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Gazette Article

 Gazette Article

Recently I was in the local newspaper, the Gazette, where an article had been written about Roseberry Funeral Service and myself. I really want to thank David Robson, the person who got in contact with me, interviewed me and then wrote a lovely article. The article, along with other things, went into why I got into the funeral industry, my background experience and what I think makes for a good funeral.

It has obviously been a much read article as everywhere I go people are commenting that they read the article or recognise me from it. This really is something special, that people would take the time to read this. The article was also widely spread through social media including Facebook and Twitter. Going from the Gazette website it was shared a total of 337 times. Thank you everyone for your involvement within this. It really does mean a great deal to me.

Click HERE to read the article.

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Technology and the Funeral Service

Technology and the Funeral Service


With the increased technology that we have all around us I have been looking at the different ways that this effects a funeral service. There are some good and some that could be considered bad. I guess that depends on you.


  • Finding a funeral director i.e. Google – There are many people that know who their funeral director, or at least the company, will be. They have been there on the high street, part of their Church or other organisation or a tradition within the family. For others they do not know where to turn. There is the option to go with a national company but many these days want the personal service of an independent funeral director. Thanks to technology the search for a funeral director has been made easier by most having websites, social media, advertisements online even their own apps. These also give you an insight into what the funeral directors is like.


  • Communication methods – For many years that has of course been the telephone, fax, letter and face to face. With the increase in technology the ways in which you can communicate with your funeral director, other people involved or even to share ideas with family has been increased. It has now been known that funeral arrangements have taken place via Skype, an online video-link. I am by no means saying that this is for everyone, but for people out of the area who want to make arrangements, as an example, this opens up the door.



  • Record funeral services or webcasting – Many families can now be long distances away from each other. My own family has been spread out from the North East, London to Somerset. I also know of any people that have immigrated to other countries. It is in times like this, when someone passes away, that distance can be a big problem. That is when the service of having the service recorded or even streamed live over the internet can help people to still share, grieve and be a part of the loss that you are all feeling. Thanks to the increase in technology this is now possible.


  •  Music ie Wesley system – Music is a very big part of any funeral service and is a way of depicting your emotions, the personality of the deceased and a way to set the mood. In recent years there have been many changes to the way that music can be played at most crematoriums. There is a company called “Wesley Media” that provides an online library database for most crematoriums across the UK. This now means that music can be ordered online, through your funeral director, and the music is there ready for the day of the service. Long gone are the days when you would have to source your own CDs, label them up and hope that they play the right track. It has also helped people locate tracks that are less well known or could be diverse.


  • Funeral selfie – the most famous of these is where Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Danish prime minister), at Nelson Mandelas memorial service, took a selfie. This act went viral and there are many responses to this. Looking into this more there is a craze to take selfies at some part of the funeral service. As a positive you could say that this is someone who is expressing their emotions in a way that they know, celebrating rather than commiserating or you could say it is in very bad taste. There have been website that have dedicated themselves to the funeral service or #Funeralselfie. Good or bad, that is for you to decide.


  • Online memorials – These create a place where you can commemorate the deceased and a place where people can post their own thoughts and memories. Being online it can be accessed by all. The online troll (a person that wants to cause offence or harass) is something that has been reported on within this industry but many others. There are always improvements being made and security is getting stronger. If anyone was to post anything on my website, for instance onto a funeral diary post, then I would need to approve the post. That stops the troll problem full stop.


With technology ever growing this is only a short list of the ways it has changed the jobs we do and the service that I can provide. Even in the choice of funeral service, i.e. burial and cremation, technology is already looking to add another alternative. Whether these are good or bad, this if only for you to decide.

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New Years Bucket List

New Years Bucket List

It is the beginning of 2015 and people all around us have made New Years resolutions. A new idea that is starting to come about, taken from the famous bucket list, is a list of things to do in the New Year. This is something that I myself have taken up and have a list of 46 things big and small, that I would like to complete. Some things are a one off and others are weekly or monthly. I have looked to make changes to my life and this includes getting out and about more, seeing the beautiful sights of the North East, getting fitter, getting jobs and DIY tasks completed and being more charitable. I know of others that will write a list of 100 things, but as this was my first year I simple write down everything that I wanted to, or felt I should.

