A grieving family have been left ‘sickened’ by the suspected theft of mourners’ donations after a heroic relative’s funeral.
Maurice ‘Dick’ Bentley, of Quarrington, served as a Warrant Officer in the RAF for 41 years working as a bomb disposal expert and armourer, recently dying aged 80.
But charitable donations by grieving friends and relatives after his funeral have gone missing.
Daughter Fiona Hoddy, who also lives locally, described how she felt ‘sick’ at the discovery. She said: “He put his life on the line so many times for people to keep them safe.
“You couldn’t meet a nicer person and we had over 300 condolence messages from people saying what a good person he was, some even still calling him ‘Sir’ and so we wanted to raise some money for Alzheimer’s Research as that is what killed him. But now it has turned into a nightmare and I feel gutted.”
The family had opted to ask for donations to the charity instead of flowers following the funeral last Tuesday at Lincoln Crematorium. The charity had provided collection boxes and envelopes for the contributions, even providing the facility to claim Gift Aid, said Mrs Hoddy.
Family and friends went back to a hotel for the wake and later back to Mrs Hoddy’s house where one of the family realised the boxes had been emptied and virtually all of the money was gone.
Mrs Hoddy said: “People had been stuffing notes into the boxes which had been stood on a table in the corner at the reception room in the hotel. Everything was brought back to my house and set up on the sideboard with Dad’s photos and medals.”
On opening them up to count the money later, to their horror all they found in the boxes were a few coins adding up to £3.
Mrs Hoddy checked around to make sure no one had moved it for safe keeping but no one had. She said she could not believe any of the mourners had taken the cash.
On checking with the hotel she discovered the spot where the boxes had stood was in a blind spot of the CCTV and with so many people handling them during the day there is no chance of getting fingerprints meaning the family, after taking advice, hold little hope of tracing the money.
They have therefore not reported the incident to police.
She said: “We have no idea at what point someone could have taken the money as a stranger could have just walked in when we weren’t looking and taken the notes. I am absolutely gutted. I’ve not told my mother, Patricia, yet, the poor woman.”
Mrs Hoddy’s parents had moved to live close to her a couple of years ago.
Fiona said when she told her daughter Jessica she was ‘incensed’ and set up an online appeal page. Donations can also be made via Colin Ward Funeral Services,in Sleaford.
With many members of the family having served in the armed forces, Mr Bentley was given a fitting send-off with standard bearer and the Last Post played at his funeral.
“To have this happen afterwards was absolutely destroying,” said Fiona.