DOZENS of grieving parents suffered further heartache after a local council mistakenly asked them to register places for their dead child, it emerged yesterday.
The letters were among thousands sent out in Norfolk last week to parents of children aged three who are due to start school next September.
Norfolk County Council has blamed an “admin error” for the blunder and has promised an investigation to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Many parents were left in tears when they opened the letters which arrived at their homes last Friday.
Susie Thorndyke, of Forncett St Mary, near Diss, whose son James died just before his first birthday, said: “As soon as I saw the letter address to the parent or carer of James, I knew something was wrong.
“Just reading it felt like someone was twisting the knife into an already broken heart.
“I went to that council to register James’s death and yet they make a mistake like this?
“The milestones are just so hard. I know he’s never going to start school and for them to send letters like this is just not acceptable.”
DOZENS OF FAMILIES
It was initially thought that the letters had gone to around five families who had lost children – most of them premature babies.
But the council has now admitted that 42 letters were sent out to 41 bereaved families – including one who had tragically lost two children.
Council leader Andrew Proctor and Sara Tough, director of children’s services, are now writing to the families to apologise.
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.
“At the moment, our priority is contacting the families concerned so we can apologise to them directly.
“In terms of what happened, as soon as we found out the letters had been sent we launched an investigation through our internal audit department to ensure that such a mistake does not happen again.
“This should never have happened in the first place and we offer our most sincere apologies to all the families involved.”
Seeing the letter made me remember I’m not with my child
Hollie Nightingale of Stalham, Norfolk, whose premature daughter Alissia lived for just 20 minutes, said she was shocked to receive the letter.
It was addressed to “the parent or guardian of Alissia Chaplin”.
Ms Nightingale, who has battled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, initially assumed it was a typing error and was about her oldest daughter Anastasia before she realised it was about her dead baby.
She said: “Seeing the letter made me remember I’m not with my child.
“I’ll never have those birthdays, Christmases, or get that first day at school like I did with my other kids.
“All I could think was why would they want to remind me of all that?”
Another mum said: “It was awful. I just fell down and couldn’t stop crying.”
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It echoes a similar blunder by Manchester City Council last year.
The authority apologised after 95 school admissions letters were reportedly sent to grieving families.
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