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Family traumatised by Councils neglect of memorial rose garden

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A slightly different blog this week we have been contacted by a lady who is struggling to communicate with Trafford Council about the rose garden where her daughters ashes rest, this is what she said:

In 1997 my daughter Jeannine died at the age of 30 after a very short illness so we were devastated to loose her and she was a vibrant fun loving girl and was engaged to be married.  We decided to cremate our daughter and Altrincham Crematorium gave us options of where to scatter her ashes and we decided that the Rose Garden which in 1997 was absolutely beautiful was the right place as Jeannine loved gardens. 

So we leased a Standard Rose for 5 years  at the cost of £75.00 with the option to take another 5 years and so on and purchased a plaque with her name on it and all my family and the local vicar went to the Rose Garden and a Gardener dug a large hole and put her ashes in and planted the standard rose on top of the ashes.   It was a sad day but we had a memorial to my beautiful daughter and somewhere for me to visit regularly.  And I go every 2 to 3 weeks because this rose tree is the only tangible thing I have got.  But in around 2015 the Council subcontracted out the maintenance to Amey LG and the whole of the crematorium has deteriorated and in the Rose Garden they never weeded it or hoed or fed the roses and they are in a poor condition and I constantly complained in the office but they said they were short of funds and what we pay wasn’t enough and I answered with –  then charge more. 

On one of my many visits to the office complaining (and I add at this point that my husband and I have been weeding the beds every time we go and it’s not hard work) I was handed a letter saying that no Leases will be renewed after their renewal dates and they are going to take out the roses and redesign the whole area.   I was devastated at this news because Jeannine’s ashes are underneath her Rose and if they take it out they will disturb consecrated ground.

I was so mad and upset I got a local Councillor to set up a meeting at the Crematorium and it was ultimately decided that Jeannines Rose and Plaque would remain in situ until the last Lease expires which is 2022. But of course by then the Garden will be derelict and too late to restore the Rose Garden which could be easily saved now and soil fed etc etc.  They constantly tell me that the soil is poor but if you don’t feed it, it will be, but these people are not gardeners and I feel that don’t care in the slightest about our feelings and are completely insensitive. But the entrance to the Crematorium is well maintained and always beautiful flowers and it has to be the same soil as the Rose Garden directly behind but hidden by a huge hedge so no visitors can see how neglected it is. 

I panicked and wrote to the Vicar at the local church and asked him if the ground where my daughters ashes are is sacred and if they removed them would it come under the heading of exhumation, and he replied immediately and told me that there are legal parameters around burial sites and mortal remains which will ensure the safety of my daughter’s ashes, also in law ashes are considered to be the same as a body therefore cannot disturb the resting place as the ashes can’t be divided as its a body.  So I felt relieved that the Council couldn’t disturb the ground underneath the Rose, but I’ve just received a letter from the Chief Executive of Trafford Council and she informs me that the Vicar is correct when mortal remains are interred within a grave space, but this legislation does not apply to the laying to rest of cremated remains, either within a garden of remembrance or other public area.

So I am again frightened that they can remove the standard rose thus disturbing my daughters ashes even though it is in the Memorial Rose Garden provided by the Council and I know there are a lot of people in the same situation as myself.  So if anybody knows the law regarding ashes placed under a rose or tree  in the grounds of a crematorium  please let me know as I need as much support as I can get to help me sort this out.   

I have requested on many occasions to have accounts showing where the Council has spent all our Lease money and every 5 years I have paid and the last amount was £150 in March 2013 and has now expired but I’m told that the Lease money for the Rose is not itemised down to the level of the Rose Garden but income generated from memorials is used to support the overall keep of the grounds maintenance etc. etc. but nothing has been done in the Rose Garden for 3 years.    

I would love to hear from Trafford to share their side of the story

I will try to keep my waffly explainintion brief: I think there is two things going on one is legal which is possibly around the definition of interment – were the ashes scattered or interred. The second which is a more moral issue, I would strongly suspect that when Mrs Vickes interred/scattered her daughter’s ashes at the garden of remembrance she expected to be able to visit the her daughters resting place site and the rose bush in perpetuity, the council appear not see it like that.

This is a sad story, I hope this post will help her voice in finding some resolution.

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councils hold ashes

Are councils refusing to hand over ashes in the cases of ‘pauper funerals’?

Right, a controversial subject. Let’s us attempt to set out the stall in a nonpartisan fashion. A Pauper Funeral is an old-fashioned/emotive term for funerals where the local authority are required to step in as the family are either unwilling or unable to pay for the funeral. Technically these are known as public health funerals in England and Wales and as national assistance funerals in Scotland.

Why have they been in the news? An article in the Sunday Times (Councils refuse to hand over ashes to families after pauper funerals). A reporter posed as a family member wishing to have the ashes of a relative returned after a ‘pauper funeral’. The Authority in question was Glasgow. The article lead with “Town halls are accused of callously trying to deter the poor from seeking financial help when loved ones die” and “Councils are refusing to give poverty-stricken families their loved ones’ ashes in an apparent ploy to reduce demand for paupers’ funerals, it can be revealed.”

“In a recorded conversation, an official told a woman posing as a representative of a dead man’s sister: “It’s us having to pay for it, so, as I say, she will not get his ashes back.”

Asked if the sister could scatter her brother’s ashes at a special location, our reporter was told: “I’m afraid not. No.”

The official stated the policy three times, explaining that families had no right to the ashes because the state was paying and they would be disposed of in the council-owned crematorium garden.”

Add a bit more of: how your hard-earned cash is being used to subsidise such things and you have created an argument.

However, this is not the whole story. Why do journalists do this: report what they think will cause outrage at the start of an article then report the whole truth towards the end?

When they pursued it, the council said they didn’t have such a policy and they would educate the team responsible to make this clear.

Glasgow city council said it was legally responsible for “the remains of the deceased” and sometimes a number of people tried to claim the ashes “with no reliable or legal way of determining who should take precedence”.

“However, where this is clear, we can and do pass remains into the care of family members.” It added: “The council is currently creating a fund to support families struggling with funeral costs.”

I suppose Over Officious and Insensitive Crematorium Officer Gets Policy Wrong is hardly article worthy. I am not saying that the council are shining lights of virtue, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some that use tactics to shame families into paying, particularly if they believe a family was using this route, even though they had an ability to pay.

Why was the Times investigating? These funerals have been on rise in recent years. Research by the Citizens Advice Bureau in Stirling shows that 82% of paupers’ funerals in Scotland involve families who are unable, or sometimes unwilling, to pay, up from 44% a decade ago.

Why are they on the rise? Their use has risen in recent years in response to the growing cost of funerals and the declining value of government aid to the bereaved. The Department for Work and Pensions has capped “social fund” extra expenses for funerals at £700 since 2003. The scheme pays towards coffins, flowers and funeral directors’ fees, but eligibility rules are strict and those in work are often excluded. Since 2003 the average cost of a funeral has risen from £1,920 to £4,078.

Couple for things:  Stirling is not a huge are to sample, but I agree they are on the rise. The reasoning for this is perhaps more complex than the capping, but I would imagine it has a lot to with it. Also, average funeral cost isn’t referenced and the price they have used is a bit naughty – that is the average if you bury, we are not talking about burial here we are talking about cremation which is around £3,200.

The article did contain an interesting table on what local authorities spent on these funerals:

If you had the time you could level this out against prosperity and population to give a more reasoned picture. What the article did point out was fascinating was the variation in cost between some of the authorities.

Research by the insurer Royal London shows that although some councils spend generously on paupers’ funerals — Birmingham tops the list, paying out an average of £1,847 on 376 occasions in 2015-16 — others keep the annual cost to three figures. Tamworth borough council managed to spend just £200 on one funeral. Broxbourne, Warrington, Chorley, East Staffordshire, Eastleigh and South Lakeland also spent under £1,000.

Why are there such variations? Good question, looking at the numbers you might expect the opposite: that those with the greatest cost would have the lowest unit cost. However that is clearly not the case. Tamworth’s cost were nine times less than Birmingham’s, now please excuse me while I dip into the land of supposition. Birmingham’s issue is much greater than most, so they needed a simpler solution: outsource. By getting a set price from a large funeral director for a direct cremation and use your purchasing power to get the price down – £1,847 looks suspiciously like the cost of direct cremation with a bit knocked off. Where Tamworth with just the one, with access to their own crematoria will just be paying for essentials like the coffin. It does beg the question why Birmingham CC don’t have an inhouse funeral directors, looks like they could save a lot of money – but I’m sure there are good reasons.

But how big an issue is it? Not that much in the scheme of things: Local authorities spent £4m on this, there were just over ½ million deaths in last year and 4000 authority funerals – equating to 0.8% of all funerals compared to around 8% of the population that are defined as being in “persistent income poverty”. So even 90% of extremely poor families are managing somehow.

One must also remember that austerity has meant councils needing to maximise income streams, therefore a dramatic increase in revenue from one of their cash cows – crematoria fees. Which is one of the main reasons for the increase in funeral costs recently.

So the article lead to the general array of comments which fall into three broad categories:  the uncaring / tough love brigade: ‘Come on! everyone can pull that sort of cash together’ or ‘Everyone dies they should have thought and saved for it, why should those that hard work pay’; the compassionates – ‘they must be desperate to use this option don’t make their lives any worse’ ; And the plain ignorant ‘All bodies get burnt together’

So there you have it, nothing hugely suprising.






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Training course

Training Course: Scattering or Interring of Cremated Remains

Training Course: Scattering or Interring of Cremated Remains

Training Course. There is a growing trend for funerals to focus on the ashes element of the ceremony which is a very positive development. However, often those doing the scattering will have received little or no formal training. A small investment in staff training will have two major benefits, it will increase personal development for every trainee, and will provide a better customer service for your families.

Scattering Ashes has teamed up with Civil Ceremonies Ltd , the market leaders in ceremonies in the UK, to offer the first nationwide accredited training course on scattering or interring of ashes.

The course aims to enable cremation staff to create and deliver a personal ceremony for families who are scattering or interring cremated remains.

