HEARSES had to be towed and pushed to Rotherham Crematorium after the sudden snowfall brought chaos this morning.
Services went ahead thanks to public-spirited residents helping determined funeral directors up to the graveyard in Ridgeway, East Herringthorpe.
David Butterfield, managing director of Butterfields, said: “It wasn’t just our funeral directors but others too that were affected. One hearse was towed up after we’d done our service.
“A lot of thanks has to go to residents that facilitated us getting up the hill. It was amazing.
“When you see people coming out in their numbers like that, it restores your faith in human nature a little.
“A lady who had taken a bag of grit so she could get to her relative’s grave brought it down to help us instead.”
The 11am funeral went ahead at 11.30am — but it was another two hours before the staff arrived back at the offices in Swinton. Other services were cancelled.
Mr Butterfield said: “It’s a stressful time when you lose someone, full stop. But we’re also in the middle of a pandemic and then the snow has added to that.
“For the gentleman this morning, he was a taxi driver so we were going to go past his place of work, but then had to explain to the family that it wouldn’t be possible.”
He added: “We can’t say it’s unprecedented. A couple of years ago we had the beast from the east, when we managed to get up the hill, but very gingerly.
“From what I’m told, the problem this time was the rain before the snow, which meant if they gritted, it would be washed away.”
A taxi driver who paid his respects at the 11am service said: “It’s shameful that people are having to shove hearses up Ridgeway. It had to be pushed all the way from from the shops.
“I came early and was stood on the drive at the crematorium. They noticed I had snow tyres on and asked if I’d go up and down a few times to make it easier for the hearse.
“It was a but late starting, but if we hadn’t have helped on the hill, then the service wouldn’t have happened at all.
“There was a JCB from the crem, and then a red Land Rover dragged up another hearse.”
Rotherham Council has been contacted for comment.
Tom Smith, assistant director for community safety, tweeted: “Really tough conditions for gritting teams this morning.
“Rain washes grit away so we can’t grit until the snow falls. Grit then needs vehicle movements to get it working. Bear with us and show your support if you see us about and about!”
Wortley Road. Pic: Vince Watson.
Across the borough, roads were closed and traffic ground to a halt after a morning of snowfall.
Bus services were suspended and several schools were closed.
Rotherham Council advised parents and carers to consult their individual school’s websites for information and Travel South Yorkshire advised public transport users to check before travelling.
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