A 97-year-old grandmother’s possessions were thrown away while in she was in respite care – after contractors were wrongly told she was dead.

Most of Mabel Ogle’s belongings were sent to landfill by contractors who were sent to remove damaged furniture after her house flooded during her stay at a care home.

The Oldham Times:

Insurers Royal Sun Alliance apologised and paid her £2,500 compensation for the distress caused after sentimental items such as wedding photos and family albums were tossed away.

But granddaughter Karen Henshaw, 51, from Oldham, said: “It’s 97 years of possessions, how can you replace them?

“She is a proud lady, she had many things. It’s disgusting, I don’t think it’s been dealt with properly. I want a proper written apology from the company that’s done this.

The Oldham Times:

"There will be possessions that I hadn't known about, there were private things like love letters.

"I don’t think she’s been properly compensated. They said they can’t put a value on items of sentimental significance."

Widower Mabel, who lives at home and has carer visits six times a day, suffered a fall at her home in the Isle of Wight in October and was taken into respite care to recover.

The Oldham Times:

While she was there, her toilet cistern flooded, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage at her two-bedroom bungalow.

But Karen was shocked to be told all her grandmother’s belongings had been thrown away.

The insurance company used a local property management company to assess the damage.

They planned to keep any salvageable furniture in the living room for storage and removed everything that had to be disposed of into the rear bedroom of the house.

The Oldham Times:

But the man and van team they hired to dispose of the damaged items cleared everything in the lounge and rear bedroom.

Karen, a bank clerk, said: “She’s lost jewellery, war medals, christening gowns, just a lifetime of memories.

“The carer went round because a neighbour had seen the vans pull up at the house.

The Oldham Times:

“Me and Neil had to go down and we spoke to the guy and he said ‘I’m sorry, there’s been a miscommunication’. They said they’d been told she’s passed away.

"Since that meeting I have never had a formal apology from Derek Challis property services, no letter, nothing and they are the ones that made the tragic error.

The Oldham Times:

"We have only had an email admitting liability. I believe the compensation is too low.

"RSA have paid out for the water damage and most of the contents but not for their negligence."

Mabel has since returned to her house in Freshwater, where she has lived for the last 40 years, but Karen has not told her what has happened.

She added: “I haven’t had the heart to tell her what’s happened. She’s 97 and she can barely see, she’s bedridden.

“But she knows something is wrong because she’s in the living room, she has no furniture anywhere else.”

The Oldham Times:

A spokesman for insurance company Royal Sun Alliance said: “We are sincerely sorry for the upset caused to Mrs Ogle and her granddaughter Mrs Henshaw when some of Mrs Ogle's belongings were incorrectly disposed of during the handling of the water damage to her home.

“Following a thorough review of this incident we previously offered our apologies for the mistakes that were made and while it is impossible to place a value on some of the more sentimental items that were lost we have paid compensation to reflect the undoubted distress that these mistakes caused.

“Mrs Henshaw subsequently referred the case to the Financial Ombudsman Service as she was unhappy with the level of compensation and it has concluded that our handling of the complaint and compensation payment was reasonable.”