The course will include:

  • How to interview a bereaved family to obtain the information required to create a ceremony.
  • Creation of an appropriate and bespoke ceremony for mourners that encourages appropriate participation and the use of poetry and verse,
  • How to organise the mourners,
  • How to strew and scatter the ashes in a dignified and culturally appropriate way,
  • How to deliver an ashes ceremony and support mourners.

Participants who successfully complete the one day course will be awarded with a level one course credit value 1 from the issuing body ONE Awards. This is a government approved training scheme which provides access to HE diplomas.

Who should attend?
This course is designed for persons and organisations who are looking to deliver a more professional service around the scattering or interning of ashes, and for organisations interested in staff development.

Size: Small groups up to a maximum of 10 attendees

Duration: full day

Course Location

Devon: The course is delivered here in Devon in a beautiful location on the edge of Dartmoor. We can also provide good value accommodation and excellent locally sourced meals for a small additional sum tailored specifically to your needs and dietary requirements. We can provide meals & accommodation, from a simple lunch to an overnight stay with Bistro dining experience. Please contact us for the full range of options.
Cost: £185pp*

On site: We are very happy to come to your premises and deliver training directly to your staff on site using your specific location and premises. We require a minimum of 6 people per course.
Cost: £185pp*

* cost includes all course materials, certification & handbook.

To discuss or make further enquiries please email or call 01392 581012

For more details please use the contact for below

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your contact number (required)

Your Message - please include dates if known

You will need to tick the following box - it cuts out spam

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cremation law

Changes to Cremation Regulations in England and Wales will impact ashes

Amendments to the cremation regulations are on their way they come into force on the 6th April 2018. They apply to cremations within England and Wales.

How have they changed and what will it mean, there have been two big changes:

  • There will be a new application forms which will include a section where the applicant (this is the person arranging the funeral) can state what they want done with the ashes after the cremation. You will be able to change your mind but this will need to be in writing.
  • There is one brave but necessary change that they have introduced. Previously there had been a tiny number of extremely distressing cases where the applicant had been an abusers or even a murder and these people stopped the ashes being taken by relatives who were the victims, causing even greater stress and sadness. Specifically this relates to where they have been imprisoned for causing the death of the deceased or have been convicted of violence against a spouse where the cremation was of their child. So the law now allows for the crematoria to give the ashes to someone other the applicant in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Now this is the right thing to do but is likely to cause the crematoria a huge amount of issues and open the door to litigation, nevertheless – well done policy makers. I will keep you posted if guidance becomes available.

Also worth noting:

  • You will be able to ‘sign electronically’ rather than a paper copy
  • There will be bilingual Welsh forms – newyddion gwych i siaradwyr Cymraeg
  • If your cremation has been organised before the 6th but carried after you don’t need to reapply

The Cremation (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 were laid in Parliament on 19th December and will come into force on 6th April 2018.


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Myth busting at Tesside Crematoria

First and foremost I must apologise for plagiarism, not something I tend to do, but this really couldn’t be improved upon.  The main reason I reproduce like this on occasion is so that good stuff like this does not get lost in the morass that is the web. So I hope I can be forgiven – originally written by BY TONI GUILLOT with pictures from Ian Cooper. This aticle is from the Gazzette Live in Tessside – this ia the Link

The journalist asked Colin Duncan, bereavement services manager for Middlesbrough Council to answer a few questions and bust a few myths. Although these points are answered in other places on the site the detail is very informative.

Q. How many furnaces do you have?

A. We don’t call them furnaces or incinerators. As they are specifically designed for cremations, they are called ‘cremators’.

We have five of them here at Teesside Crematorium, two were installed when the crematorium was opened in 1961 and three were installed in 2010.

Q. How big are the cremators? Are they only big enough for one coffin?

A. A standard coffin for a cremation measures 28” wide and our cremators range from 28” to 42” wide.

They are not large enough to take more than one coffin at a time – and we have never attempted to.

Q. How long does it take to cremate a coffin? And what temperature do the cremators reach?

A. In our older cremators the temperature often reaches 1200°C although the modern cremators generally reach between 900 and 1100°C.

It normally takes about 80-90 minutes to complete a cremation although larger coffins sometimes take up to two hours.

Q. In an average working day, how many coffins are cremated?

A. We can provide up to 24 services per day, although we rarely have that many services.

On average throughout the year we have 11 services between our two chapels.

We can easily manage to complete all cremations on the same day, although there are very rare occasions when failures to one or more cremators cause us to have to delay a cremation.

Q. Do coffins get reused? Are the handles removed? Or are all coffins sealed?

A. Coffin lids are secured before they are brought to the crematorium and once a coffin has been placed on the catafalque – the wooden framework which supports the coffin – in the chapel, it is cremated with all its contents.

We let funeral arrangers know the sizes of our cremators so that the full coffin, including handles, can fit inside the hearth.

It’s very important therefore that, with the exception of certain surgical implants, whenever possible only natural, combustible materials are placed inside the coffin.

Q. How do you ensure that the ashes don’t get contaminated or mixed together?

A. After each cremation, the ashes are allowed to cool and the remains are swept into an ashes container.

In this way, the hearth is cleared of virtually all ashes from the previous cremation before another coffin is placed into the cremator.

An identity card with the name of the deceased accompanies the coffin to the cremator, and then accompanies the cremated remains throughout the remainder of the journey.

Q. Are pieces of jewellery or precious items removed from the coffin beforehand?

A. No. Funeral arrangers are encouraged to remove precious items before the service as they generally do not survive the process of cremation.

Crematorium staff never tamper with coffins or remove jewellery.

We follow a voluntary ‘Code of Cremation Practice’ which specifically requires us to cremate the coffin and all contents, and then to dispose of all cremated remains in accordance with the instructions that we have received from the funeral arranger.

Q. What happens to items which have not been cremated fully?

A. The remains of any jewellery or other items are either recycled with other metals from the coffin or returned to the applicant on request.

Teesside Crematorium takes part in a national not-for-profit metal recycling arrangement, which return all proceeds to local charities.

The applicant for each cremation is invited to take part in the arrangement and may decline if they wish. For cremations that take part in this arrangement, metal is removed after cremation.

Q. How long before the coffin goes into the cremator after the service?

A. Usually this happens immediately, but sometimes if we have had several services beforehand, the cremation may not begin for a few hours.

It virtually always happens on the same day and we would inform the funeral arranger if the cremation was going to be delayed until the following day.

Q. What is the quirkiest thing, if any, that has happened at a funeral service?

We once carried out a service for a helicopter pilot and at the beginning of the service a helicopter appeared over the chapel and took a bow before flying away.

And more recently we held a service for a lady who had graced the stage in local operatic and theatrical productions. And so as part of her service, when the time came for the curtains to be closed around the coffin, we arranged a brief curtain call which was received with great applause.

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So what are ashes worth? Morton hall case settled out of court

One thing we constantly hear is ashes are “Priceless”. But money is money and when the solicitors get involved the only language is hard cash.

The Scottish Morton hall scandal has been widely reported: the ashes of stillborn or very young children were not returned to the parents, they were told there were not any to return, often this was not true. When this was uncovered it caused a world of pain for all those involved.

Initially, Edinburgh City Council offered those impacted £4000, which around 100 families accepted, accepting the offer prevented them from taking further legal action. However, that left around 80 families who did not take them up on the offer, whether because they wanted nothing or more, we can’t say.

However, the saga has moved on another step. One mother who claimed she suffered a significant impact took the council to court, suing the authority for £75,000. The mother’s legal team wanted the case to be heard by a civil jury rather than a single judge, presumably as they tend to be more emotive. But the case was settled before the big day, defence teams prefer this so it doesn’t set a precedent and the figure paid is undisclosed, the plaintiff’s like it as it is less risky and they possibly get more than the judge would award.

It is unclear whether the full amount was paid. A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an individual case.”. It is unlikely that the full amount was paid, but it I perhaps likely that a good chunk of it would be.

So, now we ‘know’ what are ashes worth? Somewhere between nothing and £75,000, with mean being around £4,000? To make it clear here I am being deliberately trite to make a point.

However, that was not the only interesting point of the article. The first is what was said by Dorothy Maitland, the former leader of the charity which exposed the Morton hall babies ashes scandal, she said: “I know a lot of the parents felt that what they got was ridiculous, but they just didn’t have the strength or the finance to fight it in case they lost.

“Others did refuse and if Madelaine’s case is ultimately successful they may well come forward with their own claims.”

And she added: “I accepted the compensation offer because money was not the be all and end all for me and I wasn’t able to fight any further after the truth came out. At the end of the day I don’t think I could have gone through two years of this. The council has created a memorial garden for at Mortonhall and that is worth more than anything.”

I think she is right. An apology, a rectification and the memorial garden must be the right answer. Ashes should not be financial, but I know others disagree.

Finally, looking at the comments it reinforced this, ordinarily the comments on such issues are full of disgust and anger towards an authority. However, the two comments were as follows:

Well there you have it. Dead children’s remains whether dust, or in a grave now have a value if you are interested in pursuing it. It is not the kind of thing folk would pursue fifty odd years ago, but unfortunately grandparents no longer rule the world.

I suspect that the source of this so-called scandal was a possibly misplaced exercise of paternalistic kindness: someone thought it was kinder to tell the parents there were no ashes and this hardened into a practice that no administrator ever questioned.

Original Story:

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time crematoria

Did you feel you had long enough for your ceremony at the crematorium?

We asked the public whether they had long enough for their ceremony at the crematorium for their service?

Yes the length of time was right – 56.25%

Just a about enough time              – 16.25%

It was slightly rushed                      – 8.75%

It was far too short                           – 5.00%


This was the comments that that left:

  • My funeral director advised to book a triple slot as that worked out perfectly for the double funeral of both my parents. Coychurch Crematorium gave us the last 3 slots of the afternoon from 2.45pm so there was no funeral after ours and so there was no rush.
  • We had a double slot to allow for time to greet everyone following the ceremony.
  • [There was a ] Conveyor belt feeling, despite best efforts of staff to manage it.
  • Service time fine but when we come outside talking and thanking family and friends the next service was waiting respectfully for us to leave and it made their time slot late.
  • [The Crematorium] has one chapel with 30 minutes slots and this does not give any time when you have a larger attendance because we had 40 people attending some older and slower.
  • These days most crematoria are on an hourly service and Mansfield should adapt to this too
  • The service is dependent on who your funeral service is conducted by.
  • I booked a double session to allow people to arrive and leave unrushed.
  • Unknown until all is done
  • We asked for a longer service and they allowed us to do this

So in conclusion: for most people the time allowed seems appropriate, one might hope that the percentage was higher, suggesting to me that timings could be looked at so that it is up near the 80% mark, as one has to accept it it will never be entirely satisfactory for everyone.

