Sometimes things have to change...
The experience of arranging their fathers' funerals led John and Mary Mallatratt to one conclusion - there had to be a better way. The funeral directors that they used offered very little support to the family to help them to create funerals that felt appropriate. It all felt very unsatisfactory and disrespectful. This was in the 1980's.
These experiences continued to niggle over the years and so, in 1996, determined to make a difference, John and Mary (with no funeral directing background) decided to set up Peace Funerals. Peace was a company designed to challenge how funerals were done; a company fiercely committed to supporting families to create funerals that felt appropriate, personal, and affordable. And ever since, Peace Funerals has continued with this mission.
In the early years, things were very difficult. Although Peace's founders remained convinced that there was a need for their new approach to funerals, and this was confirmed by the feedback that they received from the families with whom they worked, there were others, both within and outside the profession, who found this fresh approach challenging.
However, the team at Peace stuck to their principles and introduced a number of new ideas and services. Many of these have now made it into the mainstream. Here are some examples.
The 'New' Approach
Peace Funerals' commitment to the environment led them to design the first willow coffin to be used in the UK. Created entirely from sustainable resources, the Mawdesley Willow was initially made by Lancashire-based master basket-maker, Derek Noble.
Peace also established two of the first natural burial grounds in the country - the South Yorkshire Woodland Burial Ground, at Ulley, and the Golden Valley Woodland Burial Ground, near Alfreton. There are now more than three hundred such sites across the country.
Peace's commitment to transparency, and the empowerment of families, led them to be the first funeral company in the UK to publish their comprehensive price list on their website. That was over twenty years ago, and sadly there are still many funeral directors who fail to do this even today.
The commitment of Peace to providing greater choice to families led them to pioneer the introduction of Individualised Funeral Plans, and Railway Funerals (see separate blog). They also offered every family the option of Assisted Washing and Dressing of their loved one.
One of the things that felt so 'wrong' in those early years was the type of funeral service that families were forced to choose. At a time when government statistics showed that less than 10% of the population regularly attended a place of worship, and a similar proportion identified themselves as atheists, it was only these two groups who were adequately catered for when it came to creating a funeral ceremony - the first group by the clergy and the second group by humanists. The remaining 80% of the population had to pick one or the other.
Peace recognised that many people were (and still are) in an ambiguous relationship with their religious beliefs. Such people often wanted a 'semi-religious' service designed to be very personal whilst giving an acknowledgment of their basic religious belief. Nowadays celebrants will help design and lead such ceremonies but then nothing was available so it fell to the founders of Peace to step up to lead personal ceremonies as well.
Funerals will continue to evolve as all of us take more control over what we want. The team at Peace Funerals, now a dozen permanent staff, welcome these changes and are fully committed to supporting the empowerment of the families with whom we work. We see it as our role to help you to achieve what you want.
We’re here to help
Please don’t feel you have to do this alone. Our team are on hand to provide personalised, practical help & advice no matter what your situation.
From the blog...