Skeletons appeal dubbed macabre

Opening of the Blackpool Tower Dungeon.

Opening of the Blackpool Tower Dungeon.

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A BLACKPOOL attraction has been branded ‘macabre’ after appealing for people to donate their skeletons to the display.

Merlin is offering people who donate their bodies to medical science the chance to have their bones exhibited at the Blackpool Tower Dungeon.

But the move has come under fire from the Manchester University medical school after Merlin claimed bodies would go to its faculty of medical and human sciences for use in anatomy classes prior to being cleaned up and put on display.

A spokesman for the university said: “We have never signed any agreement or even had any discussions with Merlin Entertainments.

“The donation of bodies to university medical schools to assist in the training of future doctors is a very sensitive issue.

“We want to reassure the public the university would never contemplate entering into an agreement of the sort Merlin Entertainments was suggesting, and would want to distance ourselves from any activities that may be deemed undignified, macabre and disrespectful.”

Merlin hoped its appeal would encourage more people to donate their bodies to medical science, but the company admitted it did not have an official agreement with the university.

Garry Blackadder, general manager of the Blackpool Tower Dungeon, said: “We have fake skeletons in some of our historic sets, but there’s nothing to compare with the real thing.

Cause

“And since there is a shortage of bodies for medical science we thought we might be able to help ourselves and help a good cause at the same time.”

Merlin had proposed volunteers would be invited to the Blackpool Tower Dungeon to sign a contract, which would require them to arrange for their bodies to go to the faculty of medical and human sciences at Manchester University after they die.

It would also stipulate once all useful organs and tissues had been removed, the remaining skeletons would be cleaned and sterilised before being displayed. Merlin says one couple, NHS nurses Andrew and Janine Lieshman of Bo’ness, Scotland, have already agreed to donate their skeletons to the Edinburgh Dungeon.

A spokesman said: “While The Blackpool Tower Dungeon does not have an official agreement with the University of Manchester, it’s canvassing for skeletal donations and fully supports the donation of body parts to a place of medical science to further help research.”

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) said body donations are legal providing the relevant consent forms have been signed.

The venue must also have a licence from the HTA to display any remains, which the Blackpool Dungeon currently does not have.