The other thing perhaps worth noting was the many people in the comments section booked extended slots, which provided them enough time, a very interesting point was made that with a elderly congregation in large numbers had a serious impact on time.

Finally, I hope also that funeral directors and crematoria alike inform mourners that this an option, clearly one respondent was unaware that this was an option.

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Crematoin survey

What do the public think of Crematoria – Part 1

We are running an on-going survey on the website asking members of the public what they think of crematoria. We understand that those offering cremation services are in a difficult position when wanting feedback on what they provide – they can hardly stand outside with a clipboard.

Over three posts we will shedding light on some of the highs and lows of what the public love and what they don’t.

We have been collecting results since the end of last year (2016) and we now feel we have enough data to make some broad statements. If you want to see the survey – here is the link – survey . Before any data collection experts haul me over the coals,  I have done my best to make it non-prejudicial or leaning, but others may think differently.

The headline figure is perhaps the most interesting. On the main question –

Overall how would you rate the crematorium the score was a whopping 4.4 out of five (with over 70% of respondents scoring 5 out of 5) for the overall experience.

What are the top 10 issues they most dislike?

  1. If there is nobody to greet them when they arrive and show them the way (this was the most common complaint)
  2. Not having enough time in the chapel
  3. A poor sound system
  4. Uncomfortable seating and/or lack of consideration for disabled guests
  5. Unattractive chapels with tired decoration schemes
  6. Waiting areas that are not private, uncovered or too small to accommodate everyone attending
  7. Poor parking
  8. Rudeness of those officiating
  9. Lack of time and attention from the priest or vicar
  10. Not being offered a cup of tea

Oh, and one person would have liked a water fountain! (which I thought was nice)

All issues seem fairly reasonable and things that one might expect. I hope those controlling the budget are investing in such issues. As cremation these days averages at around £750 – so one should expect things to be right.

Over the next two posts we will explore the public opinion on decor, gardens of remembrance and whether or not they thought the cremation was value for money, which is a difficult question to ask and to answer, but very important nonetheless.

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british crematorium

Walk through a British Crematorium: a lovely authentic video

The video below is really nice walk through a crematorium here in the UK, the video appeared in article written for the Plymouth Herald in Devon and features Karen Jennings, the council’s bereavement service manager. The video is under five minutes and what I loved about it is that it isn’t some super polished corporate video with cut aways and sound effects. It is one lady talking to you,  from the front of house to behind the scenes at Plymouth Crematoria. It is genuine and for me give a lovely overview, dispelling some of the nonsense and myth that crematoria tend to generate.

Here is the full article, in fact it is so full of ‘good stuff’ I think it will make the subject of another post….

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Do they cremate multiple bodies at once?

Do they cremate multiple bodies at once?

Do they cremate multiple bodies at once?  No they don’t. In the UK the Code insists that each cremation is carried out separately.

Furthermore the aperture (opening/door) of cremator in which the coffins are place is only big enough to accept one coffin.

There are certain exceptions, specifically in certain where the cases of mother and child or small twin children. However the next of kin or the executor of the will need to specifically make this request. In these case both bodies are cremated within the same coffin


This frequently asked question highlights the opaqueness of funeral practises coupled with society general reticence to confront this issue, plus a pinch of conspiracy thrown in for good measure. You would be utterly amazed by the amount of people who have a strong and vocal opinion of the poor operational procedures of crematoria without the slightest shred of evidence or personal experience. To overcome this many crematoria if requested will allow people to witness a cremation.

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deception weston

Somerset Crematorium tricks relatives over a scattering – then hold their hands up

This story reported in Somerset Live is interesting first as you don’t get to hear of many wrong-doings here in the UK. Whether that is because produces are tight or there is a code of silence one can’t say but knowing a little of what goes on I am inclined to believe the former.

Anyway staff of Dignities Weston crematorium in Somerset had the ashes of a ladies partner. The instruction was to divide them and give half to the family and scatter the rest in the presence of the family. However the staff at the crematorium got it badly wrong and scattered half the ashes without the family being present, then in attempted to cover up their mistake by inviting the family to witness the scattering of stranger in the belief it was their loved one.

Now that is awful and deceitful, but what is refreshing and quite commendable is the company actually confused their mistake when this incident came to the attention of senior management, they did not conspire in this deception they instead confessed what had happened and sought to apologise straight way. Well you might think so they bloomin’ well should and indeed that is true, but in actually it was quite a brave moved. They did the right thing even though nobody would have ever known the wiser, which bearing in mind they are private and generally private companies don’t have a habit of shouting mea cupla from the roof tops: then I have to say I am obviously saddened that the incident happened, but pleasantly surprised to know the end result.

A spokesperson from Dignity said: “We deeply regret the distress caused to this family and our manager immediately apologised to them once staff admitted what happened.

“A thorough investigation is being held to understand why fully-trained, experienced staff failed to follow the established, robust procedures we have in place.

“We take this incident very seriously and it may lead to disciplinary action against all staff concerned.”

I hope the family have been able to come to terms with this and I hope the company will go on to have rock solid procedures

Original story is at at

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Crematoria: good or bad – we want your opinion please

When we die, most people in the UK are cremated as opposed to buried. In fact over three-quarters of us. Elsewhere places such as the US, Canada and Australia the percentage is over 50 and rising.

Cost is given as a reason for the increased numbers. However, cremation whilst still less expensive is far from cheap. Average cost as part of a funeral is upwards of £700 with parts of the southeast being around £900 and increasing year on year. Added to this there is a trend towards missing the church part out and having the service just at the crematoria, secularisation is given as a reason we are ‘skipping’ the church part. Making crematoria themselves a very important part of the funeral. So whilst costs go up, does that mean the value and the level of service increases too, are crematoria up to the demands we place upon them?

We want to know what you think? What ever information we find out we will share (anonymously of course) to help improve the way things are done.

Please spare some time to click on the link and complete our anonymous survey, there are only nine questions so it won’t take very long (they are mainly multiple choice)

Follow the link – Crematoria Survey

Many thanks

Richard Martin


Scattering Ashes

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cremation crematoria cayman

Cremation in Paradise – Cayman Islands to open its first crematoria

The Cayman Islands are a three-island group set within the Caribbean sea, they are a small British Overseas Territory that sounds so very exotic. The group of island is fairly small (102 square miles) and tends rightly or wrongly to be one of those places associated with offshore money.

Well, the people of the islands have a brand-new crematorium. With cemeteries filling up and 30 to 40 cremations being carried out overseas, one funeral director has invested in a facility to cope with potential demand. They don’t know how many people will use the facility as tradition on the islands has very mush centred around burial. But they expect a portion of the 200 deaths per year to end in cremation.

Scott Ruby, the general manager of Bodden Funeral Services said the firm had made a considerable investment to bring the custom-built facility to Cayman, making cremation an option on the island for the first time.

And who is going to have the honour of being the first to use the facility? Probably Sammy Smyth, a British footballing hero who died in Cayman last month at age 91. His daughter Sheena Conolly said she hoped to have a service in Cayman and then bring his ashes back to his native Northern Ireland for a ceremony in his hometown.

Mr Ruby added that some people prefer to be able to take their relatives’ ashes to their home country or to scatter them in a favourite place.

Which I guess, with the islands being one of those locations where people live who are necessarily not born there then it makes sense.

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good funeral awards 2016

Winner of the Crematoria of the Year 2016

Scattering Ashes was the proud sponsor of the Crematoria of the Year at the Good Funeral Awards 2016, we are keen to encourage improve the customer experience of this sector, and recognise this often chastised part of the industry.

There were six crematoria who made the long-list at the 2016 Good Funeral Awards.

Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff

Gwent Crematorium

Kettering Crematorium

Mortlake Crematorium

Redditch Crematorium

Congratulations too all those organisations who entered.

The winner was Thornhill Crematorium. Why? well this is what the judges said

Thornhill crematoria has achieved outstanding improvements to its service provision in the last year.

  • The crematorium is addressing funeral poverty in imaginative ways. A privately run flower shop has opened on site, furthering the support for the Cardiff Council Funeral Service. The Cardiff Council Funeral Service was a pioneering initiative when it was established in a bid to address funeral poverty and to challenge the rising costs of funerals whilst making the funeral purchase more transparent. Approximately 12% of all cremations use the service.
  • Both chapels have been refurbished, and the Wenallt Chapel, which seats 168, has a new waiting room, toilets and exit.This was undertaken at no additional cost to the Authority and was achieved by clever budget juggling.
  • The Book of Remembrance has been re-sited resulting in an improved visitor experience as the new location in the central area of the Gardens of Remembrance has separated those visiting to remember their loved ones from those attending funerals. A digital Book of Remembrance has also been included allowing families access to their loved one’s name throughout the year rather than just once a year. This room has environmentally friendly lighting installed, CCTV and new cabinets to ensure these unique memorials are correctly housed.
  • The crematorium has a Green Flag and has undertaken initiatives designed to boost its eco-credentials. Recycling operatives on site recycle the wreaths to minimise waste and bins are provided split into green waste, plastic and general waste. All plastic waste is recycled and the green waste is composted.
  • Thornhill Crematorium has a 98% satisfaction and performs 2,700 cremations annually. Three memorial services are held per annum at Christmas, Palm Sunday and a Baby Memorial Service supported by Sands and the University Hospital of Wales Chaplaincy Department.

Martin Birch Operational Manager Bereavement & Registration Services for the City and County of Cardiff received the award : “I am personally extremely proud of the team we have in Cardiff and the service we provide. It is wonderful that the work we do has been recognised at a national level through such a prestigious award. This is a real positive lift for everyone associated with our service and we will continue to look to make improvements to our service for the benefit of the bereaved.”

