An investigation into the shocking mix-up which saw a County Durham family visit someone else in their dad’s grave for 17 years has finally got underway.

The Bell family only discovered they had been visiting the wrong grave after the death of mum Hilda in June, whose last wishes were to be buried alongside her doting husband Thomas.

Thomas and Hilda’s relatives endured a painful six week wait to bury their mum while gravediggers dug up 11 plots at Holy Trinity Church, Wingate to find their father’s resting place.

Read more: Fears 'hundreds' more loved ones are buried in wrong place after grave blunders

Now an investigation into the shocking error has been launched by the Diocese of Durham, which looks after burials at Holy Trinity Church Wingate.

The Northern Echo: Holy Trinity Church Wingate.Holy Trinity Church Wingate. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

The Northern Echo understands representatives from the Church of England will meet with the Bell family today (November 1) as the investigation into what happened begins.

The investigation is expected to be completed within the month and a report will be published.A spokesperson for the Diocese of Durham said: “The inquiry will be led by the Archdeacon of Sunderland and we hope it will take about a month to conclude. A summary of its findings will be published in due course.

"The investigation will speak to those who can help us better understand how this situation occurred, although it is important to note that some of those involved at the time are no longer with us and have since passed away.

The Northern Echo: Gravediggers eventually found where Thomas Bell had been buried for the last 17 years.Gravediggers eventually found where Thomas Bell had been buried for the last 17 years. (Image: CHRIS BOOTH)

"The findings will help us ensure that any lessons to be learned from this distressing situation are identified and acted upon.”

Read more: EXCLUSIVE | Durham family spent 17 years visiting wrong grave due to blunder

Speaking previously about the upcoming investigation, Tom Bell told The Northern Echo: “We’ve had a letter apologising for what happened, but it shouldn’t have ever happened in the first place.

“We need answers. I really hope we get some.”

Graeme Morris MP, who led calls for an investigation and raised the case in the House of Commons last month added: “I will take a close interest in the lessons learnt review relating to Holy Trinity Church. It is only right the families affected can get answers to their questions.

The Northern Echo: Hilda was eventually buried almost two months after she sadly passed away.Hilda was eventually buried almost two months after she sadly passed away. (Image: CHRIS BOOTH)

“It is becoming clear that Holy Trinity is not an isolated incident and the rules on marking, recording, and identifying burial plots require modernisation.” 

In September Morris told fellow MPs how the Bell family endured a “heart-breaking” eight-week delay in burying Hilda as eleven graves were dug up at Holy Trinity Church, Wingate in search for their dad’s resting place.

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Morris also called for reforms are needed to improve burial records, asking Conservative MP Andrew Selous, who acts as the Second Church Estates Commissioner: “Do you agree that we need to improve burial records with digital copies, introduce a new process for marking plots after burial, and have rules about the orderly organisation of plots in churchyards?”

Mr Selous replied: “(Mr Morris) is absolutely right that record-keeping is incredibly important and the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 clearly states that records should be in fireproof places.

“His point about digital is also well made.

“The lessons learned inquiry will focus on best practice for all parishes.”

Last month The Northern Echo revealed that another seven families had endured shocking mix-ups in burying their loved ones in the North East in the last ten years as another family told how they'd been visiting the wrong grave for 43 years.

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