Monday, 16 November 2015

To speak or not to speak - that is the question? | Funeral Celebrant | Eulogy

David and Ruth Archer (Timothy Bentinck and Felicity Finch)
When selecting our viewing (or listening) choices, it is said that we are drawn to the soap opera that is closest to our own life experiences. We will - according to this theory - choose to follow fictional lives in imaginary environments that most closely resemble our own.

It is, therefore, no surprise that - as a farmer’s daughter from the rural county of Norfolk - I should be an Archers’ addict. I have followed the comings and goings of life in the Radio 4 village of Ambridge wherever I have lived in the world and for as long as I can remember.

Putting aside the obviously absurd and far-fetched story lines which crop up all too frequently these days, sometimes a script writer will accurately broach a topic which really hits its mark - one that will resonate with many listeners.

For example: Ruth being torn between the impossible demands of being with her husband and children, work at Brookfield Farm and caring for her elderly, sick  mother living in Northumberland, spoke to many of us members of the “in-Between Generation”.

And, when her mother died, how many more would have been reminded of the death of a parent and the complications of the subsequent paper work and funeral arrangements. When it came to the difficulty of deciding whether or not to speak at the funeral service, I found myself wishing that there had been a qualified celebrant on hand to guide her.

He was my north, my south, my east and my west - John Hannah (playing Matthew) brilliantly reads WH Auden's Funeral Blues in "Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Archers’ fans will recall that David - Ruth’s husband - regretted not speaking at his father’s funeral; and I don’t doubt that many bereaved relatives feel the same. They decide not to take an active role in the ceremony believing it to be too stressful and due to a natural concern that they might break down in the middle and be unable to continue. 

Don’t misunderstand, there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with this - I certainly had no desire to speak publicly at my father’s funeral - and it is perfectly fine to have your sentiments and words read by someone else - perhaps a friend or the person officiating. 

I would just like to let it be known that there is a third option; and one that I like to offer to bereaved family members who feel that they want to say something but are not sure that they will be able. It might be that they have written a piece about their special, individual memories of times spent with the deceased; or perhaps there is a favourite reading or poem that they would like to share.

Earl Charles Spencer speaking at the funeral for Princess Diana - his sister
So, here is my suggestion: first make sure that the Celebrant has a copy of what you would like to say, and then wait and see how you feel … not only on the day itself, but even after the start of the ceremony. It might be that with her opening remarks, the Celebrant has put you at ease and you feel brave enough to give it a go. You actually don’t have to decide until the very last moment before your piece is scheduled. 

When organising the order of service, I will place these contributions near the beginning so that the speakers can get their part over with as early on as possible. In the moment before, they can simply indicate with a nod or shake of the head how they are feeling - in my experience, at this late stage, all have decided to speak. I should also add, that it has previously been agreed that should they suddenly break down, I will gently step in and take over. After a few moments - if they are able to continue and want to - they can carry on at any time.

So, when faced with the dilemma - to speak or not to speak at a funeral for a loved one - my answer would be: prepare your words, and then wait and see.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

More thoughts on time - Communing with Nature | Green Funeral | Civil Celebrant

Perhaps the eulogy had to be discreetly edited, the processional music faded halfway through, the reflection time subtly abbreviated or the mourners gently nudged out at the end of the ceremony...

However it is achieved, it must be remembered that crematoria slots are usually 45 minutes and to overrun is the the show jumping equivalent of an undignified elimination - for instance, horse and rider ploughing through the triple combination and refusing three times at the water.

It seems to me that, after a lifetime of dashing about, our final journey should not  - in any way - be rushed. Our loved ones should be able to have as much time as they need to say their final goodbyes - without even the tiniest hint of pressure to hurry up.

So the Colney Woodland Burial Ground in Norwich gets the thumbs up from me. Two weeks ago I was called upon to officiate at a Celebration of Life memorial  there and was very pleased to hear that there would be no other ceremonies immediately before or after ours. 

The Woodland Hall, Colney
The Colney team also confirmed that there would be no problem if our ceremony were to overrun the hour that had been booked in the Woodland Hall. (Which it did by a full ten minutes). 

Family and friends were able to meet before the ceremony in the aptly named “Gathering Hall” for tea and scones - the latter being a favourite of the deceased. There was no sense of pressure to begin the ceremony promptly; and everyone was given as much time as they needed for these refreshments which were especially welcome for those who had travelled long distances to be there.

