After a long wait our new hearse has finally arrived.
A couple of weeks ago we carried out two green burials within a few days of each other. They were at different burial grounds so, whilst essentially the same thing, they were very different in their approach.
The first one was at Hill Holt Wood in their recently opened burial ground at Norton Big Wood. The ceremony was held in the Round Room at Hill Holt, led by one of our local secular ceremony officiants. The room was packed to overflowing with mourners, I think it says a lot about a person when so many people take the time to come and pay their respects and say goodbye. After the ceremony we made our way to Big Wood, a drive of a couple of miles on the country lanes to avoid going on the A46. The burial area is a good five minute walk into the woods from the car park, the coffin is carried on a suitably adapted trailer pulled by a small tractor. This might sound a little odd but is entirely in keeping with the feel and ethos of the burial ground. The burials take place in a cleared glade round an old, established oak tree. The number of burials round each tree will be limited but the woodland is large, as the name suggests, so space is not an issue.
The second burial was at Brightwater Green Burial Meadow, near Saxby. On this occasion we all met at the graveside and the brief ceremony was conducted by family members. The mourners then went to the Barn, about half a mile away, which is available for ceremonies and refreshments, to continue with an informal ceremony and an exhibition of the deceased’s photographic work. The burial ground is very different to Hill Holt in that it is open meadow with areas of newly planted trees. At the moment it has a very open feel, with big Lincolnshire skies around you. As the trees grow, the site will change but will always be predominantly a meadow.
It is good to have burial grounds that, whilst offering what is basically the same facility, have such variation in how that is achieved. They are both radically different from the ‘standard’ cemetery with neat cut lawns and rows of headstones and are also different from each other.
A few weeks ago we carried out the funeral of a Land Rover enthusiast. The family wanted as many Land Rovers in the cortege as possible and for none of them to be washed. They also arranged for an ex-military Land Rover to act as the hearse.
Some twenty Land Rovers, varying from competitive trials vehicles based on 1960s Land Rovers to reasonably clean Freelanders and Discoverys left the family home just outside Lincoln.
Normally a hearse breaking down on route to the crematorium would be a disaster, on this occasion when the Series Three Land Rover did the usual trick of overheating in the traffic, causing the petrol in the fuel line to boil, it was not a problem. When you have an old Land Rover a tow rope is never far away. The family said the breakdown was perfect – exactly what a Land Rover does best!
It was a most unusual arrival at the crematorium and not one I want to repeat in my hearse.
All in all a memorable day and the most fitting tribute for a Land Rover fan.
We have carried out another green burial today, this time at Hill Holt Wood. The burial ground is full, this person had pre-purchased their plot a while ago. There seems to be something very human and natural about burying someone in amongst trees and wildflowers. There was a ceremony held in the Round Room prior to the burial, all the buildings on the site have been built using natural materials from local, sustainable sources.
Hill Holt Wood do a lot of community work and training, the wood is also open to the public, well worth a visit for a walk in the peace and quiet.
Photo shows the hearse outside the Round Room.
I’ve just been interviewed for BBC Radio Lincolnshire about apprenticeships and training in the funeral profession. I hope it sounds ok.
The press release below is from the Natural Death Centre, personally I think these people talk a lot of sense, there is huge potential for improvement in parts of the funeral service.
TIME TO WAKE UP TO A CORPORATE FUNERAL INDUSTRY THAT FAILS BOTH THE LIVING AND THE DEAD.
THE NATURAL DEATH CENTRE CHARITY CALLS FOR A RETHINK OF BRITISH DEATH.
Death does not become us. The British Way of Death – the title of an explosive undercover documentary that aired on ITV on Wednesday September 26th – shocked audiences by revealing the dark side of a hugely profitable funeral business. In it, undercover journalists discovered shocking examples of racism and gross disrespect of both the living and the dead.
Driven, articulate and determined to hold profit-led funeral businesses to account, the Natural Death Centre Charity is calling for a new approach based on truth and transparency.
‘We have known about dark practices for many years in the conventional funeral industry and are disgusted by the most recent examples and allegations shown in September’s programme,’ says Rosie Inman-Cook, manager of the charity. ‘The programme further illustrates that there are areas of the British funeral industry that are not fit for purpose.’
‘It’s a national disgrace; the reality is that within the funeral industry there are juggernaut firms committed to feeding share-holders and venture capitalists at the expense of the customer, where the most vulnerable are often subjected to hard sell tactics and robbed of dignity.’
While responses to the programme will likely include calls for more regulation, Fran Hall, Chairman of Trustees of the charity warns; ‘This is a typical knee jerk response and will achieve nothing. It is impossible for regulation processes set up by trade bodies to be impartial and fair, together with the knowledge that there is no government appetite for regulation.’
‘The key to change and the way forward is an open, honest approach from the funeral industry, alongside an informed and discriminating public,’ says Rosie. ‘The Natural Death Centre (NDC) has long pioneered good practice whereby the public take control of their dead and their funerals.’