A digger had to be used to prise open chapel’s doors at one South Yorkshire funeral when mourners got locked out because an employee failed to show with the keys.
About 70 mourners gathered at Mexborough Cemetery in Doncaster for the funeral of 92-year-old Royal Navy veteran Douglas Barratt on Wednesday, but were locked out for 40 minutes.
The digger, used by grave diggers, then forced open the doors of the chapel.
A Doncaster Council spokesman said they were ‘very sorry’ for what happened.
Mr Barratt’s family told BBC Radio Sheffield he died on 15 December, with members of the British Legion coming from ‘all over’ to attend his service but were left stood in the rain and “chilled to the bone”.
Arrangements had been made for someone to come an hour before the funeral to open the building and put the heating on, but no-one arrived.
Mr Barratt’s son in law said the door was ‘pushed and shoved’ by several people but it wouldn’t open.
Stuart Venables, from Mexborough, told BBC Radio Sheffield: “Eventually the decision was made to bring in a small JCB which was used for digging the grave to try and ease the door open.
“It didn’t take long, just one push and the doors opened. A rousing cheer went up and we took Doug into the chapel.”
Mr Venables said attendees thought it was ‘very disrespectful’, but added they also thought it would be a ‘funeral to be remembered for years’.
Dave Wilkinson, from the council, said: “We are very sorry for what has happened and will be making contact with the family to apologise in person.
“We are looking into this and will be learning lessons so this does not happen again.”
Mr Venables added: “If Doug had been stood outside, he would have been splitting his sides with laughter.”