After the ceremony, the walk through the woodland area to the chosen spot to scatter the ashes, was also unhurried. It was exceptionally peaceful  meandering along the path through the trees allowing each person to be alone with their thoughts and memories and in harmony with nature.

Some families choose to scatter wildflower seeds with the ashes and I am told that the bluebells are especially beautiful there in the spring.

While no funeral can ever be pleasant for anyone attending, it can be a strangely satisfying experience - a true celebration of a life well lived. By taking as much time as we need to say that last goodbye,  it can also provide the opportunity of closure. 

Walking away, I have a re shuffle of life’s priorities. I thought, in the overall scheme of things, how important is it really to be under constant time pressure?  

And, most importantly, let’s always make the time to tell those we love how important they are to us … while we can.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Deadline Looming ? Let’s not rush the Final Journey | Funeral Celebrant

How time aware are you? By this I mean, if someone asked you for the time, without looking a your watch, how close to the correct answer would you be able to guess? Would it be seconds, minutes, hours away from the correct time ? 

Perhaps you are reading this whilst enjoying the luxury of being completely ‘time unaware’ - in holiday mode - and so disconnected that you don’t even know what day of the week it is.

I am currently wallowing in this relaxed, happy - and jet lagged - state. 
But the majority of us - most of the time - spend much of our lives under some sort of time pressure. We often hear people sigh ‘If only there were more hours in the day’ as everyone is too busy to fit everything into their hectic timetable.

When I worked on radio I was ├╝ber time aware. 
Every on-air second is a valuable commodity. There were advertising slots of 20, 30 or 40 seconds, interviews, jingle and music tracks lengths to juggle with. All this adds up to lots of mental arithmetic calculations preceding each hourly news bulletin. 

After many years in front of a microphone, I had it down to a fine art. I could look at the lines of text, or a guest on the other side of the desk, and know exactly how much needed to be said to create a seamless transition to the top of the hour pips. To crash them was the show jumping equivalent of 4 faults, while a clear round - every hour- was what was required.

My broadcasting experience stood me in good stead during my celebrant training. I totally understood the importance of working with a detailed and precise running order - or Anatomy of a Ceremony. And when it came to planning and writing funeral ceremonies, bearing in mind the strict time constraints imposed by crematoria, I understood perfectly the importance of accurate timings for each and every section.

As with the radio listeners, it is also crucial that no one attending a funeral should feel even a hint of time pressure. It is up to the celebrant and funeral director to bring about this relaxed state of affairs by accurate time keeping and careful preparation. 

Like a skilled radio presenter - or a swan on the water - we must at all times appear serene,cool, calm and collected … even if our legs are frantically paddling away beneath the surface.

More thoughts on time … next time.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Fifty Shades ... It's all about The Palette | Wedding Celebrant

Shades of artichoke - a personal favourite
Time was, when someone mentioned their “palette” you would think about the board used by artists to mix their paints … or perhaps - if  there had been a mix up with either of the homophones “palate” and “pallet” - their sense of taste, or even a platform used in a warehouse for moving things around.

But today - especially if there is a wedding in the air - the word “palette” refers to the tones of colours that will create the wedding theme for outfits, flowers and table decorations. At least that is clearly the case Stateside.

At the weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend (as a guest, not celebrant) a beautiful wedding in Berkeley, California. The venue was an open air amphitheatre-shaped clearing in a woodland park on
From sage to basil
an extremely warm, early September evening.

I had first visited the venue with the bride and groom back in May. I recall looking down the grassy banks at a  group of long legged, Californian lovelies lined up for photographs. There were about a dozen of these bronzed and polished young women each wearing a different shade of apricot and they were positioned - like a paint chart - by the depth of colour of their dresses. 

It was all so polished and perfect that I thought that we had bumped into a magazine photoshoot or possibly the filming of a DIY home decoration commercial. 

But no, the bride-to-be informed me that  what we were witnessing was the taking of wedding photos. She explained that the current trend was not to choose one single colour for the bridesmaids’ dresses - instead, (and this is where I first heard the word in this context) it was all about the “palette”.

Like the word itself, the scene below suddenly took on a whole new dynamic. Who decides who gets the baby-soft blush peach shade and who - at the other end of the spectrum - has to wear the almost glow-in-the-dark orange creation. 

