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Lower Portland family reunited with urn and aunt’s ashes swept away during Hawkesbury floods

Apr 30, 2023

A family has been reunited with the ashes of their beloved aunt – thanks to the quick-thinking actions of a police officer more than 30km away – following the Hawkesbury’s devastating floods.

Sgt Ben Garrod returns the urn carrying Mollie Grinsted’s ashes to her nephew Peter…


On Friday November 4 last year, Ku-Ring-Gai Police Area Command’s Sergeant Ben Garrod was patrolling near Brooklyn Boat Ramp, when he was approached by a local business owner about an urn next to a skip bin nearby.


Noticing the urn bore the words ‘Mollie ‘May’ Grinsted’, Sergeant Garrod began inquiries with funeral homes in a bid to reunite Mollie’s ashes with her family.


He discovered Mollie ‘May’ Grinsted had passed away in 2007 at the impressive age of 101, and that her next of kin, nephew Peter Hart, had taken care of her ashes at the place she loved the most – his idyllic property by the Hawkesbury River in Lower Portland.


Peter had made sure his aunt’s ashes were well cared for – keeping them on the bookshelf in the bedroom where she had spent her final years.


But that changed when widespread flooding swept through our region last year. Peter’s entire house went underwater, and many of his personal items, including Mollie’s ashes, were washed away.


“Mollie never wanted to leave here, she loved it here and now she has come back home.”


Sergeant Garrod called Peter to tell him the good news that he was returning Mollie to her home.


“He couldn’t believe it. He thought Mollie’s ashes had been lost in the floods,” Sergeant Garrod said.


“When I came to his home in Lower Portland to return her urn, he showed me all the damage to his property from the floods and he showed me Mollie’s old bedroom. Being able to return her ashes to her family is such a special and rewarding feeling.”


Being reunited with his aunt’s ashes brought tears to Peter Hart’s eyes.


“Mollie never wanted to leave here, she loved it here and now she has come back home,” Peter said.


“I’ll never forget this. I am so grateful to Sergeant Garrod for going above and beyond to bring Mollie home.”

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