Farm farewells and musical tributes: Co-op helps mourners to say their best goodbye amidst significant funeral restrictions

06 May 2020

George and Ann wedding

The UK’s leading funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare has revealed some of the most unique and beautiful funerals it has arranged for families during the UK lockdown.

Ranging from a socially distanced funeral on a farm, to an outdoor service with music at its heart, the tributes have been shared as the Co-op launches a range of new services to help bereaved families overcome significant funeral restrictions and still say their best goodbye.

One farming family in South Devon overcame the closure of their local church by giving their beloved grandad, Les Elliott (85), a unique send-off on his farm, with his favourite tractor carrying his coffin.

Granddaughter Tamsin Oakley said; “The farm is our family home and I thought it was the perfect place for us to say our last goodbyes.”

Meanwhile, 78-year-old Ann, who lives in Leeds but is originally from Country Durham, paid tribute to her husband George, 82, by playing the family’s chosen funeral music through a Bluetooth speaker to mourners outside the crematorium. Due to Cottingley Hall Crematorium’s decision not to allow mourners to enter the building, Ann led George’s hearse procession to its doors and said goodbye outside before he was laid to rest.

“To walk in front of George on his final journey was the proudest moment of my life, but it was also one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. To get through it, I imagined I was walking down the aisle on our wedding day… but I knew George wouldn’t be waiting for me.”

Details of the tributes have been revealed as the Co-op adapts its services to help ensure that bereaved families impacted by the UK lockdown can still say their best possible goodbye today and in the future.

At a time where attendance at funerals is sadly restricted, Co-op has introduced a cortege service to help families opting for direct cremation to arrange a last journey for their loved one, be that to the family home or another place of significance.

In response to changing demand for services, Co-op has also become the first national funeral provider to introduce a direct burial service. This is a burial without an attended service, however there is the option for families to arrange a final journey for their loved one should they wish.

Social distancing restrictions have meant that floral tributes for funerals have been in short supply as many florists close for business. In response to this,

Co-op has partnered with Flowerbx to ensure it is able to continue to provide families with access to a range of fresh floral tributes on all funerals nationwide.

The changes to services come as Co-op has also launches the full details of a new Co-op Funeralcare Hardship Fund, part of the Co-op Members Coronavirus Fund, a fund which has allowed Co-op’s 4.6 million members to donate their unspent existing member rewards.

Following a great response from members and support from the Co-op’s CEO, the Funeralcare Hardship Fund will provide families of keyworkers who have sadly passed away due to Covid 19 and who are in financial hardship with a £250 contribution towards funeral costs. Recipients of the fund can also apply to receive additional financial support from the government.

To help families who would like to create a full memorial service paying tribute to their loved one once the restrictions are lifted, Co-op has also introduced future remembrance services.

Sam Tyrer, MD for Co-op Funeralcare said, “Being able to say goodbye means so much to people who are grieving, and a funeral continues to provide families with a vital opportunity to pay tribute to those who they love and miss so much.

In the face of such significant restrictions, our colleagues have been dedicated to supporting families and communities across the country through this time of great loss. We are arranging funerals in a way we would never have thought possible just weeks ago so that bereaved families can continue to honour their loved ones in a unique and beautiful way and say their best possible goodbyes.

Whilst communities are not able to come together as they usually would to pay their respects, we have made sure that there are other ways for those impacted to be part of their loved one’s final journey. We have also been focused on ensuring that there’s an opportunity for all mourners to pay tribute at a time when we can all come together again.”

ENDS

For further information, full case studies, photography, video content or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Sarah Jane Thoms | sarahjane.thoms@coop.co.uk | 07890 384 552

Vikki McCrindle | vikki.mccrindle@coop.co.uk | 07773 096 868

Lauren Pogson | lauren.pogson@coop.co.uk | 07702 505 626

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About the Co-op

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, legal services and health. It has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities.

Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 1,000 funeral homes and it provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited. It has more than 63,000 colleagues and an annual revenue of over £10 billion.