A GLASGOW family was left distraught after the body of their father was taken by the wrong funeral directors and nearly cremated by another family.

An investigation is underway and both Glasgow’s health board and Co-Op Funeralcare have apologised following the distressing incident.

William Paterson, who died at the age of 56, was sealed and prepared for cremation before the family's own undertaker intervened.

After passing away on November 20 this year, Mr Paterson was due to be picked up from the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for burial by David Robb Funeral Directors.

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However, when Mr Robb arrived he found that Mr Paterson's body had already been taken away by Co-op Funeralcare.

Mr Robb said: "When I arrived and gave his address as Govan Road the date of death it didn't match anyone, but there was another William Paterson there.

"The worker then checked their system and found that the William Paterson that I was looking for had already been uplifted by Glasgow Co-op."

Mr Paterson had recently died of pneumonia, a complication of lung cancer and a stroke he suffered.

For Mr Robb, it was then a race against time to try to find the correct body and return him to the family for the funeral that they wanted.

He added: "When I arrived at the Co-op I saw that there was a William Paterson in a coffin, sealed and ready to go for cremation.

"At this point he would have had to be checked by at least two staff.

"As soon as I opened the casket I knew it was him, he is the double of his son.

"If I had decided to take that weekend off there is an extremely high chance that it would have been too late."

While all of this was going on the funeral director chose not to inform the family, instead letting them deal with the grieving process while he sorted the mess that almost saw two men at the wrong funerals.

His daughter Claire, who says the family were already struggling with the loss of a parent, was called in to Mr Robb's office on the Tuesday in the run up to the funeral.

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It was there that she discovered the horror that her father's body had been through.

She said: "When David first told us my heart was in my mouth.

"I just broke down and I feared it was too late.

"We just kept asking, 'How could anyone have let this happen?'

"Thank God for David, he really went above and beyond."

The funeral director though maintained that he was just doing his job.

Mr Robb said: "I was only doing my job, by hook or by crook."

Internal investigations have since taken place within the hospital and Co-op Funeralcare, the latter of whom are being probed by the National Association of Funeral Directors.

While the family have welcomed this, they say that this is slowing the grieving process.

Mr Paterson's daughter said: "It is hard enough to lose your father but it feels like we are unable to move on at the moment.

"We are all trying to get over it but there is just always this reminder of what has happened and it is terrible."

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Co-op have since apologised for the incident.

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A spokewoman for NHSGGC said: "It was a genuine error and we would like to apologise for any distress caused.

"Our normal robust process for transferring deceased patients to an undertaker failed on this occasion."

As well as sending a representative to Mr Paterson's funeral, Co-op have also organised to meet with the family in the New Year.

A spokesperson for Co-op said: "On collection of Mr Paterson we unfortunately were not made aware that there were two individuals at the hospital with the same name, however, after a full investigation we accept that an error was made on our behalf and we can only apologise to the Paterson family for this."