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Gran’s ‘lifetime of memories’ thrown away by bungling contractors who thought she was dead | UK | News


A 97-year-old grandmother had her belongings thrown away while she was in care after contractors mistakenly believed she had passed away.

Mabel Ogle’s possessions were mostly dumped at a landfill by contractors who were supposed to remove damaged furniture from her house, which had flooded during her stay in a care home. The insurance company, Royal Sun Alliance, has since apologised and paid £2,500 in compensation for the distress caused after personal items such as her wedding and family albums were discarded.

However, her granddaughter Karen Henshaw, 51, expressed her dissatisfaction, saying: “It’s 97 years of possessions, how can you replace them? “She is a proud lady, she had many things. It’s disgusting, I don’t think it’s been dealt with properly.

“I want a proper written apology from the company that’s done this.

“There will be possessions that I hadn’t known about, there were private things like love letters. I don’t think she’s been properly compensated. They said they can’t put a value on items of sentimental significance.”

Widow Mabel, who stays at home and receives carer visits six times every day, suffered a fall in October at her Isle of Wight home, resulting in a stint of respite care for recovery.

Yet while she was away, a toilet cistern flood at her property resulted in significant damage amounting to thousands of pounds within her two-bedroomed bungalow. 

Karen from Oldham, Greater Manchester, expressed disgust at learning her grandmother’s belongings had been disposed of.

The insurance firm engaged a local property management enterprise to evaluate the wreckage. Initial plans suggested salvageable furniture would be transferred to the lounge for preservation, while the rear bedroom would house the discard pile.

Contrarily, when the man-with-a-van team arrived, they cleared both rooms indiscriminately.

Working as a bank clerk, Karen lamented: “She’s lost jewellery, war medals, christening gowns, just a lifetime of memories. The carer went round because a neighbour had seen the vans pull up at the house.

“Me and Neil had to go down and we spoke to the guy and he said ‘I’m sorry, there’s been a miscommunication’. They said they’d been told she’s passed away. Me and Neil had to go down and we spoke to the guy and he said ‘I’m sorry, there’s been a miscommunication’.”

“They said they’d been told she’s passed away. Since that meeting I have never had a formal apology from Derek Challis property services, no letter, nothing and they are the ones that made the tragic error.

“We have only had an email admitting liability. I believe the compensation is too low. RSA have paid out for the water damage and most of the contents but not for their negligence.”

Mabel has since returned to her house in Freshwater, where she has lived for the last 40 years, but Karen has not told her what has happened. She added: “I haven’t had the heart to tell her what’s happened. She’s 97 and she can barely see, she’s bed-ridden. But she knows something is wrong because she’s in the living room, she has no furniture anywhere else.”

A spokesman for insurance firm Royal Sun Alliance said: “We are sincerely sorry for the upset caused to Mrs Ogle and her granddaughter Mrs Henshaw when some of Mrs Ogle’s belongings were incorrectly disposed of during the handling of the water damage to her home.”

“Following a thorough review of this incident we previously offered our apologies for the mistakes that were made and while it is impossible to place a value on some of the more sentimental items that were lost we have paid compensation to reflect the undoubted distress that these mistakes caused.”

“Mrs Henshaw subsequently referred the case to the Financial Ombudsman Service as she was unhappy with the level of compensation and it has concluded that our handling of the complaint and compensation payment was reasonable.”

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