Freeman Brothers has been operating as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, since 1855. The company remains independent and family-run, now with a further three offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – across the county. Part of the team’s duty in serving customers to the best of their abilities involves staying on top of the latest trends and offering new options when available. Funeral Arranger, Alex, tells us more…
I’m used to receiving a variety of requests from the people I arrange funerals for. In the past, highlights have been things like using a Ghostbusters car as a hearse, and organising a Volkswagen camper van hearse and limousine. But the smaller elements matter too, and I’m always keen to hear about new keepsake items or containers.
Cardboard scatter tubes have been popular for many years, as they are a softer alternative to a traditional urn. They’re a bit more personalised, as you can choose from a range of photos on them, and they’re also designed with a tab in them to make the act of scattering easier.
However, they still aren’t to everyone’s taste, and I’ve ordered all sorts of things such as a biodegradable shell – designed to be put in water – or items made from silver or bronze. With the choices of what coffins can be made of or how they can look always increasing, it’s nice to be able to offer the same diversity with ashes containers.
Customers are increasingly eco-conscious, and earlier this year, I ordered an urn made of cornstarch for the first time. We were all really impressed by the aesthetic of it – it was bright blue and, even when you held it, you might not have guessed what it was made of. Something attractive and better for the planet is a welcome choice!
Last week, my colleague Becky showed me an Instagram post she’d spotted by one of our existing suppliers, Secure Haven. They had announced that they had some brand new items in stock, and we quickly expressed an interest, as these were woven scatter tubes. They efficiently responded and sent us some information via email, so I placed an order to have the items available for display in the office.
The scatter tubes arrived the next day, and the quality of them is brilliant – you’re never sure how these things are going to be, as there can be a big difference between the texture of similar materials, and these are fantastic.
We have four new designs of scatter tube, each in two sizes: willow, plain bamboo, patterned bamboo, and seagrass. Inside each tube is a fabric bag, which ties with a material matching the scatter tube – they look like small ropes. The tube also comes with a matching fabric presentation bag, which is tied with a ribbon. This is something I really appreciate: one of the significant bonuses of the shell urn I’ve ordered previously is that it comes in a box which has a handle so that you can carry it securely to the site you intend to use it at, and these bags will be great for the same purpose.
As the tubes are fully biodegradable, they could be buried with the ashes inside, or you can use them to scatter the ashes. Equally, if you’re planning on keeping them at home whilst you decide what to do with the ashes, or wait for an appropriate time to hold a ceremony, they are unobtrusive visually. All four of the tubes are available to view at our office in Horsham.
In addition to the scatter tubes, Secure Haven has launched a range of biodegradable urns. These will be very useful, as I’ve noticed that certain burial grounds and places are becoming more particular about the composition of materials. These urns are styled more traditionally, a big container which looks like a jar or vase, but they are fully biodegradable, with them taking just two weeks to degrade underground, or 20 minutes in water.
We’ve always said at Freeman Brothers that choice and personalisation are key elements for funerals, and so to offer even more of this fits well with our values. I’m looking forward to seeing what our customers think of our latest options!