The prize awarded to Thornhill was from the host of the evening  former GMTV host Penny Smith, the Photo is courtesy of Jackie King.

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cost money cremation

Cremation – what you get and what it costs

The average cost of cremation currently is just below the £700 mark. The cost of the fuel for the cremation is around £30.

What! I hear you cry that is outrageous! Well yes, but it is not quite as simple as that. The question is are we being ripped off? Or are we getting value for money?

In a BBC article from 2015 in quoted the following:

The cost of cremation at Mortlake Crematorium was £500

Cost of cremation breaks down as follows:

Spent on staffing                                                                                          £181

Profit allocated to improvements                                                            £163

Building maintenance, supplies, services and regulatory costs         £127

Fee for fuel                                                                                                    £29

Total                                                                                                               £500

So even with a relatively modest fee of £500 there is a profit. So what do Dignity (the main private crematoria operator) make from their activities, Surely they must be making a profit otherwise why would they be in business?

Their annual report for 2106 make interesting reading.

 “The Group remains the largest single operator of crematoria in Britain, operating 39 (2014:39) crematoria as at 25 December 2015. The Group performed 57,700 cremations (2014: 53,400) in the period, representing 9.8 per cent (2014: 9.7 per cent) of total estimated deaths in Britain.

Underlying operating profit was £34.6 million (2014: £29.1million), an increase of19 per cent.

This operating performance is driven by increasing average revenues per cremation, which has been assisted by the increase in the number of cremations performed in the year. Sales of memorials and other items have been strong, equating to approximately £276 per cremation compared to £262 in the previous period.

Progress and Developments

Investment of £0.1 million has been made to develop a location that was acquired from a local authority in 2012. A further £0.8 million is expected to be incurred in 2016 to complete the local authority development. The Group has also invested £2.5 million maintaining its locations in the period.

So looking at their figures they earn £1107 per cremation of which £607 is profit. Let us be clear this is profit for all their crematoria based services, so as well as the actual cremation this includes memorials, burial plots, etc. They declared that that make £276 per customer from memorial products, so if we assume they make 40% profit from these. The profit for each cremation would be around £500.

Now again this £500 isn’t profit profit, this is before loads of things have been deducted, not least wages and tax. Also the purpose of the annual report is to make thing look rosy for shareholders and investors. Nether-the-less this is significant.

In addition, I would say, private organisations generally tend to run a tighter ship than local authorities. So we can assume that local authorities running cost will be higher too. But still local authorities on the whole should be making a reasonably significant profit.

Now to the vexing question of cost of regulatory compliance. Many authorities claim their rising cost relate to the need to install more sophisticated abatement equipment to deal with their emissions.

From the BBC article, a spokesman for Northumberland County Council said “£1.8m was being invested in new air pollution control equipment to comply with increasingly stringent environmental legislation”. So there is large cost associated with environmental compliance although the article also points another spokesman who states “Because it has not yet installed the newer pollutant filters, the council must pay a £53 government-imposed levy per cremation.“ which a) is slightly concerning implying many have not yet installed this equipment and b) emission compliance cost represent less than 10% of cost.

So my conclusion is, from this limited information: there is money in cremation, not perhaps as much as some may think, but still a heck of a lot.



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cremation rising costs

Variation in cremation cost across the UK 2016

Every year crematoria are getting more expensive and there is now a big difference between the top and the bottom.

From the lowest price is from a crematoria run by the a local authority – Belfast City council, where the cost is £364 the highest is a private crematoria run by the funeral giant Dignity at Beckenham in Greater London at £956

That is almost three times the price, for what is the same process? Listed below are the possible reasons for this, some or none may be true and I doubt we shall ever find out.

  •  To recoup investestment, whether that is a development of a new facility or renovation.
  •  Higher fixed costs eg ground rent
  •  Local wages
  •  Greater number of staff
  •  Inefficient administration
  •  An authority / company has chosen to make their price comparable with neighbours
  •  Desire to maximise profit or alternatively a desire to minimise the cost to the public

The average cost in 2016 is approx £700

Some reasons above are perhaps more palatable than others. Although unsurprising nine of the ten most expensive are private and ten out ten of the most affordable are public.

However paradoxically the more remote ones (i.e. without competition) tend to be the cheapest.

I suppose a secondary but perhaps equally important question is do they represent value for money. Those using the crematoria a Beckenham may feel they got value whereas the residents of Belfast felt fleeced? Perhaps unlikely, but it is certainly true that some of the crematoria on the higher side of the average will represent better value for money e.g. nicer grounds, nicer ambience, less hurried, greater customer experience etc etc.

It is generally accepted that many Council make money from crematoria, disgusting you may think but arguably  it subsides other services like burial, you may think that they should do it at cost as you don’t want your funeral cross subsiding other activities, but that is what we elect councillor to decide. It should be noted however that some councils subsidise the cost of cremation. One interesting question is what should local authorities do – invest in better buildings and grounds causing the cost to raise or stick with many of those god awful sixties monstrous, there is a case for both side.

Is £700 reasonable for what you get? It is certainly not cheap, the problem is choice is limited if not non-existent. And now the cost of the cremation represents a high percentage of overall funeral costs. I hope this trend in rising prices stops but there seems little sign of that.


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cremation scattering ashes RoI

Cremation in the Republic of Ireland

Ireland and the UK have many similar customs. Cremation is not one of them. In fact very few people in the RoI get cremated and whilst it is on the increase it is still around 15% (compared to ~75% of us in the UK). Why? Probably a combination of belief, customs and tradition.

I found this rather interest article by Alison O’Connor: Facing up to one of life’s burning issues — cremation or burial where the author goes on an open day visit to her local crematoria, which she found entirely fascinating.

Follow the link if you wish to read the full article – it is rather good. However,I will cut to the chase and just relay the facts:

  • She dispelled the urban myths that a) more than one body is cremated together and b) the coffin does not cremated with the body
  • At the particular crematorium she visited it took 10 seconds for the coffin to ignite with the temperature rising up to a high of 1,000C.
  • The coffin burns within the first half an hour but the average cremation takes 80 minutes. In total it can be up to five hours before the process is complete, allowing the cremated remains to be cooled down, and then to be crushed, and the ashes put into the urn.
  • The remains are removed from the oven. At that point they are too hot to be further processed and are placed in a cooling cabinet before being taken to an ashes processor where they are further broken down.
  • Artificial joints etc are recovered and sent to the Netherlands for recycling with the revenue from this crematoria totalling €6,000 which went to local hospice.
  • From a practical point of view a low-grade, low-resin coffin works best for cremation. Irish coffins, however, are usually most suited for burial, and even if a cremation is planned, people could still spend up to €2,000 on a coffin.
  • Following cremation around 50% of families opt to bury the ashes in family graves, while around 33% are scattered.
  • The carbon footprint created was the equivalent of a one-way flight From Dublin to London, around 300kg of carbon.

She concludes:

“When my time comes I want to be cremated. If anything, what I saw on the tour, and the demystifying of it, confirmed that for me.

This was in stark contrast to the vast majority of people who I met before and after the crematorium tour who had great difficulty understanding why I was interested in it. “Why on earth would you want to do that?” was the standard question.

Maybe it’s a phase, or a particular stage of life I’m going through, but my own feeling was: why would I not want to do that?”

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memorialisation nottingham

A problem with personal memorialisation in Nottingham Crematoria’s communal woodland

The needs of the individual will often come into conflict with the needs many, and here is a case in point. Ms Kara Thrall scattered the ashes of her mother and grandmother in the same spot in Nottingham’s Wilford Hill Crematorium in the communal woodland.

On the 3rd anniversary of her death Ms Thrall visited the spot and was distressed to find a notice from the council saying keepsakes left must be removed or the council will need to remove them for her. This upset Mrs Thrall deeply.

She said: “I just can’t understand the problem. It was quite upsetting because to me it’s comforting to have those items there. They are unique and don’t take up much space. They are just small mementos which mean something to us.”

She went onto say “We’re not taking up much space” , “It’s not like a grave. They are only little tokens.”

In fact she and her friend Ms Dawson (who had had a similar experience) felt so aggrieved they carried out a protest in Old Market Square on in opposition to the council’s policy.

Ms Dawson said: “It’s just devastating. The council is saying they look untidy, but if you go up in person – and I go regularly – they are pretty decorations which are tasteful. They are all looked after, many of them have fresh flowers every week. I just can’t see any harm in it. I understand her [Ms Thrall’s] frustration.”

Wanting to have a place to memorialise can be so very important to many people and the anguish of not be able to express memorialisation in their way can be extremely saddening for the individual. They may even hold council responsible for the diminishing the memory of that loved one.

However in this case I must say without wish to ignore the hurt caused I feel the needs of the many trump the needs of the few, the rules were in place before Ms Thruall scattered so presumably she could have taken note of what one is allowed to do and chosen a different place to scatter where she would have been allowed to use the site in the way she wished. This woodland is communal and thus a shared space for memorialisation and if it is a shared space then it has to be suitable for the majority. Nottingham city council appear to have considered this Eddie Curry their Head of Parks and Open Space, said: “Our woodland area is for general use to scatter the cremated remains of loved ones. It is used by a great number of people and there are rules about what can and cannot be placed there, so that it can remain tidy and pleasant for all those who use it. However, some families have placed unauthorised memorials there, leading to complaints from other visitors to the cemetery.

“We are gradually and sensitively carrying out a process to remove unauthorised items, with plenty of information and staff on site to explain why this is necessary. When items are eventually removed, anything of sensitive value is bagged and retained for collection, with the only things disposed of being items such as stones, kerb edgings or fencing and related materials

“Where we have already cleared areas, there is a significant improvement to the look of the area as we are able to fully maintain it and cut the grass. Many families have understood and accepted this approach and have moved items to the new seasonal areas we have developed.”

Nottingham City Council is overhauling its management of Wilford Hill Crematorium, including its Woodland Walk and Garden of Rest areas. It is still allowing “temporary memorialisation items” but says they will be removed “once decay begins”.

The authority says its guidelines make the crematorium fit the needs of all its users and helps them keep it clean and tidy. You can lay down: flowers, cards, balloons, Christmas wreaths and floral tributes.

