close
close

British grandfather, 43, whose ashes were poured into the sea at his favorite place in Turkey in an emotional ceremony by family and friends that shocked locals.

By James Reynolds and Matt Drake

10:20 p.m. on May 15, 2024, updated 12:27 a.m. on May 16, 2024

  • Nathan Jon “Vodkaman” Leonard, 43, sadly passed away on April 3 last year
  • His family sparked controversy after traveling to Türkiye to spread his ashes

A British grandfather whose ashes were spread at his beloved holiday spot in Turkey has been photographed and named.

Nathan Jon “Vodkaman” Leonard, 43, sadly passed away on April 3 last year from pneumonia, COVID and a heart attack.

On Monday, his family scattered his ashes on Uzunyalı Beach in Marmaris, Turkey, as a moving tribute.

However, the ceremony also shocked local people as cremation is not legal in the country, triggering a health alert.

Nathan Leonard’s ashes were poured into the sea at his favorite place in Turkey in a moving ceremony by family and friends.
Mr Leonard’s family and friends spread his ashes in the sea, sparking health warning in Turkey
Nathan Jon ‘Vodkaman’ Leonard, 43 (pictured) sadly passed away on April 3 last year
Mr Leonard was born in Hull on February 19, 1980 to Peter and Mandy Leonard, with whom he also lived.

Mr Leonard was born in Hull on February 19, 1980 to Peter and Mandy Leonard, with whom he also lived.

He had two daughters, Talia and Dakota, with Fiona Fielding and he also had a granddaughter, Dolce.

The grandfather also sometimes worked at Bar X in Marmaris, Turkey.

Following his death, Ms Fielding wrote in April last year: “My heart is absolutely broken for my two daughters Talia Leonard, Dakota Leonard and my granddaughter Dolce for the sad loss of their father and grandfather Nathan Leonard .

“My heart is with your mom and dad Mandy Leonard and Peter and the rest of your family are sleeping peacefully Nathan and thank you our beautiful girls.”

The grandfather also sometimes worked at Bar X in Marmaris, Turkey. The country has been described as his “happy place”
On Monday, his family scattered his ashes on Uzunyalı Beach in Marmaris, Turkey, as a moving tribute.
Mr Leonard’s family issued health alert in Turkey after wading into sea to scatter ashes

His mother, Mandy, said: “Well, I know my son Nathan (vodka man) was the love of my life. Now he’s making the news in Marmaris because he’s in his happy place.

“Our hearts are broken, Nathan Leonard fought to the end against pneumonia, covid and a heart attack from 02/19/1980 to 04/03/2023, I always love you, my son.”

Mr Leonard’s family issued a health alert in Turkey after wading into the sea to scatter ashes.

Health authorities in Marmaris, on the southern Aegean coast, launched a hasty investigation and took water samples following negative reactions from locals to Monday’s ceremony.

Swimmers warned that spreading ash into popular waters near the beach could endanger health, prompting the district’s regional health directorate to urgently respond.

Cremation is not legal in Turkey and restrictions are in place to limit the entry of ashes into the country.

Mr. Leonard’s family scatters his late relative’s ashes on Uzunyalı beach
The moving tribute organized by the family and friends of the late Briton, according to Turkish media

Water tests organized by local authorities were not directly linked and there is no immediate health risk posed by the ash in the sea.

However, restrictions on the scattering of ashes in Turkey have in the past caused significant inconvenience to travelers.

Users on the British forum described the long process of working with Turkish and British bureaucracies to obtain permission to hold a farewell.

Robin, writing on the bereavement support charity forum Sue Ryder, said it took them almost two years to get permission from all the relevant authorities to scatter their wife’s ashes.

“My wife has always loved Turkey since the first time we went there 40 years ago… so it was obvious she would want to relax,” they wrote.

“Unfortunately, it’s never that simple.

“It took me almost two years to get permissions from the UK airport, the airline, the Turkish airport, the Turkish government, Turkish local council officials, representatives of the main mosques, Turkish police and local port authorities.”

Still, they said they were finally able to arrange the trip and their “minds were at peace” after being able to do “the last physical thing I could do for her.”

Although some airlines allow passengers to take their ashes to Turkey in their carry-on luggage, restrictions remain in place on what people can do with them after landing.

Cremation is not legal in Türkiye and there are no cremation facilities.

When a Briton dies in Turkey, the UK government advises finding a local funeral director to arrange a funeral, who “will be able to explain the local process”.

Turkey is a Muslim country and, although non-Muslims are permitted to be buried according to their own burial practices in the country, cremation is not permitted under Islamic law.

Bereaved people can also organize the repatriation of the body to their home.

In 2022, cultural sensitivities on this topic were felt when a Turk was accidentally cremated in a hospital in Hanover.

Uzunyal beach in southwest Turkey was one of the deceased’s favorite places
The illustrative image shows Turunc Bay in Marmaris, one of the many beautiful parts of the coastline.
Health authorities in Marmaris, on the southern Aegean coast, began a hasty investigation and took water samples.

The family of Abdülkadir Sargın, a Turkish citizen, was shocked when, during funeral preparations, they discovered that the person in the coffin was a complete stranger.

Sargın, 71, died of a brain hemorrhage at MHH Hospital in Hannover.

His body was to be transported to a funeral home for an Islamic burial, at the request of the family.

After the gruesome discovery, an intern at the hospital’s morgue admitted to making a mistake and mixing the bodies, according to Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah.

The family became concerned about why the body was cremated so soon after Sargın’s death, and local police began an investigation.