Although the style of the dresses could be pretty much what you like, I found myself wondering about arguments and fallings out over FaceTime  and even a ‘swatches at dawn’ scenario at the hen weekend.

I should perhaps also point out that the same colour palette situation applies to the “groom’s people” who comprise men and women - friends and family - of the groom who also line up for the ceremony in a colour coordinated manner.
Groom's people and bridesmaids

So, back to our 'Labor Day' weekend celebration … the palette was perfect for the woodland setting. The bridesmaids wore shades of green - from the softest sage, through pistachio and mint to - staying with the herbs - dark basil tones. While all were dressed in greys and silvers on the groom’s side. It looked magical.

And me? What did I wear? Well, by happy accident, my bottle green lace dress was a perfect match. In fact - if I had been thirty years younger - I could have stood beside Miss Dark Basil in the bridesmaids’ line up! 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Blessingways and Ceremonies - the stuff of Meaningful Memories | Family Celebrant Norfolk

Naming ribbon from today's ceremony
Two months … two whole months … or, to be more precise, there has been a “blog gap” of nine weeks and a day.

Yes, I am pretty ashamed of my lack of posts and can only comment that it is pretty alarming how - once the original hiatus has happened, the massive chasm of silence somehow creeps up. It is surprising how two weeks somehow morphs, virtually unnoticed, into two months.

By way of explanation, I should point out that, in the interim, I have not been lying around and doing nothing. In fact the following has happened since my last post:

  • I have moved house … and country
  • the move included not only building work - the knocking down of the odd wall is never straight forward - but also much wanted and long planned family visits and house guests
  • and, on the downside, relocating featured a frustrating and ongoing struggle with BT which left me without Internet for longer than I care to remember (but that is another story).

Celebrating a wedding at The Georgian Townhouse, Norwich
As a celebrant it has also been a busy summer. I have met and acted for many delightful people and I feel honoured to have helped them all celebrate their life changing events. 

There have been many memorable moments - such as the groom who wrote and performed a song to his bride on their wedding day; through to today when a beautiful baby girl smiled and grabbed firmly hold of my finger at her naming ceremony; and her charming sisters who explained to me the number of kisses they shower daily on the new addition to the family.

Returning home after the naming ceremony, I read in today’s Sunday Times that “baby naming ceremonies (in particular) are becoming more and more popular”.

At baby Kiera Rose's naming ceremony
Under the headline “You are invited to a Blessingway” and with the strap line: “cancel the gift list and scrap the bunting - the new way to celebrate babies, moving house and even your divorce is with a spiritual ceremony”, the Sunday Times article speaks of the increasing popularity of “post-materialist” ceremonies. 

We celebrants have known for a long time that the events themselves - rather than the presents and gifts - are the meaningful stuff of memories; and now people the length and breadth of the UK are discovering new and innovative ways of marking life transitions.

The Sunday Times article ends with the sentence: “don’t forget to book the celebrant”… you can find one near you via the UK Society of Celebrants website - .

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Wedding Day Dawns | Family Celebrant

The Amphitheatre at the Villa Padierna Hotel
After so many months of planning and preparation, the Big Day dawns.

The Amphitheatre of the Villa Padierna Hotel (Estepona, Spain)  is magnificent in the evening sunshine…

This is what being a Family Celebrant is all about.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

What Not to Wear for a Celebration | Family Celebrant | Civil Celebrant

Pink for a girl and blue for a boy
When planning any ceremony, the choice of colour scheme will probably be one of the first decisions to make. Once the date and location is booked, our minds turn quickly to the style and colour of the event. 

For our guests it’s a pretty similar sequence. The jumble of thoughts on receiving an invitation include: ‘Oooh how lovely’ and ‘Can I make it?’ rapidly followed by ‘What will I wear?’ 

So what role does colour play in a ceremony? 

It’s pretty obvious that a naming ceremony for a little girl is going to require lots of pink decorations while blue ribbons and balloons are the boy option. However, the situation is considerably more complicated when arranging a wedding ceremony, vow renewal or civil partnership.
Colours of a favourite football team are popular

Nor can you take for granted that a sombre dark grey, navy or black is the dress code for a funeral. Part of the growing trend of ‘celebrating the life’ of the deceased - as opposed to focusing solely on the tragedy of loss and grief at his or her death - many families are now requesting that ‘mourners’ wear more optimistic and life affirming shades. 

