The money has been raised by retrieving metals from cremations. The MBC Bereavement Services Team at Vinters Park Crematorium first gain written consent from bereaved families, then following a cremation any metals from knees and hips retrieved are stored safely. They are then taken to Sheffield for separation, sorting and smelting and a high percentage of the higher-grade cobalt steel is sent to two companies that manufacture new orthopaedic implants. Any lower graded metal is traditionally recycled.
Funds raised are regularly distributed by MBC to charities. Marie Curie provides frontline nursing and hospice care, a free support line and a wealth of information and support on all aspects of dying, death and bereavement. Their current campaign, the Great Daffodil Appeal, is trying to raise awareness that every five minutes someone in the UK dies without the care and support they need.
Cllr Lottie Parfitt-Reid, Lead Member for Communities and Public Engagement at Maidstone Borough Council said:
To lose a loved one is just so sad and stressful. Marie Curie provides a service that helps so many people and supports them at what can be a very difficult time.
It is heartwarming to know that so many local charities have been helped through this scheme. It really is down to the generosity of bereaved families who make the difficult decision to consent to orthopaedic implants such as knee and hip replacement joints being removed from the ashes. We can’t thank them enough.
The scheme is run by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) and since joining MBC has donated £147,076 to bereavement related charities. The donations started out as £5,000 and have steadily grown over the past few years.
MBC joined the scheme in 2012, prior to this, implants from loved ones used to be stored at the crematorium until there was a sufficient amount and would then be buried within the Gardens of Remembrance.
As this method of disposal has become less acceptable and like many other crematoriums in the UK and the continent, any metal residue found will be recycled unless the family wish to make alternative arrangements.
The metals used for implants are special medical grade stainless steel, titanium and cobalt chrome, which are all produced from non-renewable resources. In the future, these resources will become depleted and such metals will become less available for operations. Therefore, this recycling scheme helps to protect the environment as well as saving resources and providing potential benefits for the living.