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Unpleasant birthday surprise for Doris

PUBLISHED: 11:23 16 September 2009 | UPDATED: 21:40 07 July 2010

WHILE Doris Partridge opened a pile of 80th birthday cards, one plain envelope gave her daughter an unusual shock.

WHILE Doris Partridge opened a pile of 80th birthday cards, one plain envelope gave her daughter an unusual shock.

“I am sorry to hear that Mrs Doris Partridge has died,” said the letter from the Department for Work and Pensions, asking for details of the funeral arrangements.

Daughter Anne explained that she read the note in shock while her supposedly late mother was happily sitting in the same room.

“When I opened the letter my language was blue, to say the least,” said the former accountant, who lives with her elderly mother in East Harling, near Thetford.

“It was a letter that mum should never see.”

The accidental announcement was dated September 2, the same date as Doris' 80th birthday.

Doris, an 80-year-old former clerical worker and keen dancer, said that she did her best to stop it spoiling the day of celebration.

“I had a lovely birthday, but all this was in the back of my mind. You cannot forget a thing like that,” she said.

While it came as an unwelcome surprise to both mother and daughter, the letter has also had more serious consequences.

Because government computers now list Doris as deceased, her pension and disability payments have been stopped entirely until her identity can be proven.

This is putting a serious financial strain on the household, which has lost an income of £650 per month.

“If I went much longer I wouldn't have a penny. The time will come when there will no money to buy food,” she said.

“They've stopped my pension and my attendance allowance. This could even stop me having medical treatment and take me off the electoral roll.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions was quick to apologise for the error.

“This has clearly been a mistake on our part and we are looking into what happened,” they said.

“We sincerely regret any upset caused and will be contacting the customer as soon as possible to apologise personally.”

Anne and her mother are currently waiting for a written apology and a resolution to the mistake.


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