The same colours as the strip of the deceased’s favourite football team are another popular choice. Let’s not forget that the theme tune of Match of the Day” is now firmly in the top ten of favourite funeral music. 

Colour must be taken into consideration when planning joyous celebrations too … and it’s not just about  the flowers and outfits for the bridesmaids.

Sand comes in all colours
If, for instance, “hand fasting” or a sand pouring ceremony is going to be included, then more decisions must be made - ribbons and sand come in all shades and tones; and - crucially - each one has a slightly different meaning.

More on selecting palettes and fifty shades of …to come.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Colours Can Clash - Celebrants Can't | Wedding and Family Celebrancy

Kate in cheerful, optimistic yellow and William in calming blue
A few short weeks ago it was all about the delightful daffodil, but now its the pesky dandelion that provides our yellow spring time fix. Uninvited, they cheekily popped up - almost overnight - decorating lawns and parks with unwanted custard-like splashes of colour.

On the bright side, I have spotted a much more welcoming trend in gardening fashion: clashing colours are now OK.

I am happy to report that, even in the most elite of gardens, it is perfectly acceptable to grow
A paint box of primroses at Sopwell House
a paintbox mix of plants as I spotted in one fashionable hotel spa last weekend. No longer is it de rigour to stick to carefully contrived toning hues, as clashing colours are now bang on trend - not only for interior decoration, but also when picking bedding primroses. 

It is cheering and uplifting to see oranges, pinks, purples, yellow and reds all jostling for attention alongside each other and set against a bright background of woodland bluebells.

I find this brilliant plant palette - with plenty of yellow in the mix - makes me smile and I am happy to discover that I am not alone.

Colour psychologists speak of yellow - being the lightest shade in the spectrum - as “uplifting and illuminating, offering hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun.” 

It is meant to inspire original thought and inquisitiveness while also being the colour of new ideas and inspiration.

No accident then, that the Duchess of Cambridge chose to wear a lemon dress as she left the Lindo Wing at the weekend with her new baby, Princess Charlotte.

That said, a quick search of the Internet is just as likely to reveal many different personality traits for yellow or, for that matter, a huge variety of different explanations for each and every colour of the spectrum. 
A riot of tulip colours at East Winch - my old village

While it is easy to accept  the simple theory that yellow is cheerful, red is energetic and shades of blue are calming - detailed analysis of the characteristics of colour are somewhat confusing. 

Hand fasting ribbons - which to choose?
With so many different interpretations it is, quite frankly, baffling. Added to which, many countries have their own nationalistic and historic views on the meaning of colours. It is therefore, perfectly possible, to cause offence by simply saying, doing or wearing something unwittingly inappropriate - especially in a ceremonial situation.

So the topic of colour can be something of a minefield for a Celebrant to negotiate.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Colour Ceremonies | Mellow Yellow … quite rightly

On the face of it, the London borough of Newham has little in common with Ullswater in the Lake District. However, on recent trips to and from London City Airport I have been struck by a metropolitan version of Wordsworth’s  countryside - miles of brilliant yellow daffodils standing tall and densely packed into the broad central reservation of the congested North Circular.

Whilst driving around the capital is an extremely far cry from Wordsworth’s scenic lakeside walk with his sister, today’s commuters can surely understand the inspiration for what is arguably one of the best loved of all British poems.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Although not my favourite flower (in fact I am allergic to the cut blooms), these early

Narcissis Jenny - my favourite
harbingers of spring always warm my heart and make me smile. I also admire their resilience …even the super-enthusiastic ones that appear far too early, do not curl up and whither at the first sign of bad weather. They don’t break or blow away in the wind like the fickle early cherry blossom petals. Instead, the typical hardy daff retains its citric cheerfulness - irrespective of the weather - for weeks on end. 

OK, so these large brutish bulbs need to be sturdy to cope with traffic fumes and everything the March elements can throw at them. They in no way pretend to be subtle or sophisticated - like their more elegant and creamy-toned relatives (Narcissus Jenny are my personal favourite), but they get the job done: they announce that winter is over and spring is on its way and, in my opinion, they don’t deserve the bad press that they have been getting.

