Couple suffer baby ashes heartache after tragic death

Kat Hancocks with her memory box of her son Gabriel
Kat Hancocks with her memory box of her son Gabriel

A GRIEVING Hucknall couple have been hit by the latest in a series of heartaches — a refusal to allow them to lay their dead baby’s ashes to rest at a picturesque church.

Kat and Ben Hancocks’ world was turned upside down when they discovered, at the 20th week of their pregnancy, that their son had died.

Last month, Kat (31) had to go to Nottingham City Hospital to give birth to the baby — a date that tragically coincided with the sixth birthday of her daughter, Millie.

The couple named their son Gabriel and had a poignant naming and blessing service conducted by the hospital chaplain.

Gabriel was cremated and later Kat and Ben decided they would like his ashes to be placed at St James’s Church in Papplewick as it is a spot where they regularly walk.

They also find it “peaceful and comforting”.

But they have been blocked from fulfilling their wishes because of church regulations that prevent anyone from outside the parish being buried in the churchyard due to restrictions on space.

Kat, of Oak Grove, told the Dispatch: “I was shocked and disgusted to be told there was no way Gabriel could be put to rest there. We are only talking about a teaspoon of ashes.

“I can’t help but wonder whether God agrees with this postcode lottery.”

Kat, who is a police community support officer (PCSO), and landscape gardener Ben (33), got married last October. Gabriel was the second baby they had lost during pregnancy in less than a year.

They are waiting for the results of a post-mortem on Gabriel and a series of tests.

Kat, who also has another child, Kian (11), said: “When Gabriel was born he was perfect. We got to hold him and he had a big wide thumb, just like his dad.

“We have always loved walking and regularly visit St James’s Church. Ben used to live nearby and played in neighbouring woodland as a child.

“Yes there are rules in life, but if this would have given us comfort at this time when we are grieving for our little boy, who was so wanted and loved, would anyone who lives in Papplewick really have minded?”

The Hancocks have a large memory box with items such as a hospital blanket in which Gabriel was wrapped. He weighed just 100 grammes.

They have now decided to keep his ashes at home so he can “remain part of the family”.

They say they can no longer visit St James’s because they are so upset.

Canon Keith Turner, the rector of St James’s and nearby St Michael’s in Linby, explained to the Dispatch: “It is hard. All deaths are hard and this one is obviously a very difficult one.

“I’m really sorry and we would love to help them. But because space is so limited we have to be strict.”

He continued: “The regulation is that you have to live in the parish or be on the electoral role. I have had many requests and I’ve had to say no. We cannot set a precedent.”

He added that there are churches in Hucknall, within the Hancocks’ parish, where Gabriel’s ashes could be laid to rest. But Kat says none of these would bring comfort.