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St Helens Cemetery and Crematorium opened its doors on Saturday 11 May 2019 to engage the community, dispel myths and encourage the public to talk about death. The open day was held as a launch to the start of Dying Matters Awareness Week and to be part of the National Federation of Cemetery Friends, National Cemeteries Week 2019.
On the day there were 22 partner organisations who helped make the day a success. These included: St Helens Council Bereavement Services; Registrars; Tell Us Once; Suicide Prevention; Healthy Living; Amparo and Listening Ear; the Ranger Service; Year of Environment; Grounds Maintenance; Friends of St Helens Cemetery; Willowbrook Hospice; Citizens Advice (CAB); representatives from local stonemasons; celebrants; and our six partnership funeral directors - Bate & Holland, Co-op Funeralcare, F W Marsh, Houghtons Funeral Service, J S Hedges and Walker’s Funeral Service.
The event opened with two white horses in rainbow colours and a silver carriage. The horses, known as Merlot and Vidam, stayed at the event throughout the day for visitors to enjoy. One of our partners engaged with dove releases at regular intervals.
The Friends of St Helens Cemetery held a taster Heritage Walk at 11.30am, starting with a dove release as they set off. 30 people attended this walk, which took in a tour of the cemetery and a number of local heritage features within the grounds.
There were various transport options on display, ranging from a traditional black hearse/limousine, a silver Jaguar hearse/limousine and Land Rover hearse.
This year’s Dying Matters theme was ‘are we ready?’ and display boards were set up in the crematorium to spark the conversation, with visitors encouraged to write comments about the day, a memory of a loved one, something off their bucket list and what music would be played at their funeral on a cardboard coffin, which was then recycled.
An open grave was available for visitors to visit and ask questions. The Grounds Maintenance team had equipment available to view. The Ranger Service was on hand to discuss how they support the Friends group and to discuss the Year of Environment.
Partners talked to visitors and answered any questions about funerals, funeral planning, financial advice or the cremation or burial procedure. No question was an awkward question.
The Suicide Prevention and Healthy Living Team provided advice on suicide prevention and counselling support was provided by Amparo and Listening Ear.
The Friends of the Cemetery launched the new fundraising appeal to provide a special area in the cemetery which is designed to help children express their feelings after bereavement.
The Friends group also opened the donated summerhouse gazebo, which had been erected in the dedicated children and infants' section within the cemetery.
The Bereavement Services staff carried out tours behind the scenes at the crematorium and 171 visitors took part in this tour.
The Bereavement Services team also discussed with visitors in attendance about the future exciting plans to modernise the crematorium building and they had examples of furnishings, a sample chair etc for visitors to make comments about.
The day was a huge success, with 292 visitors in total attending the day, plus 27 partners and 19 Bereavement Services staff.
It’s been really heartwarming to read all the positive feedback, thank you comments and feedback left by those who visited on the day, some from the borough and many from areas where this type of event is not available. The interest to discuss this often taboo subject is certainly there.
We are already planning our next one, which will hopefully be in May 2020, to launch our new crematorium once our modernisation project is complete.
St Helens Council and the Friends of St Helens Cemetery group hold events throughout the year.
Please visit this page to see what events are coming up and information on events that have taken place.
You can find more information about Friends of St Helens Cemetery by visiting their website.
10.30am, St Helens Crematorium Chapel
The Friends of St Helens Cemetery hosted this popular annual event at dusk on 26 July through the cemetery.
The bat walk took place with the support of the Ranger Service; about 85 people of all ages attended, the weather was good and for the first time some pipistrelle bats were spotted.
The Friends of St Helens Cemetery held the annual Tree of Remembrance Service at St Helens Crematorium on 8 December. The event was attended by over 150 people.
Before the service memorial, leaves were available for anyone who wished to leave a message of remembrance to a loved one. Leaves are still available from the crematorium office and you can make a small donation to the Friends of St Helens Cemetery group.
The Friends of St Helens Cemetery held their annual wreath-making event in partnership with St Helens Council rangers. Around 40 people came to make Christmas wreaths using willow and other locally sourced materials.
The Friends of St Helens Cemetery hosted this popular annual event at dusk on 27 July through the cemetery.
In spite of the downpour there was an amazing turnout; everyone was determined to stay and enjoy the bat walk. There were not as many bats as we would have liked, but we did see and hear them. The kids especially loved the bat detectors and all enjoyed their fluffy bats.
The Friends of St Helens Cemetery held their annual Father's Day Service at the Crematorium Chapel on 17 June. The service was conducted by local celebrant Darren Anders.
The event was attended by approximately 80 people, who took time to light a candle in memory of their loved ones.
Poem read on the day
We love you and miss you, Fathers, and though you've passed away, you'll never be forgotten, for we think of you each day.
If heaven celebrates this day how special it will be. A gathering of the many dads upon our family tree.
Your fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers too. How wonderful it is, if they can spend this day with you.
May you know how much we love you, though we’re here and you are there. Happy Father's Day in heaven to the best dads anywhere!
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