Under the headline “Why I Hate Daffodils”, John Crace in the Guardian described them as “dull” and “hideous” and wrote of his desire to destroy them all. We are also lead to believe that - due to their abundance - this sturdy cultivated variety is threatening the smaller wild daffodil that is native to the British Isles. 

But what - I hear you wondering - has any of this to do with being a Celebrant? 
It’s all about colour - in this case, the colour yellow, and what its meaning can bring to a ceremony.
Please, bear with me on this one … there’s more to come …

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Wedding Celebrant | Vows - it's OK to laugh

This couple's wedding vows went viral after the bride gets an uncontrollable fit of the giggles when the groom stumbles over the word "lawfully" - it seems that his sub conscious mind had wandered off to waffles and pancakes!

It really isn't that unusual to burst out laughing at moments of high tension -YouTube and out take TV programmes are full of such clips. If "corpsing" can happen to professional actors, what hope is there for us amateur stars on our Big Days? Probably, not much!

Even at funerals, the most solemn of occasions, mirth can - and sometimes does - spill over amongst the mourners. If this happens the message should be that it is not disrespectful and that it is OK to laugh.

Celebrants have to learn to cope with the unexpected at any ceremony and calmly pick up where it all went wrong - although I think this celebrant was a tad hasty in trying to get the vows back on track, as our bride clearly wasn't composed enough for another try.

I am pretty certain that when this couple look back on their wedding day, they will recall saying their vows ... and smile at the very funny memory.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Funeral Celebrant | Death-phobic ... so what?

Caitlin Doughty - founder of The Order of the Good Death
 … And what about the funerals? 
Most people who are curious about the work of a celebrant, focus on what we celebrants call “Family Celebrancy” - the planning, writing and delivery of joyous events like weddings, naming ceremonies and vow renewals. Few want to know about funerals or memorial ceremonies so I tend not to bring up the topic unless asked.

I began the previous paragraph with the word “most” - as opposed to “all”. In fact, recently two female friends have asked me about the celebrant’s role in helping grieving relatives plan their loved one’s last journey. 

In both cases my friends also wanted to share their own experiences of attending funerals. Their stories brought home to me - yet again - how this most personal and moving of all ceremonies can be made or ruined by those “in charge” of the event. 

There is no doubt that a sympathetic celebrant working closely with the deceased’s family; and a caring funeral director can make this - whilst still the saddest of occasions - into a true celebration of a life well lived. I would hope that a “good funeral” can help with the grieving process and afterwards I like to hear the comment that the deceased, themselves, would have approved of their own funeral.

I will be finding out more about “The Order of the Good Death” - an organisation of funeral industry professionals, academics and artists who explore ways of preparing our death-phobic culture for inevitable mortality. Its founder is a remarkable young American mortician called Caitlin Doughty.

Caitlin is also the author of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory” and creator of the web series “Ask the Mortician”. She is a passionate advocate of death acceptance and the reform of Western funeral industry practices. I am looking forward to hearing her talk at the Barbican Open Salon, London on April 15th.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Wedding Celebrant | Prepare for al fresco ceremonies

Grumpy geese, wet sheep, random ramblers and the possibility of maypole or morris dancers aside, there is a lot to be said for wedding ceremonies al fresco as long as you are well prepared. 

As every successful family celebrant knows, ceremonies that leave nothing but happy memories behind, tend not to happen by accident. Even the simplest, understated event should be carefully orchestrated down to the last tiny detail.  Remember the old adage: fail to plan and you plan to fail.  
A small bottle of water for each guest

If you still decide to go ahead with the common ground venue, and set up the buffet over a public footpath, any passing walker with an appetite can partake of your hospitality. If your marquee encroaches in any way on a bridlepath, you cannot stop wet dogs - or anyone else for that matter -from joining in your party. The local police can only get involved if there is a disturbance - but who wants that on their big day?

Obviously, the success of any outdoor location is going to be determined - at least to some degree - by the whims of the weather. Be sure to inform your guests if there will be grass under foot so that the women can abandon their high heels in favour of platforms and everyone can bring a colour-coordinated brolly … just in case.

And don’t think that weather-related hazards are exclusive to the vagaries of the English climate. Mediterranean summer weddings also need to be well planned taking into account the angle of sun at the exact time of day and the correct placement of canopies. 

Undoubtedly the summer months - while the most popular amongst brides - can be positively dangerous without adequate shade and making sure that everyone is properly hydrated. Place a small bottle of water by each seat; and pretty fans make ideal wedding favours for your guests. 

