Search is on to find relatives of nurse whose ashes were found in casket in Northampton

Roger Ibbeson and his colleague Kerry Holland (Pictures: Magnus News Agency)
Roger Ibbeson and his colleague Kerry Holland (Pictures: Magnus News Agency)

A worldwide search is underway to find relatives of a former nurse whose ashes were saved from being dumped in a Northampton skip.

A small, foot-long casket containing the ashes of Lester Leroy Gibbons was discovered by warehouse manager Roger Ibbeson, who works for storage company Wardle and Keach, while he was clearing an old auction room site

The casket

The casket

Roger, 63, said he was in the middle of throwing rubbish from the area into a skip when he noticed one box was unusually heavy.

“I picked up the box with Lester’s ashes in and I thought that’s heavy, so I opened it up and there was this little casket," said Roger.

“I thought I can’t throw that in the skip, that’s somebody in there bless them. I took it into our main office and Kerry suggested we put something on Lostbox about four weeks ago.

“We hoped we could find who he belongs to, you can’t throw somebody’s ashes away can you? It’s not right.”

After notifying his workmates, Roger's colleague Kerry Holland posted the find of Lester on the lost and found service Lostbox.

The post has since been shared more than nine thousand times reaching almost a million people, but the hunt for relatives continues.

Volunteers have so far discovered Lester worked as a mental health nurse in Lewisham, London, and that he originally came from the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean.

His death certificate has also revealed Lester went by another surname Jackman, as well as Gibbons.

The small wooden casket is embossed with a brass-style plaque that reads ‘Lester Leroy Gibbons, Died 18th April 1991, Aged 52 Years'.

Roger said: “On the cardboard box we found the casket in it said there was a certificate enclosed, but there was no paperwork in there.

“And in the casket itself there is no paperwork and just a white polythene bag with the poor bloke’s ashes in. So we sealed the casket up again.

“It’s possible Lester has been sitting in a box since any time after he was cremated, so more than 20 years really. It would be nice just to put him to rest.”

Dawn Cochrane, from, said: “People have been fascinated and also saddened that nobody has claimed Lester, and that he ended up in storage.

“We have had an amazing response from the Lostbox community. The strangest part is we haven’t had anyone that remembers him yet, but we’re hopeful we can finally find him peace soon.”

BBC Broadcast engineer Mike Barry has been volunteering his time to research Lester’s life after seeing the post on Lostbox.

Mike said his search had so far confirmed that Lester had been cremated in Lewisham in 1991.

He said: “We did find some names of potential relatives from the records of the cremation but we haven’t been able to trace anyone so far who have said they know Lester.

“We also now know from the death certificate that Lester was born in Trinidad, now Trinidad and Tobago, on January 7, 1939.

“From the certificate we know that Lester had an alias of Jackman and that he worked as a mental health nurse."

Mike said if no one could be found then eventually the plan would be to perhaps start a crowd-funding site to pay for Lester to receive a proper burial.