A Blacon grandmother has been left heartbroken after callous thieves stole her late husband’s ashes on the day she was going to scatter them.
John Ryder died of heart failure in January 2016 but it had taken until last weekend for his widow Nell, 73, to finally feel she was ready to part with him, and grant his wish of his ashes being scattered in the River Mersey.
Nell and her stepchildren and grandchildren had arranged a special day out in Liverpool on Saturday (July 15), where John was from, before finally putting him to rest in his beloved city.
But while the family was enjoying lunch at the Toby Carvery in Aigburth, a thief broke into the family’s car and took the box containing the ashes, as well as a bottle of champagne and presents for Nell’s grandchildren.
“I just couldn’t believe what I saw,” Nell told The Chronicle. “I looked at the ground and saw broken glass. I just kept saying ‘Not the ashes, not the ashes’.
“But of course they were gone, along with the champagne we’d planned to have a toast to John with, and presents I had got for the grandchildren.”
Nell, who had been married to John since 1993, feels sure the thief wouldn’t have known the box contained ashes, and thinks they possibly mistook it for a bottle of alcohol.
“I don’t believe for a moment they knew what they were taking because the box they were in looked like a bottle of Scotch. When I first saw it that’s exactly what I said. The ashes were in a lovely box with a little woodland scene on it.
“I just can’t believe the response I’ve had to this from Liverpool and the surrounding areas,” she said. “This lowlife turned our lives around on Saturday but it does my heart good to see the love and kindness we’ve been shown. I heard that one little boy told his mum he was going out to find ‘the man’s ashes’. That was just so lovely.”
Nell added: “I don’t want an angry rant with the thief - all I can hope for is that I hope they find it in themselves to just leave John somewhere we can find him safely. We need closure on this.
“Ironically as we came out of the tunnel into Liverpool on Saturday, the sun was shining and my stepdaughter said: “Don’t you just love this city?’ It was a beautiful day, we were all together, and then this happened,” said Nell.
“Even though he lived in Chester, John never stopped loving his home city, and I grew to love it too. He was such a proud Scouser.
“We are in limbo at the moment. We just want John back.”
Nell is appealing to anyone who knows anything about the ashes whereabouts to anonymously contact Chester funeral directors Stephen Johnstone & Son. They can be contacted on 01244 292835.