A good sort

A GAWLER business has played a part in reuniting an Elizabeth woman with the stolen ashes of her late husband, after they were discovered in a stream of local recycling waste last week.

Last Friday, Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA) employee Robert Smith was working in the pre-sort room of NAWMA’s Edinburgh waste processing facility when an unusual solid plastic object presented itself on the conveyor belt.

Mr Smith, known affectionately to his workmates as ‘Robbo’, took the object from the line and placed it aside, identifying it as something that could be significant to someone, before showing it to his line manager.

NAWMA administration staff then contacted Gawler’s Taylor & Forgie Funeral Directors – the business identified by name on the container – to help locate the object’s owner.

The owner was an Elizabeth woman whose home had been broken into, and the ashes taken from her during the break-in, just two weeks earlier.

The woman, who wished not to be named, was “shattered” by the loss of her husband’s cremains, and rushed to Gawler to collect them.

“When they announced that they were Taylor and Forgie, and I rang them back, because they’d left a message, I said, ‘you’re not ringing me to tell me the incredible news that you’ve found my husband’s remains’,” the woman told The Bunyip.

“This guy said, yes – I don’t know how you describe that feeling, it was just incredible.”

Taylor & Forgie replaced the container, which was damaged, before returning it to the woman.

The woman had been married to her husband for 15 years before he passed away in October, 2015 at the Gawler Health Service, and said she was still grappling to come to terms with his death, even today – which made the loss of his ashes even more devastating.

“He didn’t even want a funeral, he just wanted his remains scattered – and he strictly listed exactly where, in terms of location,” the woman said.

“Part of my terrible feeling was that I hadn’t yet done what he’d asked me to do, because I hadn’t, at that point, been able to bring myself to do it.”

The woman hoped Mr Smith, and everyone else involved, understood what their actions meant to her, as it enabled her to scatter the ashes, as per her husband’s wishes.

Mr Smith said his role in the story was just a “total fluke”, as he was simply doing his job, but felt great that he could help.

“That means everything to me – I’m just so happy that it found a happy home, basically,” he said.

“Then, hearing about what happened to the lady, I couldn’t believe what happened to her. “It was probably one of the most amazing things that’s happened to me and that I’ve been a part of.”


Matteo Gagliardi joined The Bunyip in August 2016 with almost two years experience in regional print media, having previously worked at a community newspaper in Swan Hill, Victoria. Covering politics, local government and crime, Matteo likes to sink his teeth into hard-hitting issues, but also enjoys spending time getting to know the Gawler community. Matteo also has a passion for science, agriculture and the environment, and has previously worked as a media officer at the Australian Science Media Centre.

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