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Blunder meant more than 40 bereaved Norfolk families were asked to enrol dead children for school

PUBLISHED: 16:53 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:21 02 October 2019

Lizzy Jones with her son Kai. Pic: Lizzy Jones.

Lizzy Jones with her son Kai. Pic: Lizzy Jones.

Lzzy Jones

The full extent of a blunder which saw bereaved parents asked to register children who had died for school has been revealed - with more than 40 grieving families affected.

Baby James Thorndyke and his mother Susie Ash. James died just before his first birthday of a rare genetic condiditon - severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Photo: SubmittedBaby James Thorndyke and his mother Susie Ash. James died just before his first birthday of a rare genetic condiditon - severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Photo: Submitted

Norfolk County Council confirmed the figure as its internal investigation of what went wrong continues - and the authority writes to heartbroken parents to say sorry.

This newspaper has previously reported how five mothers were sent letters by the council's school admissions team, asking them to enrol children, who had died years before, for school in September 2020.

The council has confirmed they were among 41 grieving families in Norfolk who were sent letters.

The letters related to 42 children who had died.

The letter which was sent by Norfolk County Council's admissions manager to Lizzy Jones. Pic: Lizzy Jones.The letter which was sent by Norfolk County Council's admissions manager to Lizzy Jones. Pic: Lizzy Jones.

Two of those children were from the same family.

Parents who got the letters had spoken of their heartache at being reminded of a key milestone they will never see.

Lizzy Jones, 28, from Rockland St Mary, whose son Kai died in April 2016, said, when she got the letter: "It was awful. I just fell down and couldn't stop crying."

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Susie Thorndyke, of Forncett St Mary, near Diss, whose son James died from Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) just before his first birthday, said: "Just reading it felt like someone was twisting the knife into an already broken heart."

County Hall had already apologised for what the authority described as an "admin error".

The council's leader Andrew Proctor and Sara Tough, director of children's services, are now writing to the 41 families who have been affected by the blunder to apologise.

An internal audit to establish what went wrong has started.

Mr Proctor said: "We are truly sorry for the pain and distress caused to the families who were mistakenly sent a schools admissions letter about their child who had sadly passed away."

Norman Lamb, North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP, said it was crucial that the council established what went wrong with their systems.

He said: "Obviously, my heart goes out to these families.

"It's unimaginable how traumatic it must be to be confronted by such a letter amidst their own personal tragedy."

It is similar to a blunder which happened in Manchester last year, where almost 100 letters were sent to bereaved parents.

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