A grieving mother was left devastated when a teddy bear gifted to her in memory of her baby son who died was left by a postman to burn in a chiminea.
Shaunnah Manners was not at her Dewsbury home when her special parcel was delivered and, instead of leaving it with a neighbour, the postie left a card directing the mortified mother to the wood-burning fire.
Although the chiminea was no longer ablaze when the bear was dumped inside, it was still hot enough from the night before to burn through the box and singe the paws off the soft toy.
Miss Manners, 22, said: “The postman usually comes between 11am-11.30am and I got back around 12.30pm.
“When I took the bear out there were flames coming off it and who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t caught it when I did.”
Devastatingly, the toy was a ‘Bear with a Star’ and had been sent to Miss Manners by her mum as a gift for her other three children.
The bear was supposed to be given to the siblings, Harley, two, and Faith and Riley, both five, to remember their young brother, Harvey Gettings, who died soon after being born in January 2014.
Miss Manners said: “Because my other three children are so young, we have always told them that Harvey is shining in the sky like a star.
“The ‘Bear with a Star’ is holding a red star which has a code on it that you type in online. It then lets you choose and name a star which we were going to do for Harvey.
“It’s particularly important for Harley - who is Harvey’s twin - to have something to remember his brother by.
“The star that the bear holds even says, ‘I’ll shine forever’.”
Miss Manners explained that the present sparked difficult emotions for her and the circumstances in which the bear ended up made everything much worse.
She said: “I was just mortified when I saw what had happened.
“It’s a really emotional and sensitive issue for me. Harley has just started nursery and he’s moved into his big boy bed and all the time we all know that there should be two boys doing that.
“It has been quite hard and this just made it all the more difficult for me.”
Miss Manners can’t understand how the postman got it so wrong and explained that the chiminea must have still been hot when the postman moved it from the side of her house to her back garden.
She said: “I had used the chiminea the night before to burn a wooden panel I had just taken down.
“It was still smoldering and the metal would still have been hot so I can’t understand how he didn’t realise what would happen if he left the bear in there.
“At first its feet were just singed but now they’ve completely fallen off.”
Miss Manners added: “I tried to hide the bear from the other kids but they’re in to everything so they found it.
“But I haven’t told them what it was for - it would be too upsetting.”
Miss Manners revealed that the bear was the first thing her mum, who lives in Liverpool, had bought for Harvey because she has been unwell over the past couple of years.
She said: “The bear was a surprise for us all and now it’s been completely ruined.
“It is the last thing we need during such a sensitive time.”
Miss Manners’ mother immediately contacted Royal Mail to complain and the company have since offered her daughter a £100 cheque as a goodwill gesture.
Miss Manners said: “I have spoken to a Royal Mail representative and he was really apologetic.
“He brought me to tears actually when he explained that he has children and he can only imagine how I feel.
“It was really overwhelming speaking to him.”
A Royal Mail spokeswoman apologised for the damage caused to Miss Manners’ parcel.
She said: “Royal Mail would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Manners for the damage to her parcel.
“All of our postmen and women are aware that items that cannot be delivered should be left in a designated ‘safe place’ or returned to the delivery office.
“We have reminded all our staff in Dewsbury of this again.”
The spokeswoman added: “We have spoken with Ms Manners today to express our apologies and to arrange for compensation to cover the cost of replacing the item, as well as to offer her an additional payment as a gesture of goodwill.
“Every item of mail we deliver is important to us. We will be investigating this matter internally and taking appropriate action - the safety and security of mail is of the utmost importance to our business.”