A devastated mum has finally received her son’s ashes more than a year since he mysteriously died on a holiday island.
James Todd went missing in Gran Canaria in July last year just days after enrolling at a university there.
The 46-year-old’s body was found in Guiniguada Ravine, a popular hiking spot.
His mum Chris Keen has been fighting to bring her son back ever since and despite facing numerous challenges and months of unanswered questions, has now been allowed to bring him home where she can scatter his ashes.
Mrs Keen said: “He had enrolled at university and went missing on July 27. By the 29th he was dead. We suspect it was on the 28th.
“Around a month later his remains were found at the bottom of a ravine, but it was only in November that we were told. We were advised not to go to his cremation in July this year, we were told it would be too traumatic.”
Chris and her husband Derek, 74, who live in Standish Lower Ground, waited a year for confirmation from police, who identified James officially through DNA given by his grieving mum and DNA from a razor found in his possessions. The coroner ruled the bodyguard’s death as a “traumatic accident”.
Earlier this month , the pair flew out to the island to collect James’s belongings, which filled five suitcases.
James, affectionately known as “Todd” was eventually cremated on July 28 this year, a date his parents believe to be exactly a year after his death.
Amid James’s possessions, Chris and Derek found a “beautiful bike”, which they decided to gift to the funeral director’s wife.
“They have called it Todd, after James,” said Chris.
The devastated couple contacted, TUI (formerly Thomson) travel agents on Market Street to arrange flights and accommodation to bring James home from where his ashes were kept at “Memora” funeral services in Gran Canaria.
Chris has praised the company for the way that they treated the family with “so much respect”.
Chris and Derek were given priority by the airline company, who allowed them to bring all of James’s possessions home with no excess baggage charge.
“When we got to the airport it was chaos with the Monarch flights,” said Chris. “We got to the desk and the manager looked at me and said ‘Mrs Keen, you are my top priority’.
“The airline agreed to let us bring the ashes on the plane and they came back on Derek’s knee. I just can’t get over how remarkable they were. After a year of getting through this, it was lovely. Now he’s back we can begin to get some kind of closure.”
The family have decided to scatter Todd’s ashes on what would have been his 48th birthday on January 27, 2018 and family members will all have an input into where he is finally laid to rest.