Of course, as stated, this was taken from the idea of a bucket list. This is usually a list of places or activities that you want to do before you die. Even if it isn’t formally written down I know of many people that have their own version of this list. These lists are there to encourage you to live your life, see the sights and smells of the world and to enjoy all that you can. Life is short and it is important to live your life to its fullest and to remember what is important. That is a big reason why I have decided to do my own 2015 list. Death is something that cannot be avoided, death and taxes as the saying goes. The people that I know to have written their own bucket list, or New Years list, you can get a feeling of what is important to them. This is spending quality time with the people that they love most. In this day and age of all things technology it may be a case of stripping this back and getting that personal touch back. For instance, one of mine is to make and write thank you cards for all gifts that I receive. I don’t want to send someone an email, I want to personally make that card, have it individual to that person, and write a heartfelt thank you. It is these touches that mean the most to people. I am looking to be more creative this year and that is also why every month there will be a new window display and many of the items will be hand made by myself.

If you haven’t thought of your own bucket list or made a New Years resolution it’s not too late. Think about what is important to you and make sure you do it. Be more giving, spend more time with family, spend time on yourself for once, make plans and live your life.

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Personalised Funeral Service – Part 2

Personalised Funeral Service

A personalised funeral service can be done in many different ways and at Roseberry Funeral Service we aim to offer you that personalised service that you and your loved ones deserve. This is the second of two parts looking at the ways that this can be achieved.

Coffin choice – Selecting the coffin can be one of the hardest parts of a funeral arrangement. It is such a personal choice and with whatever coffin or casket you choose, will represent the person for whom it is intended. There are many styles, types and materials that will enable you to make it personal. Wood types can differ greatly from oak, elm, mahogany, maple and cherry all from light to dark. There are many different styles and ornaments that can be added to personalise the coffin as well as the interior linings colour.
Apart from a traditional coffin there is now a much greater selection of coffins. Bamboo, banana leaf, Seagrass, Willow are all a natural alternative. These types are very popular for a natural or woodland burial but are not restricted to these.
For others that are looking for something a little different then there are the soft wool coffins, the eco-friendly cardboard coffins and the endless choice of the reflections range. Within the reflections range the exterior of the coffin can have on any design of your choosing. There are set designs to choose from but if you were looking for something in particular to adorn the coffin then this would be a very good choice.
Caskets are traditionally, and only recommended, for burials. There is a wide range of caskets to choose from for every style and to suit all individuals.

Burial site – When looking at burials there are four main areas to consider:
• Church yard – Many church yards are now full but it is worth discussing this with the local minister
• Cemetery – These can be run through the council or by a private firm.
• Woodland/natural – Most are run through private firms and offer a range. There are restrictions within the woodland and natural burial sites.
• At sea – Around 50 people each year are buried at sea. There are three places within the UK that allow this but there are restrictions that apply.
When considering the burial plot of yourself if pre-purchasing, or for a loved one on their passing, think about the person, having somewhere to visit, the memorial and the cost.
If the deceased did not want to be buried then there is always the option for cremation and then burial of ashes at any one of the burial sites listed above. These are just some of the burial sites for ashes that can be considered.

Committal first – One aspect of a funeral service that has started to change is the committal part of the service. This is where the deceased is committed to be buried or cremated. Increasingly people are opting for the committal to take place first and then the service side to be carried out at Church or place of worship. There are benefits and negatives to this that need to be considered and discussed with everyone involved.
For anyone considering this I would always recommend that they make it understood to everyone that the coffin will not be at the service. A newspaper announcement is the perfect opportunity to do this.

Symbolic releases – There are many ways to symbolise the life of someone at the service and can be a very poignant moment in the proceedings. The releasing of doves, balloons and Chinese lanterns can create a very special moment and also helps to involve others within the funeral service.

Get clubs involved – If they were a member of a club or organisation then why not ask them to be involved. I have seen this on many occasions and it is always heart-warming and very special to see. Personally I have seen tributes from organisations such as the British Legion, Scouts even a marching band.

Online memorials – There are many free online memorial website and your funeral director should be able to help you with this. At Roseberry Funeral Service we have a partnership with MuchLoved. With an online memorial, which can be set up before or after the funeral, this gives a place to show who that person was, to give details about their life, to light a candle in their honour, and for others to leave messages and write their own memories.

It’s a hard subject to discuss, but I thoroughly recommend that you all discuss with your loved ones the kind of service that you would like, including all the personal touches that would do you proud.

