Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Obese 40-stone Somerset man 'too heavy to cremate'

Michael Pearce
Mr Pearce's family was told they should consider a burial instead

The relatives of a 40-stone (254kg) man from Somerset say they were told his body was too heavy for cremation.

Former Royal Mail worker Michael Pearce, 61, from Peasesdown St John, died last month from a heart attack.

His cremation at Bath's Haycombe Cemetery was nearly called off because staff said Mr Pearce's body was too heavy for their normal trolley.

But The Co-operative Funeralcare managed to find a sturdier trolley which was used instead.

Mr Pearce's son Ed, 35, said the manager at the council-run cemetery had told him the only option would be a burial.

Getting heavier

"That wasn't what my father wanted. I didn't think I was getting anywhere with the crematorium - they put it down to him being too big and too heavy.

"They were using the excuse that the trolley wasn't suitable for my father and it just seemed to be this trolley that was holding us up.

Mr Pearce's family believe the funeral industry needs to take account of a population that is getting heavier.

They enlisted the support of his MP, Dan Norris, who took the matter up with The Co-operative Funeralcare.

The Wansdyke Labour MP said: "What they did was purchase a trolley which can cope with the weight and they've made that available to its other offices around the country.

'Took every step'

"They've gone the extra mile to make Mr Pearce's situation is not repeated anywhere else.

"The last thing you want when you've had a loss is uncertainty," Mr Norris added.

A Co-operative Funeralcare spokesman said the service would always do its best to make sure family wishes were met.

"In Mr Pearce's case this meant working with the crematorium and his family.

"Time was of the essence so providing them this piece of equipment was the the right thing to do," he added.

A Bath and North East Somerset Council spokesman said it had taken every step to make sure the funeral went ahead.

"We are pleased that the funeral director managed to borrow a specially-adapted trolley and that the cremation was able to go ahead as planned."

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