herald

Thursday 22 August 2019

Aer Lingus passenger gets 'lost' ashes back

Bob Gilmour and his family hoped to bring his parents’ ashes back to their respective home countries to be scattered
Bob Gilmour and his family hoped to bring his parents’ ashes back to their respective home countries to be scattered

A man who travelled from Australia to Ireland to scatter his parents' ashes has been reunited with the remains after Aer Lingus briefly lost them

Bob Gilmour (63) emigrated with his parents from Ballymena, Co Antrim to Australia in 1967 when he was 11.

His father, Sam Gilmour, met his English wife, Marjorie, during World War Two.

Mr Gilmour travelled from Australia to Europe with his family after his daughter was invited to train with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Milan.

He decided to extend the trip and bring the ashes to respect his parents' wishes.

"We thought since she's been invited to do that and I had my mum and my dad's ashes sitting in boxes on the mantelpiece, this is the opportunity," he said.

"All four of us will go and we will take Mum and Dad home, easy peasy."

With the help of relatives, Mr Gilmour organised two ceremonies - one in Ballymena and one in Birmingham - to lay his parents to rest this week.

The family were due to spend five days in Ireland before flying to England for his mother's ceremony.

However, when they arrived in Dublin from Milan on Saturday, they found Aer Lingus had lost their luggage.

"We got here, the bags didn't, and since then it's been just a nightmare," Mr Gilmour told the Herald.

"We spoke to Aer Lingus staff at the airport and filled in the paperwork, and since then we've had nothing and nobody to deal with, bar a website and a call centre.

"I don't want to be dismissive of anybody, but the call centre has been less than useless and the website is the same.

"My wife Kristen has spent hours on this bloody website trying to update details of the bag.

"It doesn't matter how we do it, whether we phone them or put it on the website - they get it wrong."

Ruined

Mr Gilmour said the inability to deal with customer services has ruined the limited time they have in Ireland, and they were facing two ashes-scattering ceremonies without any ashes.

However, Aer Lingus said yesterday that the missing bags had turned up in Milan Airport and were due to arrive in Dublin last night, after which they would be "immediately transported to the family".

Mr Gilmour's parents had expressed a wish to be cremated and have their remains returned to their home places, as they had "never quite adapted" to their new Australian home.

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