But grievers are not permitted to place windmills, lantern hooks, solar lights, small fences or anything that is pushed into the ground. They are also banned from leaving “large amounts of memorial items” at their loved ones’ resting places. Other “more permanent” items can be placed in four seasonal memorial beds or in the bricked troughs in the Woodland Walk and Garden of Rest.

This to me doesn’t seem unreasonable for a rule that applies to all, it is probably impossible for grieving individuals to see that their needs can’t trump everyone else’s. I am not a fan of the ‘thin end of the wedge’ type argument as it is often used to mask ulterior motives. But when there is a clearly a likelihood that the original intention (in this case a woodland walk) being impacted then there needs to be a policy. I totally understand Ms Thrall upset she can’t be expected to see that what she considers to be a small issue has larger implications it is too close and too personal.  I very much doubt she will be thinking ‘well if 500 people are scattered here a year and 50% chose to place some form of memorialisation then after 4 year there will be 1000 individual shrines, which may detract from the serenity of the woods’ she may be along the lines ‘we only want a little spot to come and reflect, this is my mum and nan for pities’ sake’

It is tough for all concerned, and whilst it may be too late for Ms Thrall, it should be incumbent upon all such site managers when arranging a scattering for a family to make crystal clear what is and isn’t permissible. Then armed with the facts the family can choose an alternative location if so desired.

Original story:

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Insurance survey scattering ashes

Survey from British insurance company on ashes preferences

There has been a survey of people ash scattering preferences and the following is the main content of a press release from insurance provider British Seniors Insurance Agency:

[They] looked into the weird and wonderful places that people want their ashes scattered once they die.  New research has revealed over half (55%) of the UK want to be cremated when they die with only 22% choosing to be buried and 20% unsure. It seems that many Britons already know exactly where they want to be laid to rest despite only 21% of them having some form of life cover in place to cover the costs of their funeral.

British Seniors Insurance Agency asked consumers where they would like their ashes scattered and the responses ranged from the very sentimental to the downright unusual. The most popular spots are: at sea; with a loved one; in a graveyard; in a favourite beauty spot; or in their garden.

One of the top places on the nation’s list were their favourite football grounds with venues up and down the country being the most popular selected resting spots including Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, the Emirates Stadium, Loftus Road, Hull City, Elland Road, Anfield, Celtic Park, Ibrox, Dorchester Town FC, Villa Park, all listed as spots where footie fans would like their ashes scattered.

And it seems that UK adults are an intrepid bunch with many wishing for their ashes to make a final journey to far-flung corners of the world with Las Vegas, the Maldives, Canada and the Ganges among popular destinations. 

However when delving into the stranger places people would like to be left, British Seniors Insurance Agency found the following:

  • Under a cannabis plant at the den project
  • Made into a firework
  • In the wash
  • In the bin
  • A haunted building
  • The Theatre stage
  • The pond of my finishing club
  • Family Vault
  • In space

Whilst this was presumably done to generate interest in their insurance company it does reinforce many issues we talk about on the site: the favourite places to be scattered; the popularity of water as a final destination; peoples obsession with football; and more anarchic options – all part of the UK’s interplay with dark humour and funerals.

There is one inescapable conclusion that seems to be overlooked – if you don’t know what you want then you are almost certainly going to be cremated (if you add the ‘would like to be cremated’ plus those ‘unsure’ you pretty much get the cremation rate in the UK)

I will ask if more info can be shared as asking 2000 people should throw up some useful information…


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coffin cremated

Do they burn the coffin when you get cremated

Do they burn the coffin when you get cremated?

The question, do coffins get cremated with the body is a frequently asked. To those in the funeral industry this often met with a surprised or bemused look, the answer is: yes, of course.

However the fact the question is asked on such a frequent basis mean that this is not universally known or understood. But why should it be? Most people prefer not to dwell on such issues, why would they?

Apparently there are certain companies in North America that will rent out one of those grand caskets, like the ones you see in the Soprano’s (these are not very common in the UK) and then after the funeral the body is transferred to a more simple coffin for the cremation.

In the UK once the coffin is sealed, that is it. The coffin, the body and anything the person is wearing (including jewellery) will be cremated.

The heat and duration of the process means that the only thing that are left are those that do not combust (burn) – bones and the metal parts e.g. metal nails from the coffin and false hips etc.

The metal parts are removed and in many British crematoria these are now recovered with the proceeds going to good causes. The remainder of the cremated remains, which is the bone matter, is reduced to a granular powder known as ashes. This is what you will receive back from the crematoria or funeral director.

Our advice. Remove jewellery from the deceased, even items such as wedding rings. Whilst you may think that they never took of in life and it should stay with them through the process, it is perhaps better that it is passed on, placed in a memory box or incorporated into another piece of jewellery. Important jewellery is link to a person life and should stay that way.

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creamtion ashes family not present

The case of the Cremation without the family knowing

This is the sad case of Mr Fitzpatrick who passed way in August. He had suffered depression for some time and it is believed he committed suicide. At the time he was living on his own, his children had left home and he was estranged from his partner, with whom we was still on good terms and would regularly visit.

When he passed away, his ex partner asked the local authority to make the arrangements, as there was no money available from the family. The local authority, in this case North Ayrshire Council,  is obliged to do this, in their words: ‘The Council can be asked to step in to arrange and pay for funerals under the National Assistance Act when there is no known next of kin or no arrangements are being made by others for the deceased’

‘As such, responsibility is relinquished to the Council and the appropriate arrangements are made in line with the legislation.

‘In such cases any interested person is entitled to inquire about times and dates, and arrangements for ashes.

‘We were contacted by a member of the public who wanted to be notified of the date of his funeral.

‘We contacted the member of public on September 9 and left a voicemail message telling her the funeral was scheduled for September 15.

So the council says they left a voicemail to inform Ms McFadyen of the date of the funeral. Ms McFadyen denies receiving the voicemail. Consequently there was no family present at Mr Fitzpatrick’s funeral. This has outraged Mrs McFadyen, who thinks North Ayrshire Council have been negligent in their duties and she has filed a complaint.

Firstly, this is all very sad and one must feel compassion for the family in their grief. Secondly, if all the council considers they are obliged to do to fulfil any moral obligation is to leave a message on an answer phone then I would suggest that that is a long way from what most of us would consider a reasonable approach.

The question is it just black and white case of who is wrong? Ms McFayden said “saying goodbye is a right everyone should have.” Which is right, but are the council the only ones culpable in this, is there any apportionment of responsibility (not blame) for the family. Funerals aren’t cheap and funeral poverty is a real issue. When it is a choice between feeding the family rather than picking up the bill for a family member’s funeral then I am sure that is a truly tough decision. It would appear that only his eighteen year old son was involved, who is unlikely to be have the means. However, when one makes the choice to relinquish the responsibility, to what extent does that mean and does one also relinquishes any ‘rights’ too? I am not suggesting that what the family choose to do was wrong or that it was an easy decision to make. What I am saying is, if that is the choice made, even if another way seems impossible, there is still some responsibility to keep matter under control as much as possible and not necessarily leave the entire onus on a council officer who may be desensitised to such situations.

Ms McFadyen comments is telling: ‘I was so angry and upset. Alan had no family there – he was all alone. Me and our son were devastated. We wanted to say goodbye and lay him to rest. It’s not like messing up an order or a purchase. You can’t cremate someone twice.’ Which is right, but legally it wasn’t her ‘order’ to mess up.

I do think it is appropriate at this point to plug the brilliant campaign from the Quakers Fair Funerals, which is promoting more affordable services so that the family can retain control.

I also hope some good will come of this and the North Ayrshire (and other councils) will take heed and understand that leaving ‘an’ answerphone message does not amount to satisfying their duty of care, and that their procedures are updated to making reasonable endeavours.

Of some relief to the family is that they were able to retrieve the ashes before they were scattered at the garden of remembrance, so hopeful they will be able have a meaningful ceremony to commemorate the life of someone they loved.

Original story was reported widely, I mainly used the one reported in the Daily Mail

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metal ashes cremation reclaim

Money raised for charities from metal reclaimed from a crematoria to top £2m

Now this is good news. The money raised for charities from the recycled metals the arise from cremation is set to reach £2m.



metal ashes cremation reclaim

When a body is cremated the non-combustible parts are left behind: the bones (the ashes) and any metal which arises. This metal was historically just the ironwork used to make the coffin such as nails, but now a large percentage comes from implants such as false hips, what is more these implants are made from expensive alloys including titanium and cobalt.

Again, historically all such remnants would have been buried within the grounds of the crematoria. However since a scheme – that originated in Holland – has been set up, this metal has been reclaimed.

The scheme met with ghoulish headlines at the start from certain parts of the media, however there was a complete turnaround in their stance once they realised that it had the support of the British public (we donate our organs for crying out loud).

Charities with a connection to the bereavement can apply to the Institute of Cemetery and Cremation Management and ask for a share of the revenue.

However not all crematoria do this, there is still a significant number that continue with the now somewhat archaic practice of burial, which to my mind, wastes precious resources and deprives charities of much needed income in a difficult climate.

So if you are a hospice or just an interested member of the public why not contact the Institute and find out whether your local crematoria participate and if they don’t, consider asking them why not…. this has to be a win win – or am I missing something?!

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crematoria opposed greece

Why is so difficult to cremate someone in Greece?


In 2006 the Greek parliament laid a law allowing cremation, yet to date no one has been cremated.

Greece suffers a problem, like many countries, their urban cemeteries are overcrowded, it is not uncommon for a body to be exhumed moved after three year to make space for someone else.

So one might think that they would be chomping at the bit to bring in cremation. But no.

It would appear there are a number of factors in play here, however the primary one appears to be the Greek Orthodox Church. The Greek church considers cremation wrong in the eyes of god and whilst it is quoted as saying: “The church does not oppose and has no right to oppose the cremation of the dead for those of other religions or other Christian denominations,” said a spokesman for the Church of Greece, Charis Konidaris “For the Orthodox people, though, it recommends burial as the only way for the decomposition of the deceased human body, according to its long traditions,” he said. (Back in 2006).

However, his view may not be held unanimously, as it would appear plans for a number of crematoria being overruled through ecclesiastical pressure.

