A BEREAVED Forres family who claimed that the local mortuary looked like an "old garage" has welcomed the findings of a review.
Head of the family, Frank Whyte was taken by the police to Spynie Mortuary after he died in a sailing accident at
Findhorn Bay in May, 2016. His close relatives were left extremely distressed by the state of the facility in Elgin, describing it as "unkempt" and "run down".
They also pointed out that there was no room available where they could say their goodbyes in private.
The Mortuary Review Group has now recommended that various steps are taken to improve the standards of mortuaries across Scotland.
Mr Whyte’s widow, Maryan, welcomed a Scottish Government announcement that it will accept all of its recommendations.
She said: "We started our campaign when we discovered how horrendous the experiences were for the bereaved all over Scotland who had to attend a mortuary to view their loved one.
"Our own experience left us with such feelings of disgust and desolation, gut-wrenching memories which no one should have when we come to that most final of goodbyes.
"When I went with my granddaughter Isla to the members’ debate in Holyrood we didn’t think that Parliament would have such a strong and unified reaction to work towards ensuring mortuary provision across Scotland could no longer be as it was."
She added: "While by August, 2016 Spynie Mortuary was no longer used for identifications, it was not until July 2017 that it was finally fully closed and no longer used for body storage.
"At the most recent meeting (January) of Dr Gray’s Mortuary Group, it was agreed that we would move forward with two options for improved mortuary facilities, both of them being within the hospital building.
"With the information from staff and public surveys, detailed plans and costings will be obtained.
"This is a big step forward - thanks to everybody who made it clear that an internal option was their first choice."
Among its recommendations, the Mortuary Review Group has stated that "appropriate viewing facilities and environment must be provided".
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid a personal tribute to the family and their work during First Minister’s Questions broadcast last Thursday.
Maryan added: "Our aim now is to continue campaigning in the belief that mortuaries, along with the necessary processes and procedures, should work in such a way that all those involved can be proud of the way in which we treat our deceased, our bereaved, and the professionals who are engaged at the conclusion of life."
Police Scotland, on occasions, used Spynie following unexplained or accidental deaths in the area. They ceased doing so after the outcry surrounding Mr Whyte, and now go to Dr Gray’s Hospital instead.
As well as working closely with the family, Richard Lochhead MSP also sponsored a debate at Holyrood, highlighting the Whytes’ campaign.
He paid tribute to the family’s grit and determination: "Their efforts made this a national issue and have secured significant improvements. This is an important part of Frank Whyte’s legacy."