The combination of a tight dress, a few too many glasses of cava on top of a nervous empty stomach baked together in the 30-degree sunshine can lead to disaster. Victorian melodramas aside, fainting brides are not a pretty sight!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Family Celebrant | It's all down to location

Geese are not always friendly
On the village green beside the duck pond, or on a Mediterranean beach at sunset … couples can now choose anywhere and any time of the day or night to celebrate their marriage or civil partnership, vow renewal or even naming ceremony.

If you can find a celebrant and enough friends and family who like mountaineering or deep sea diving  - your special day could be spent on a mountain top or you can even say “I do” with bubbles through underwater breathing apparatus. 

Woodland, yurt, castle or even in your own back garden, which ever location you pick, it’s a good idea to talk to your celebrant or wedding planner before getting the invitations printed so that he or she can point out any potential hazards. What might happen, for instance, if that predicted summer shower turns out to be the heaviest downpour since weather records began. It might be wise to have a Plan B in place … just in case.

So, to make sure that your special day is memorable for all the right reasons, here are one or two thoughts to consider when picking that all important location, location. location …
Morris dancers also have rights

Quaint and picturesque though it might be, homework is definitely needed before choosing to hold your ceremony on a piece of common land in the centre of a village. Apart from the obvious cautionary notes about duck mess or possible grazing sheep, you also don’t want the local under 15 cricket team to start putting in their stumps and nets in the spot you had allocated for elderly aunts’ seating. Do check with the parish council first. Although “common” land technically belongs to everyone in the community, there could well be a pre-booking rota in place.

The cricket team might have pre-booked
Best also to talk to the council and check out any detailed local maps regarding the possibility of obstructing by ways or public footpaths. If, for instance, you put up a marquee or hold an open air party over a foot-path, anybody who chooses to join in your celebration, is within their rights to do so. 

Forget the words “gate crasher”, absolutely any passing person or animal can become your uninvited guest and take full advantage of your hospitality enjoying the full catering service and drinks on offer.  

This is food for thought. Remember it is a “bridle-path” not a “bridal-path”.

More on this next time…

Monday, 2 March 2015

Civil Funeral Celebrancy | Eco-coffins the next Trunki ?

Death and Taxes … Whilst it might be a fact that these are the only certainties in life, it is also true that we don’t like to talk about either one.

As we go about living our day to day lives, most of us choose not to think about the final journey we will take nor make any provision for it.  Although the rational part of our brain knows it isn’t so, it’s as if, by thinking about it, we might somehow make it happen sooner. 

Of course this is nonsense. But, we can at least take some comfort in knowing that we are in good - or, at least successful and intelligent - company. I have rarely seen the Dragons (Dragons’ Den Series 12 Episode 9) want to get rid of any budding entrepreneur as quickly as when the investment topic was Eco-Friendly Coffins. 
Decorated eco-friendly cardboard coffins

It was instantly clear that - irrespective of how appealing the pitch or attractive the numbers - there was no way that Peter Jones, Kelly Hoppen or Piers Linney were going to part with any of their cash. Duncan Bannatyne and Deborah Meaden struggled to show even a cursory interest in the green coffins that were rather ingeniously made from compressed straw which, we were told, could replace wood in the future and was far better for the environment than either cardboard or wicker.

While I appreciate that coffins are seen as an unappealing investment opportunity, it is however an indisputable fact that one day - hopefully well into the  distant future - we will all need one. With the world moving towards a sustainable future and the trend for green funerals catching on fast, there is no doubt that the market for environmentally friendly coffins is a growing one.

Many people - not just the hard-line environmentalists - will walk away from the beautiful meadow of a natural funeral ground with the abiding impression that this is what they would like when their time comes. In order to comply with the regulations of a green funeral you are going to need either a shroud or an eco-friendly coffin made, for instance, of cardboard, cane, willow. woven banana leaves or, indeed, compressed straw. 

The rejection by the Dragons of the compressed straw coffins might just have been a business blunder. Remember the Trunki ? Back in 2006 the prototype Trunki was dismissed by the Dragons when its pull handle came off … and today almost two million have been sold around the world. Theo Paphitis and co must kick themselves every time they pass through an airport. Maybe today’s Dragons might also have regrets when they attend funerals in the future.