As part of Brum YODO, Dying Matters Awareness Week 2016, a trip to Westall Park Natural Burial Ground in Redditch was arranged. Westall is as it says in the name, a natural burial ground where green and eco burials and internment of ashes take place.
The trip was organised by Fran and Carrie and attended by various ages of people, all intrigued to find out about natural burials. It reminded me of being on a school trip as the atmosphere on the bus was merry and full of discussions and expectations of the park. It made me smile as one passenger enthusiastically exclaimed ‘we’re here’ as he saw the sign to the park.
Our bus was met by Amy, manager of the park; and after tea and biscuits, attendees made their ways around the park. Dan the groundsman joined one group and explained the ethos of Westall Park and the process of natural burial. Visitors were very interested in what he told them, and asked him plenty of questions about the park.
It was a hot and sunny day, and the park was in full bloom with displays of brightly coloured wild flowers, trees and greenery everywhere. Birds and sheep from the next field could be heard, and the park was received by positive and complimentary comments. Attendees were overheard saying it wasn’t like a cemetery and was so peaceful, beautiful and tranquil.
Visiting the park changed attendees perspectives on their funeral wishes as two ladies changed their minds about being cremated and choose to opt for natural burials instead. Fran was very informative as attendees were keen to talk to her about funerals. Not many of us get the opportunity to ask an undertaker questions, so all seized the chance and spoke to Fran.
Celebrant Ellie, was also on hand to talk to people, answer questions about natural burials and helped Fran with handing out the all important refreshments. She spoke about ceremonies she had been involved with at Westall Park too and informed attendees about having choices when it came to funerals.
After the trip was over, it was back to Fletchers Bar in Kings Heath to continue with Dying Matters events. We were met with another array of seasonal flowers, displayed in an alternative way by Carole from Tuckshop Flowers. As a florist who not only grows her own flowers, but makes natural arrangements with them, the sight of flowers in her gardening boots was a talking point for passers by. Carole said she wanted her funeral flowers like this, as why not?
Inside Fletchers, professionals from St Mary’s Hospice, Macmillan and Inheritance Matters were available to talk to, and there were activities including coffin decorating, paper flower making, material wreath making and ‘before I die…’ boards for people to write on with their achievement wishes.
Staff at Fletchers were providing tea, coffee and amazing homemade cakes including Guinness cake and red velvet cake; of which I highly recommend. The Brum YODO events in Kings Heath have been very successful and well received, with some attendees returning each day.
Talking about death has been thought provoking, informative and actually fun. We are all going to die, that is a certainty, so why not talk about it? As Ellie wrote, ‘talking about death won’t bring it on, anymore than eating lettuce will make you thin’.
With thanks to:
Fran and Carrie, A Natural Undertaking
Amy and Dan at Westall Park Natural Burial Ground
Ellie Farrell, Alternative Ceremonies Uk
Carole Patilla, Tuckshop Flowers
Fletchers Kings Heath