Grieving Sheffield widow misses funeral over taxi problems

Paul Potts with his grieving mum Joan
Paul Potts with his grieving mum Joan
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A grieving grandmother was left sobbing in her Sheffield home while her late husband was cremated - because her extra-wide wheelchair could not fit into a taxi booked to take her to the service.

Joan Potts, aged 75, has been unable to walk since having her left leg amputated after a road accident last year, and has barely been out of the house.

Joan Potts pictured with her Son

Joan Potts pictured with her Son

But because of her wheelchair’s dimensions, the taxi was unable to take her to Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium for the funeral of beloved husband Graham, 76.

Joan, who met her retired warehouseman husband in 1954 when she was a cinema usherette and he was in the Army, said: “It was terrible to miss Graham’s funeral - I just had to sit at home.

“I’d been married to Graham 54 years and couldn’t even get the chance to say a proper goodbye.”

Paul Potts, one of the couple’s two sons, stayed with his mum in Millhouses to comfort her as the funeral took place, attended by the rest of the family.

Graham Potts, from Millhouses (deceased)

Graham Potts, from Millhouses (deceased)

Paul said: “There needs to be more clarity about what types of wheelchairs taxis can take. My mum had not used a taxi since she was injured but, because it was advertised as wheelchair accessible, she thought it would be all right.

“The whole family is upset and the undertaker couldn’t believe what happened. The vicar couldn’t either.”

Paul said ‘various attempts’ were made to get his mother into the taxi, provided by City Taxis and booked two weeks ahead.

But the task had to be abandoned - and the funeral could not be delayed.

City Taxis said it sent the largest type of taxi in its fleet, and the Potts family could have had an ambulance or council-funded minibus to take Joan to the funeral.

Paul said he was unaware Sheffield Community Transport provides such a service.

Kevin Flint, City Taxis operations manager, said: “Our driver arrived at the pre-booked time with the largest style of vehicle licensed for the transport of wheelchair users.

“By coincidence, the driver was a friend of Mrs Potts’ family, and made every effort to load Mrs Potts and her wheelchair into his vehicle safely.

“Unfortunately, due to the large dimensions of the wheelchair, the driver was unable to load the chair safely and therefore could not complete the journey.

“City Taxis would like to extend its deepest sympathy and condolences to Mrs Potts, her family and friends.”