Aer Lingus apologises after losing ashes of former Co Antrim couple

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Aer Lingus has apologised after losing the ashes of a former Co Antrim Couple.

The ashes of Samuel Gilmour, who was originally from Ballymena and his English wife, Marjorie from Birmingham were lost in transit when they son Bob took them on a flight from Italy to Ireland this week.

Tasmania-based Bob was due to scatter his parents’ ashes during separate ceremonies in Northern Ireland and England this week.

The Gilmour family flew to Dublin with Aer Lingus on Saturday but their bags, containing the ashes, did not arrive, the BBC reported.

Aer Lingus said on Tuesday night that the bags have now been found in Milan.

However the three day hunt for the ashes left the family facing the possibility of attending funeral services without the ashes.

The couple had requested that their ashes be scattered in their respective birthplaces.

They met in England during World War Two when they were both serving with the RAF.

They married and settled down in County Antrim, before emigrating to Australia in 1967 with their two sons.

Bob, who spent the first 11 years of his life in NI, booked his father’s memorial ceremony in Ballymena on Wednesday.

A cousin still living in the County Antrim town commissioned a plaque for the event, engraved with the words: “Samuel Gilmour, a Ballymena boy come home at last.”

A ceremony to commemorate his mother is due to take place in England on Friday.

Speaking to the Irish Times earlier on Tuesday, Bob Gilmour said: “So I now have a funeral service to go to in Ulster tomorrow and a funeral service to go to in Birmingham on Friday, but we have no bodies.”

Initially, two of the four missing bags were located and returned to the family, but they did not include the bag with the ashes.

Mr Gilmour said the airline’s response was “less than useless”.

In a statement on Tuesday night, an Aer Lingus spokeswoman said the missing baggage had been found in Milan Malpensa Airport.

“Regrettably, it was not loaded onto the Aer Lingus flight by the baggage handlers at Malpensa Airport,” they said.

“The baggage will now arrive overnight into Dublin Airport where it will be immediately transported to the family. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.”