The church in Greece still holds significant power within the country, 95% of the population subscribe to being of the Greek Orthodox faith.

I also suspect reading the articles on the subject that such things just take that bit longer in this sunny part of the world and this is just the way it is, I am not able to confirm or deny this. Although a friend from Corfu readily concurs.

It is also reported that the Church, at a local level, would be reluctant to give up a lucrative source of income. The other issue appears to be that whilst cremation may be permitted – ashes will not be allowed to be scattered on consecrated ground.

So those wishing to be cremated need to go abroad – Bulgaria and further afield – at a cost of thousands of Euros.

Apparently progress is being made, the first crematorium in Greece is planned for the city of Volos, Central Greece. Please note the word planned. So watch this space! Although you may wish to go and make a cup of tea while you do.


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local authority crematoria garden

A lady digs up her rose bush from the garden of remembrance

local authority crematoria garden (c) Conwy Daily Post

The garden of remembrance at a crematoria was once a popular choice to place the ashes of a loved one whilst it is becoming less so, there are still many who use the facility it would appear mainly for practical and connection reasons. The usually gardens are first rate, however a story reported in the Conwy Daily Post where a widow was so incensed by the state of the garden she dug up the rose bush planted at Mochdre crematorium revive it and plant it elsewhere.

The Daughter of the lady said: “I have had experience with what’s going on at the crematorium. The people responsible for the state it’s in need to be named and shamed, it’s disgraceful.

“My father was cremated in 2000 and we were asked if we wanted him scattered in this rose garden – the apricot rose garden, that’s what they said it was called.

“Well, myself and my mother thought it was a good idea and we went to a nearby nursery and bought this beautiful rose. We came back and dug a hole and planted it.

“When the pair of us returned the following June it had been hacked – not cut, hacked – down to barely a foot tall, it wasn’t being allowed to bloom.”

Mrs Barnsdale explained: “My mother went to visit and she just tore out the rose bush and put it in a plastic bag to take home. It had been 13 years and it was looking more and more sickly and weak.

“She’s a gardener herself and she’s trying to rescue it, she keeps telling me how sickly it is, years of hacking away at this rose, planted where we scattered my father, have very nearly killed it.”

She added: “My mother wishes now she hadn’t scattered my father there. She wasn’t given adequate support, it was just, ‘scatter your ashes here’. There were no options for her. She regrets it so much now.”

Now that is sad story, and the councils response was splendidly bland – “We have a gardener at the crematorium and the memorial rose garden is maintained on a regular basis.

“The Cabinet Member has been made aware of these concerns and will discuss the matter with the service.”

Now I like gardening although I have to say I am not that good at it, but looking at the pictures it doesn’t look great, I know roses bushes need cutting back, but if the lady is a gardener and she has watched the bush over the years decline in health then her view must be respected. Local Authorities create an income form these services so they need to be top class – they are so important for their community real care must be taken.

Like many she expresses the feeling she was not properly supported on what options there were for her when deciding what to do with her late husband’s ashes. Hopefully this is changing. 

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england australia ashes trophy cricket

The Orgins of the Ashes cricket contest – a protest for cremation

As one of the world greatest sporting contest draws to a close and England retain the precious little trophy, spare a thought for where this tiddler came from and what was the symbolism.

The story starts in 1882, at the Oval cricket ground in London, when England cricketers managed to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory and the following day in the press was an obituary of English cricket penned by a Mr Reginald Brooks appeared in the Sporting Times and said ‘[that] the body would be cremated and the ashes sent to Australia.’

Then the following year England vowed to bring those ‘ashes’ back again. England won the competition and the captain was presented with this  tongue-in-cheek  trophy …and so began the legendary series.

But the reference to cremation was not as abstract as it may seem, at the time cremation was not practised in the UK, it was illegal. However there was a growing and powerful movement behind it one of those involved was was none less than the surgeon Sir Henry Thompson who happened to be Queen Victoria’s own physician. And he published a paper on the subject arguing that cremation was a sensible way forward due to hygiene, land space and it could make a good fertiliser!

Now the chap who wrote those ‘immortal’ words was the son of one of those original cremation campaign, the father a Mr Shirley Brooks (editor of the satirical and influential Punch publication) and founding member of the Cremation Society of England.

Sadly Mr Brooks (Snr) passed before his campaign had reached fruition. But campaign did not diminish and continued to grow in strength. Then in 1882 in the news at the time of the Australian cricket team visit was  a story running in the press the story of a Captain Hanham who had  requested the Society’s help in cremating two members of his family, the Home Secretary refused to give consent, prompting Brooks Jnr to pick up his pen…

And so there we have it how Reginald Brooks unwittingly entered the history books, not through and random or abstract comment but through a promotion of a cause, dear to his fathers heart and which did actually come to pass some 28 years after the society’s beginning

I found the original lead for this story here:

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stonehenge crematoria

Stonehenge ancient cremation ashes burial site

stonehenge crematoria

The wonderful and enigmatic Stonehenge. One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world. And guess what? It was a crematoria – It’s official.

Well sort of, but it was certainly a post cremation grave for the ashes of VIPs, forensic archaeologists have been examining more than 50,000 cremated bone fragments, from 63 individuals buried at Stonehenge, whether the ashes where produced there or just buried there article does not reveal.

However what we can tell is the carbon dating indicates that the earliest burials long predate the monument in its current form, when there was only one circle (which is the inner circle now). And the Dating the bones has pushed back the date of earliest stone circle at the site from 2500BC to 3000BC. What is also apparent for the first time is that where it was thought just men ashes were buried there the analysis shows the remains include almost equal numbers of men and women, and children including a baby.

“At the moment the answer is no to extracting DNA, which might tell us more about these individuals and what the relationship was between them – but who knows in the future? Clearly these were special people in some way,” Parker Pearson (Professor who leads the team) said.

Mike Pitts, an archaeologist, blogger and editor of the British Archaeology journal, who has excavated some of the cremated human remains from Stonehenge, says the cremation burial theory shows more work is needed “I have now come to believe that there are hundreds, maybe many times that, of burials at Stonehenge, and that some predate the earliest phase of the monument,” Pitts said. “The whole history of the monument is inseparably linked to death and burial – but I believe that there are hundreds more burials to be found across the site, which will tell us more of the story.”

Almost all the prehistoric human remains come from the eastern side of the circle, and many had been excavated by earlier archaeologists including William Hawley in the 1920s, who regarding them as unimportant compared with the giant stones, reburied them jumbled together using one of the Aubrey holes as a convenient pit.

“There must be more, in the western quadrant, or buried outside the enclosure ditch. A new excavation could clinch it,” Pitts said.

I will keep you updated as more information come to light.

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crematoria getting rid of unwanted ashes

The Statutory Duty of English and Welsh Cremation Authorities in relation to the Disposal of Ashes

crematoria getting rid of unwanted ashes

This is a direct lift from the appropriate legislation including instrument number and revoked legislation, it is actually quite clear:

(c) HM Government

The Cremation (England and Wales) Regulations 2008 SI No. 2841

Came into force   1st January 2009


Disposal of ashes

30.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2), after a cremation the cremation authority must give the ashes to the applicant or a person nominated for that purpose by the applicant.

(2) If the applicant does not want to be given the ashes and has not nominated any person for that purpose, the cremation authority must retain the ashes.

(3) Subject to any special arrangement for the burial or preservation of ashes, any ashes retained by a cremation authority must be decently interred in a burial ground or in part of a crematorium reserved for the burial of ashes, or scattered there.

(4) In relation to ashes left temporarily in the care of a cremation authority, the authority may not inter or scatter the ashes unless 14 days notice of their intention to do so has been given to the applicant.


Instruments revoked Reference
Regulations, dated 28th
 October 1930, made by the Secretary of
State under section 7 of the Cremation Act 1902 and section 10 of
the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1926
The Cremation Regulations 1952 S.I. 1952/1568
The Cremation Regulations 1965 S.I. 1965/1146
The Cremation Regulations 1979 S.I. 1979/1138
The Cremation (Amendment) Regulations 1985 S.I. 1985/153
The Cremation (Amendment) Regulations 2000 S.I. 2000/58
The Cremation (Amendment) Regulations 2006 S.I. 2006/92
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law cremation nigera

New law set to allow cremation in Lagos State, Nigeria


Now this doesn’t sound all that controversial right? I mean they have crematoria in the Gulf States, so it is no big deal right? Wrong.

The following is based on a an article on the All Africa website I have provided a link at the bottom.

In Nigeria, Lagos State will be the first state to enact a  law in support of cremation and it would appear it is the elected representatives pushing for this change in funeral practises. The Governor Mr Babatunde Fashola said: “The law tells a story of the full consciousness of how global our state has become. People migrate here, build homes here, and set up businesses here.

“And if some people think, cremation is the best way to do what they want to do, I think, we should also as a global city, I think we should provide that choice as it is done in all other global cities of the world,” – So that is one in favour, and I have never heard of globalisation being used as a rationale before . However I suspect it may have something to do with land take and costs as well, but that is just me.

It is voluntary you will be happy to know, apart for corpses that remain unknown / uncollected, unclaimed deceased persons maybe cremated by the State, it is this aspect that has got people a little cross.

Historically, Nigerians have favoured burial because of religious leanings that are between Islam and Christianity.

Neither religious group is particularly in favour: According a report, Director, Muslims Rights Concern, Prof. Ishaq Lakin Akintola insisted that the law is against the Islamic injunctions, which espouses respect for the dead. He also claimed that it as well ran foul of the African culture and tradition.

He was quoted as saying: “We are not Buddhists in this country. In Islam, when a man dies, we buried him decently. The law will not only affect us but the Christians too and it is not in our culture. A Muslim who dies must have treatment and when you cremate, nobody will ask for forgiveness for him.

“The law is not likely to catch Muslims because of the way Muslims treat their corpses. Those to be cremated must be taken from the mortuary. My advice to Lagosians is that when their loved ones are missing, they should search for them diligently at police stations, mortuaries and other places before they are cremated as unclaimed corpses,” he said.

