Express & Star

Retired paramedic's send-off will happen after fundraiser replaces money lost in funeral plan collapse

The funeral of a much-loved paramedic and 'pillar of the community' will go ahead next weekend, but it will be an occasion that might never have happened.

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Rachael Lee is thankful for help she received from JustGiving donations and Jennifer Ashe & Son Funeral Directors

Rachael Lee was left with finding the £3,000 needed to fund a fitting send-off for her father Bob Lee after the collapse of the firm he had invested his funeral plan in.

Mr Lee was found dead at his home in Brownhills on December 4 and Rachael – an only child – was tasked with raising the money that had been lost through the Safe Hands scheme, which has left thousands of people nationwide without their funeral plans. Mr Lee served Staffordshire Ambulance in a number of roles, including paramedic, for 40 years and was also a parish councillor, a community campaigner, and a devoted member of his local church. He was considered by many as a 'pillar of the community,' Rachael said.

Bob Lee, a much respected former Staffordshire Ambulance employee of 40 years who died before Christmas. His daughter Rachael has had to raise money for a fitting send off from a campaign after his Safer Hands funeral insurance policy was lost

Former colleagues, friends, councillors and many other people who knew him are expected to turn out next Saturday at Calvary Pentecostal Church, where he and Carol, his devoted wife of nearly 50 years worshipped.

A JustGiving campaign has now reached £3,285 and will pay for the funeral, which will see an old style ambulance present along with musical tributes.

But Carol, who went into a care home a year ago and suffers with alzheimers won't be present and the Safe Hands scheme was also meant to be covering the cost of her mother's funeral.

The Safe Hands Plans case is the subject of a criminal investigation into suspected fraud and Rachael said the latest she has been told is that investors are likely to get nine to 15 per-cent of the money back that they put in.

She said: "I am really truly grateful to everyone who has supported the JustGiving campaign, those who started it and the staff at Jennifer Ashe & Son Funeral Directors who are covering part of the costs.

"It will be a truly fitting occasion for dad, who knew so many people whether professionally through the church, the parish council or just as a neighbour – he went out of his way to help people as much as he could every day and I wanted to do the same for him.

"The last couple of months have been tough and I am upset that mum won't be able to attend as they were devoted to each other but I think it is for the best.

"Again I thank everyone who has made the funeral possible, this should not have come about and I just hope eventually their is a satisfactory outcome for everyone who invested in the scheme."

The funeral will take place on Saturday at 10am at Calvary Pentecostal Church, Brickiln Way, Brownhills with a cremation at Fradley Cemetery and reception at Brownhills Community Association, Pelsall Road. Well wishers and those who knew Mr Lee are welcome to attend.