The discovery of a jar on a beach on Western Australia containing ashes of a former Auchmithie man, who died more than seven years ago, sparked a weekend of mystery.
News of the find was first posted on the Mandurah Mail’s website, prompting sleuths on both sides of the world to try to track down his family, wondering how the ashes came to be so far from home.
Katie Robinson, 49, came across the glass jar containing the ashes of Royal Navy chief petty officer Ken Padgett on Thursday. He died on August 17, 2010 at the age of 78.
She was walking her dog along Seascapes Beach when she made the discovery.
The ashes were sealed with silicon in a medical test container attached to the bottom of a glass jar.
There was a solar light and a note describing its contents.
It read: “Remains of chief petty officer Ken Padgett, Royal Navy. Lived in Auchmithie, Scotland”.
The note included birth and death details of the petty officer and the request, if found, that the jar be returned to the ocean.
Ms Robinson said she was going to follow the letter’s instructions and throw the jar back into the Indian Ocean when the tides were right.
She said: “I scattered my sister’s ashes at this beach because it was one of her favourite spots..
“I’m disappointed I didn’t come up with this idea for some of her remains.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea for someone who likes the water – and being in the navy all his life obviously he did. It’s a great way to honour someone’s memory.
“I found the jar about 200 metres up the beach from where I placed my sister and it was below the cliff my sister loved to sit at with her little dog, and look out over the water.”
The story was picked up by Jane Robinson, a member of the voluntary staff at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, who set about trying to track down Mr Padgett’s family.
Jane said: “This kind of tracing is something I do on a regular basis.
“I have spent the last four years tracing the families of soldiers who embroidered the cathedral’s First World War Altar Frontal, roughly 145 in total, half of whom were in Commonwealth countries.”
Mr Padgett and his late wife, Christine, had five of a family – Sean, Morag, Fiona, Mhairi and Calum – and Jane made contact with some of the family by Facebook.
On Saturday Ken’s daughter Mhairi Kimmet, who now lives in Kirriemuir, was able to explain how her father’s ashes turned up half way round the world.
She said: “Most of his ashes were scattered near Cherry Island, off Loch Ness, on April 3, 2011.
“I scattered the ashes with my brother and sister, Morag and Calum, near the place our mum and dad went courting. We must have sent some of the ashes to our brother, Sean, who lives in Australia.
“He had hung on to them but decided it was time to let dad go and put them out to sea at Mandurah, 80 km from where he stays. He expected it to head to Asia but obviously it came back in with the tide.
“Dad had travelled the world with the Navy, he had always wanted to be buried at sea.
“It is a wee bit sad they have come back in again. Sadly, not much of a story but my dad would have been pleased as punch and had a laugh.
“The lady messaged my brother Calum on FB and he is passing details to Sean so he can send dad off on his adventures again.”