It would appear the Methodists aren’t particularly in favour either, I like this chap – great quote! Dr. Ola Makinde (Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria), “The law is against our culture and tradition. Everybody has a choice of burial. My children cannot cremate me and nobody can compel me to be cremated. Cremation is English culture and it is not in the Bible. It is a type of culture where people write their will to be cremated when they died.

“I pity Lagosians, the government should think twice; they should pass laws that people will obey and we should not copy the white people foolishly,” he stated. Considering he is a learned man and a man of the cloth – I am not sure he has got that bit quite right?!

However one local funeral director said: We have been doing cremation in Nigeria for a long time, mostly for foreigners such as the Chinese, Indians and Koreans. The Asians like cremation more than the traditional burial. From our experience I can also say that Indians prefer the local way which is with wood than other mode of cremation.

We have our local cremation centre at Iju and the incinerator kind of cremation at Ojodu Berger. So cremation is not alien to Nigeria. It’s something we have been doing for a very long time.” Although he did not agree with the Government’s thinking on this being a suitable disposal route for unclaimed bodies.

Finally I will leave you with a paragraph from author at the start of the article which I think articulates just how alien cremation is to African culture.

It’s hard to imagine now, but soon those who live in Lagos would become accustomed to a new way of burying the dead. There will be piles of ashes dotting around as families get into the act of scattering ashes of dead relatives and pets in places they enjoyed as being done in the west.



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cremation packaging

How should Cremation Authorities pack and dispatch ashes after cremation

standard urn received from crematorium

What should Crematoria do and what should you expect? The following is based on a Best practise briefing produced by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (UK), I have provided a link at the bottom to the actual guidance.

In essence their primary responsibility is to ensure you receive the ashes safely and in a condition which will not cause distress or embarrassment.

All ashes must be removed from the cremator and the remains, once cool and treated, should be sealed inside a robust polythene bag which in turn is placed inside a suitable outer container.

This container is then labelled with:

  • the name of the deceased,
  • cremation number; and
  • the name of the Crematorium.

The following may answer the fact that the urn you receive back from the crematoria tend to be rather ugly plastic utilitarian items (well, the following reasons and the cost that is)

The container should be:

  • strong enough to resist breakage in transit
  • simple in design;
  • Adequate volume to hold the ashes, the recommended minimum capacity for a cremation urn is 3.28ltrs (200 cubic inches).
  • A tight fitting lid strong enough not come open inadvertently

The cremation urn should be wrapped, protected and placed within a double-strength cardboard box which wrapped in a sheet of strong brown paper, sealed with an adhesive tape. The parcel must be clearly and correctly labelled.

A secure courier service should be used if the ashes are not collected in person. A letter should be sent to the intended recipient on the same day as the despatch telling them to expect delivery. When ashes are to be interred or scattered in a Churchyard Burial Ground, Cemetery or Garden of Remembrance, an appropriate certificate should be issued by the Cremation Authority and forwarded with the letter.

The Cremation Authority should acquire a receipt whenever ashes are removed from the Crematorium. And likewise if ashes are sent by courier proof of receipt should be obtained -it is advisable for Cremation Authorities to issue a form for this purpose for completion and return by the recipient.

All looks sensible and well considered to me, one thing I think they should do is put the name and address on the person who will be receiving the ashes on each layer, as it may prevent the tiny percentage of irresponsible people from throwing the box and container away at the scattering site. Oh yes and it still shame we get the ashes back in those those dreadful Polyurns.

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cremation ashes in a typical columbrium

Keeping ashes in a Columbarium: what are they, why use them and what do they cost.


A columbarium is a wall with cavities designed to hold cremation urns or cinerary urns. Have look at the picture above, they are usually made of stone such as granite and each niche can hold a number of cremation urns (up to about 4). The niche faceplate usually has an inscription engraved upon it.

These are quite popular in the Europe and US but not so in UK, so:

  • Where do they originate?
  • Why do people use them?
  • What do they cost?

The name comes from the Latin for Dove as the niche resembles a dovecote where doves build their nest. It has gone on to mean a sepulchre for urns. They date as far back as Roman times (eg Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas) and maybe even further.

They are more popular in continental Europe, which is presumably how the custom migrated to the States.  As to why they have not really been more popular in the UK may be to do with how the dead are memorialised in more Catholic areas of continental Europe, there is more likelihood of a mausoleum based interring i.e. placement above the ground rather than burial.

There are some examples in the UK, most notably the Dukes and Duchesses of Buckinghamshire. They constructed a family Columbarium in Wotton in Buckinghamshire which appears to ape fashions from the continent and may relate to the change in the royal lineage as the Hanoverians had become the new dynasty, the percentage of people in the UK at the time being cremated was very small indeed.

But what psychological need do they fulfil that burying, keeping or scattering ashes does not (or at least not to the same extent).

Well I suppose it might be a case of continuing traditions; ‘my mum and dad are in one, so what is good enough for them is good enough for me’.  Maybe it is for people who believe ashes should be in a place that is specifically designed for the purpose, or that the deceased should be kept with others who have departed, a necropolis if you will. If that is the case it might make more sense than burying ashes.

Historically burying was ‘necessary’ if you don’t opt to cremate, but there is no need for ashes to be buried. You may feel you wish to keep the ashes at the cemetery or church and not want to scatter them in the garden of remembrance, thus a columbarium is a great choice. Placing the urn in a wall or columbarium means you can visit, connect directly with them, more like visiting a grave.

Perhaps we should have this as an option more widely available in the UK; after all we are big fans of bronze plaques at crematoria as a focal point of memorialisation. According to the Co-op’s survey 1 in 20 chose the crematoria as the last resting place, personally I think this figure seems a bit low, maybe this is likely in the future, but currently from our research I would think it was more likely around 1 in 10. Interestingly it would appear that there may be a very slight increase in their use, not so much at the crematoria but some churches like the idea that these could provide a good option particularly where space is limited, and also as an income stream.

So to the cost, they are not cheap. I can’t say my research is massively in-depth, but I did look at a number of columbarium in a range of locations and what I can say is that, as with most things, cost has a lot to do with location: inside a fine old church in London with a lot of history – pricey, outside in the grounds of a crematoria in Northern England not as pricey (but still not cheap).

Do be aware that absolutely everything has a price; the inscription, the vault opening and so on. A rough estimate of set up costs is around £400- £500 (although there big variance here). Nearly all options are on a lease basis, so you have the ongoing annual cost, not insignificant either.  From Fleetwood in Lancashire where the price is about £15 per year to £150 per year in St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, London.

For more information on Columbarium

Despite the cost, the more I read about them the more I quite like them; I can see that they have a role particularly for a couple where one has departed first or maybe for children who are waiting to decide what to do with the ashes of their parents. They are not a permanent solution for most of us, due to leasing arrangement. However they certainly seem better than a brass plaque (which I personally don’t understand).

Perhaps we need to come up with a more considered or up-to-date version of a columbarium. How about one for those in the trade union movement in the style of those wonderfully symbolical early banners, or maybe for more creative souls a moving one like kinetic art so you become part of an installation … the next Turner Prize? Maybe one carved out of living rock (as a once-upon-a-time geologist I prefer in-situ rock) like a cliff face. I certainly think that parish churches could consider getting a local artist or sculptor to make one, that way they could save space and create an income stream… Ummmm what a world of possibilities there is for the modern columbarium!

ashes kept collumbarium

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cost of crematoria

The cost of cremation in the UK

cost of crematoria
The Downs Crematoria Brighton

We have had a look at the Cremation Society of Great Britain figures for the cost of cremation in the United Kingdom, are the headlines.

Countries in the UK in order of cost: Most expensive England; Scotland; Wales with the least expensive being Northern Ireland.

In England there is unsurprisingly a rough north south divide with the Home Counties being the most expensive, although the trend is has plenty of exceptions with Tyne and Wear being quite expensive whereas Brighton is cheapest in England.

The most expensive crematoria in the UK is in Scotland, Dundee charging £735 for the total cremation fee (The total crematorium charges include the following services: use of chapel, waiting rooms and all attendances, floral decoration, music (recorded or organ), scattering/strewing of ashes, Medical Referee’s Fee and environmental surcharge is applicable.). The least expensive is Belfast at £328 which is way less than anywhere less (worrying, heavily subsidised or?), after this the Downs crematoria Brighton which is £410, odd when Chichester ‘next door’ is £725.

The average cost of a cremation in 2012 was £584 a rise of 7% (or about £40) on the previous year. However the variation is inconsistent with many crematoria not increasing prices at all, and considering fuel is a proportion of their cost they effectively are losing money compared to the previous year, which given the pressure on authorities to cut cost seems surprising. There are two that buck the trend are Honor Oak in London upping fees by £172, but the real outlier is Barrow in Furness that increased its fees from £359 to £670! Again without a rationale attached it would be irresponsible to judge as it may be as a result of large capital costs such as abatement equipment which had to be met from the Department’s budget.

In some local authorities there were very wide variations for example Hertfordshire has two crematoria one charging £500 while the other is £730. The most expensive authority appears to be Oxfordshire with neither of their crematoria dipping below £700. The cheapest authority appears to be Nottinghamshire apart from decadents of Robin Hood as the Sherwood Forest crematoria is markedly more expensive than the others.

Now one of my next jobs is to map which of these are private facilities. But what I can’t do with this data is express it in terms of Value for Money, as whilst I am guessing that the private facilities are likely to charge more I would not like to suggest that there is profiteering going on. In fact it could be possible that you would get nicer experience in nicer surroundings. It is likely however a percentage of the fees will be as a result of payback on investment for the facility, although interestingly the three new facilities: Stourport, Melrose and Barry have priced themselves on the average or only slightly more (to get a foothold may be?). As for those existing facilities being outsourced to private companies, then that would need detailed investigation and at present I would not like to comment.

If you have any experience of crematoria in terms of value for money, quality of service and price – let us know

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What happened to the ashes of antenatal or neonatal deaths in Scotland

Following the Mortonhall baby scandal, The Herald Scotland looked into the practice of authorities, the results have been set out below, along with a link to the original article.
Accurate at the time of publishing (Mar 2013)

Authority / Crematoria Comment and or policy

Glasgow City Council / “It was often not possible to collect ashes.”

South Ayrshire Council / “We ensure ashes from cremations are carefully recovered and make sure parental wishes are respected.”