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Personalised Funeral Service – Part 1

Personalised Funeral Service

As I look back at the funerals that I have conducted and been involved in I can see there is a strong move towards having a personalised funeral service. This doesn’t mean going to the extreme for every funeral but it could just be adding a touch of what the person was about. This is the first part of a two that look at the personal touches and differences that can be made to a funeral service. I hope that this will give you some ideas to consider and get you talking to your loved ones about what you would want.

Here are some ways to add a touch of personality into the funeral service. Please remember, never be scared to ask for something that means a lot to you or to the loved one that you are celebrating.

Transport – There is now such a wide range of funeral vehicles that could be used the choice is endless. These are very personal and not to every ones choice, but if it’s what they would have wanted…why not? The change can be as simple as a different coloured vehicle. Many people do not want the colour black and so have a silver or white hearse and limousines. Of course there are other variations to the tradition hearse:

  • Horse and carriage
  • Pink hearse
  • Vintage hearse
  • Motorbike hearse
  • Bicycle hearse
  • VW Camper van hearse
  • Land rover hearse
  • Tank hearse
  • Eco electric hearse
  • Only fools and horses hearse
  • JCB hearse

Anything is possible

Flowers – Flowers are a part of the funeral service that shows a lot about the person. These can be traditional or modern and beautiful in their own right. Adaptation can be made by having flowers from your own garden, using their favourite colour or flower, and for the very keen vegetable gardeners there is also the option to use their own vegetables within the floral tribute.

On a different note there are also adaptations to the style of the tribute. I have seen many wonderful creations in my time including pigs, post boxes, fish, armchairs, football logos, horses, screwdrivers and many more. These were a mix of 2D and 3D and really show a different, unique side to the individual.

Music – A very personal part of the service and one that is very hard to select is the music.  Within this is how many pieces of music should there be. Traditionally there are two pieces of music and between 1-2 hymns depending on the type of service. A full Roman Catholic mass may have many more hymns within the service. For non-religious services it is becoming more common to have a piece of reflective music in place of a hymn. Within this time the congregation can take some time to remember the deceased. I would thoroughly recommend that this is something that is discussed as the music played shows the feel of the funeral and the individual. I have had the pleasure of hearing everything from Frank Sinatra to Johnny Cash, Metallica and even the Star Wars theme.

Speeches, reading, poems, and eulogy – It is a very poinient part of the service when the life of the deceased and the memories that people have with them are read out within the eulogy or within speeches. These can be funny, sad, shocking and very emotional. Readings and poems offer a way of expressing how you feel and can be either religious or non-religious. “The Broken Chain” is an example of a poem that could be used, especially when the death was unexpected or for someone younger. There are many sources to find such reading and poems but the best that I would recommend is your funeral director and your minister/officiant.

Photographs – These can be projected within a church or crematorium chapel and depict the life of the deceased.  These show all the defining moments from baby, growing up, teenage years, young loves, marriage, with children and grandchildren. Many crematoriums now have screens within their chapels and can have these playing to a piece of music. A simple single photograph can also be used to show the persons individuality. I have placed these within the hearse, alongside the coffin and by the flowers.

Order of service – These are the booklets that show the congregation how the service will be carried out, any words to hymns, where any charity donations are to be sent, any reception details and also gives a way of expressing yourself. There are many different styles out there and can be anything from 4 to 12 pages. If you’re stuck on what to do then ask your funeral director or other members of the family for inspiration. You will always be given a proof that will show you exactly how it will be laid out.

I hope this first part has given you some ideas on how you can individualise the funeral service, and that you find the second just as interesting.

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A little background insight

I am writing this first blog entry for Roseberry Funeral Service, to go through a bit of my experience of females within the funeral industry as this is close to my heart. I started as a Mortuary Technician and then onto Funeral Director. Within both these roles the women out numbered the men, but why is this? There are no statistics to show the number of men and women within the industry so we can only speculate why. Going from my own experience, working with the deceased has always been what I wanted to do and I am passionate about it. For me I always knew that I wanted to be either a mortuary technician or a funeral director. I have been lucky enough to do both roles. Looking at women in these roles, women vastly outnumber the men. When I was doing my qualifications there were around five women to each man. I worked hard to become a qualified mortuary technician and then again as a funeral director. This was something I wanted to do, and this is also where I see the difference between some men and women. The women I have encountered within these roles wanted to be there and didn’t happen into these job roles. Continue reading