First look around the new Watermead Crematorium
It’s a light, airy site built in beautiful stone with a picturesque view across the lake, and a memorial garden atop the old dry ski slope where people can scatter the ashes of their loved ones.
It is an impressive facility, and one that has been much needed in Aylesbury Vale. Previously, people would have to make the journey to Amersham to cremate their loved ones.
The company cares for nearly 40,000 funerals a year.
The site was commissioned by Westerleigh, who operate 33 crematoria, and a small number of cemeteries, across England and Wales.
The new project involves a 90-seater chapel, with standing room for up to 200.
The chapel can be adapted for all faiths, to provide a fitting tribute to those who have passed.
We caught up with Heather Dyson, who is the crematorium manager.
She said: “It’s a huge relief for us to finally be open, and providing a valuable service to the people of Aylesbury Vale.
“It’s been a long road to get to this point, but now we’re finally here after the first service, it feels great.
“For a long time now we’ve been getting queries from local funeral directors about when they are opening, the demand is so high.”
The crematorium will aim to run on average, four funerals a day in hour long slots.
Heather added: “Most crematoria only run 45 minute slots, but we wanted to give users as much time for reflection as possible.
“Furthermore, all funerals will be held outside of rush hour, so as to not disturb local residents making their way too and from work.”
It hasn’t been an easy process. The plans were met with great objection from the people of Watermead, and the parish council launched a legal challenge to previous planning applications.
Westerleigh accepts that there is much work to do to win over the community close to the site.
Heather said: “We have tried to work as close as possible to the local community by engaging with the parish council. On their recommendation we’ve installed screening from across the lake and also blinds to reduce the light pollution from the chapel.
“People always have horrible images of dark Victorian crematories, but this one I think you will agree is a beautiful place, in a beautiful location. We must have viewed upwards of 1000 suitable properties across the Vale, to find the right one.
“I think we’ve found the right one here.”
The new site includes a state-of-the art cremator, which cost half a million pounds and ensures there is no dispersal of human remains into the atmosphere.
There will be no smoke emissions, and the most up to date mercury abatement technology will be used.
A ‘basic’ cremation will cost £645, which includes use of the chapel, provision of the music system, medical referee’s fees, a mercury abatement levy, dispersal of cremated remains in the ‘Garden of Remembrance’, a cremation certificate and provision of biodegradable box.