Argyll and Bute Council / “The matter would always be discussed sensitively. If an infant is cremated, there are often no ashes or a very small amount, depending on age and circumstances. “We take steps to ensure that funeral directors are made aware of this at the time of booking, and can explain this sensitively to parents. Families are given the option of taking remains away themselves in a baby urn, or having them scattered in the Garden of Remembrance.”

Fife Council / “Remains would be offered.In line with national guidance, we advise parents on most occasions with a cremation of this nature there won’t be any remains because a skeleton isn’t formed until late in a baby’s development.”

Aberdeen City Council / Our staff will advise parents or guardians that if there are remains we will advise them so they can scatter or bury them as they wish. “We would stress it is unlikely there would be remains in the first place. We are not aware of any occasions where we have scattered or buried remains without liaising with the family.”

Highland Council / Gives families the option of having the ashes returned or scattered by staff.

West Dunbartonshire / Cremates every baby individually, collecting any ashes and, if requested, returns them.

Perth Council / Return ashes

Kinross Council / Return ashes
Falkirk Council – Return ashes

Dignity UK, which operates four crematoriums, in Dundee, Ayrshire, Moray and Holytown / “There may be times when there are no cremated remains but we would always inform the family and the funeral director of this.”

These results were taken from a survey carried out by the Herald Scotland by senior news report Brian Donnelly.

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crematoria selling memorial products

Crematoria sending memorial product brochures to grieving families – is that okay?


This article was from the Buckingham Today website concerning the practice of crematoria ‘up-selling’ to people who have used their services.

A couple received marketing literature from the crematoria operator a few days after the service for the man’s brother, they we appalled by this and told the newspaper so. They said they didn’t ask for it, or want it and it was “horrid”.

Basically, the crematoria send out brochures of products to their clients that they think the client may find comforting e.g. memorial jewellery and such like. I am lead to believe this practice generally applies only to privately operated crematoria.

It is true that a lot of people aren’t aware of the products out there and that some would welcome the information. However is it right to market in this way?

Is this approach rather cynical and indiscreet? It is I would think unlikely that the family had ticked the box saying ‘send me the bumph’. Dignity who operate the Northampton crematoria, near the village of Milton Malsor, are in the business of making money; they are a company like others and exist to make a profit; they have list of people who may wish to purchase – so is it that bad?

There was a couple of interesting quotes, the first from the aggrieved lady “It’s just the commercialisation of death which we find most distasteful, but it also seems a macabre way to remember someone.” Which makes two separate points, first fair enough, but the second is taste issue.

Then there is this part of the statement from Dignity  “Their details were ‘not passed on without their permission’ – we require them to administer the cremation and the leaflet is posted to all people who choose to take the cremated remains away with them.”

It is good that they don’t pass the details on, it seems they have to write to the client anyway and the marketing literature is popped in with the documentation. Although should they seek this opportunity to sell? Any opinions most welcome…..





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intering weekend cost

Austerity measures impacting grieving families: Scottish crematoria shutting on a Saturday and Sunday

intering weekend cost

The article below from the Perthshire Advertiser whilst seemingly local, throws up some very interesting questions around bereavement services, their cost and availability.

Perth Council have decided to retain ownership of their crematoria. A move welcomed by local funeral directors on the grounds that it will keep costs down for families.

However, they have chosen to close the facility on Saturday and Sunday to reduce overtime payments and thus reduce overall costs. This means families will not be able to inter ashes, scatter ashes or look at the book of remembrance. The Council is also raising the cost of a cremation from £500 to £600 to cover mercury abatement equipment.

The funeral directors are cross, they argue that these facilities provide a net profit to the council and as such the needs of those paying for the service should be met first before any surplus is handed back. In this particular case they see the council gaining additional monies at the expenses of grieving families; this is a fair enough point of view.

The council would see it that if they can achieve additional revenue from their assets with a small reduction in service then this will mean they will not need cut services elsewhere, I suppose in harsh terms this saving could help pay for a support worker for an elderly resident, they would see it that this is their asset and they should balance budgets holistically – again a fair point.

You can see both points of view, and in addition it is pleasing that the Council appear to have taken positive stance to keep bereavement services in-house when they could have probably plugged funding gaps through divestment.

What I don’t get, is that this seems a very one dimensional approach to solving the problem. There will be a genuine need for family to have access on at least one weekend day, due to travelling as some peoples jobs are inflexible.  And according to the funeral director the families know and understand this may require additional expense.

What is to stop the council running a Tuesday to Saturday service, amend contracts to run those five days of the week and use and uplift from a Saturday cremation payments to offset the inconvenience to working patterns? This would satisfy the demand from customers and mean those inconvenienced were compensated. It is not as is the staff weren’t used to working at the weekend.

I know Local Authorities are in an invidious position addressing the needs of customer with that of the workforce, here they appear to favour the workforce, but I am not sure that is right, as with all things a balance needs to be struck and local authorities can on occasion for guilty of thinking in a very linear way when trying to solving real needs. Perhaps I am being a little harsh as I have scant facts, but sure isn’t beyond the wit of man, is it?

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ashes Germany cremation holland

Cremation Tourism: Germans travel Holland to avoid cost and red tape!


The thing about cremation is that it is not the end of the journey; it would appear that people don’t consider the crematoria to be the final resting place. Why would you need a connection with where you are cremated – it is the cremation ashes and where they reside that represents us.

So a phenomenon has occurred in Germany where people are being cremated in Holland then their ashes are being transported back again. This is on the increase for a number of reasons; the Dutch don’t charge anywhere near as much as the Germans for cremation; the laws on the scattering of ash are more relaxed; and the deceased is cremated on the same day and not stored.

Something to point out here – the Germans are very practical about death – 65 year olds hopping on a coach to visit a future crematoria, brilliant you have to admire those Germans! Although this approach is perhaps not for British sensibilities I think.

The article also draws out a number of interesting points and distinctions between cultures. The three that fascinated me the most:

‘Crematorium manager Erik Heuberger is standing at the door waiting to greet the group on its arrival. The perma-tanned man with red-rimmed spectacles greets each pensioner with a firm handshake’ Interesting how he is described a cross between Christopher Biggins and David Dickinson, yet is Holland , a little eccentric perhaps nothing more.

The crematorium’s interior is bright with a multi-coloured carpet and walls adorned with paintings of water lilies and other abstract images. ‘We have nothing like this in Germany,’ says Friedrich. Half of me is thinking abstract art in a crematoria – oh dear! And the other half brightness and colour that would be a positive change.

‘Friedrich [the trip co-ordinator] organizes the transportation of the body to Holland while the pensioners can select what type of urn they want in advance. ‘This one is particularly nice,’ says Niesel during his visit to the crematorium’s urn room. ‘I could imagine myself feeling right at home in it,’ he jokes. Like surreal trip to the opticians ‘And how do these glasses suit you Sir..?..!‘. Apart from the oddness it seems as if scattering is not so common?

And on practical grounds this point was interesting -Heuberger explains that the urn has to remain in Holland for at least 30 days but after that relatives are free to do what they want with a deceased’s ashes.

If you find this interesting I would urge to read the article –

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cremation metal from ashes

What happens to all the metal recovered from a cremated ashes?


cremation metal from ashes

Well I think this is a good news story, the answer is it is recovered and recycled. In fact it raises a heck of a lot of money for charity!

It turns out that Institute of Cemetery and Crematoria Management have got about 130 crematoria signed up to a scheme which recovers metal from crematoria, this equates to about half those operating in the UK.

An individual can opt opt out, although why you would wish to is beyond me. Tim Morris from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management said ‘that in his experience, only two families had ever asked for the metal left over from their loved one’s cremation to be returned to them.

The first was a Sikh family who wanted to reclaim the metal from a ceremonial dagger and the second was a family who quickly sent it back.’

Since the programme has started a total of 10 metric tonnes has been separated from the ashes. Of this 3.5 metric tonnes has come from medical implants and 5.6 metric tonnes from screws and nails from the coffin. The remaining 0.2 metric tonnes is from other debris and dust. The metal has been quoted as having a value of about £12.50 per kilogram, and the latest round of collections earned £125,000 for fifteen charities in Wales, England and Scotland. All the charities are somehow related to death and its aftermath.

One question, well perhaps maybe two, the article said  – “Previously, any metal left in the cremation ash was buried with the ash in gardens of remembrance” – Really? is that what happens to it, all that metal is buried at crematoria gardens of remembrance? In Japan there seems to be a rather lucrative trade in reclaiming precious metals particularly the gold from fillings. Perhaps they have a special garden of remembrance tucked out the way rather than digging up the visible one every day. The second what do the crematoria who haven’t signed up do with it? Does everything get buried?

Nevertheless it is a good idea and should be applauded.



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cremation land ashes

A mother fears about crematorium land being sold off

cremation land ashes

A grieving mother who lost her quadruplets, they died after a premature birth, choose to have the ashes scattered at Bretby Crematorium, she has since discovered that the site may be sold off to a private company – Midlands Co-op

Mrs Morley from the town of Burton-upon-Trent in the East Midlands has spoken out about her fears that new owners of the crematorium (currently owned jointly by East Staffordshire Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council) could restrict her access. The Local Authority have reassured her that this is not the case.

Whilst it seems unlikely that the Co-op would restrict access – it does raise a few interesting points. When land moves from public to private ownership it does lessen the public’s rights, no matter what caveats may be put in place at the start.

The Local Authority also perhaps failed to communicate with their community on this matter. This is such the most sensitive of ownership issues surely the the Authority were not so ham fisted they failed to explain and engage? Well if they did it hasn’t worked that well!

It also raises the whole security around where we scatter ashes, what the academics term the environment of memory, that special place where we choose to remember someone – it is utterly sacrosanct  in our hearts. However, the decision as where to place the ashes is often done in extreme stress and can’t be undone. People need to choose land that can’t be disturbed or developed or maybe water where you are trying to achieve complete connection. Should more help and advice be given to people about where they carry out this solemn act?

Personally I am not a fan of Gardens of Remembrance, although the sense of security of the land is one appeal – so when even this is brought into question you can understand it can be very distressing for all those who have scattered their loved ones ashes there.

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