Austin's Blog

 

Funeral transport: Making your last journey personal

June 28th, 2019    Author:

Funeral transport: Making your last journey personal

There are many sayings in life about journeys and travel. A journey is a common metaphor for life itself and they form the basis of numerous inspirational quotes. But we’re also a generation of physical globetrotters. We plot where we want to go, what we want to do; we have scratch maps to complete, bucket lists to fulfil.

So the final journey we make after we’ve passed away is, surely, just as significant. By choosing a mode of transport and a route to take to the final resting place, which are personal to the deceased, a funeral can feel more about their life than their death. It’s not about going into the dark and unknown, but celebrating life and creating more memories.

Our blog on personalising funerals [link to personalising funerals blog] touched on transport, but here we’ll look at it in more depth.

Why is funeral transport so significant? 

There are two aspects to personalising funeral transport. Firstly, it allows the deceased to travel in a way that is very personal to them, whether this is by their own planning before they pass away, or down to friends and family fulfilling their wishes on their behalf. This might be in a vehicle they owned themselves, something they loved going in, or perhaps even always wanted to experience!

There was a story in the news recently of a man who’s dying wish it was to have his coffin transported in the bucket of the JCB he drove for 30 years. There are some beautiful pictures online of the JCB taking him on the short journey from his home to the funeral, followed by his family and friends on foot. (https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/24/granddad-taken-funeral-bucket-jcb-9294632/)

The second aspect is about those left behind. Depending on the transport chosen, they can walk alongside, drive, or, in the case of a hand pulled bier, even carry their loved one themselves and be beside them right until the end. In some cases, following a traditional black hearse in a funeral car may feel quite distant and unfamiliar for the bereaved, perhaps even a bit stressful. It’s important to see how something as seemingly insignificant as the transport can help our stress and mental attitude at such a difficult time. [link to funeral stress blog]

A study by the Co-op revealed that more and more people want their funerals to be personal and celebratory affairs with Land Rovers and rainbow-hued vehicles to take them to their final resting places – and companies are responding to these wishes up and down the country!

 

What types of transport are available?

At Austin’s, we can arrange various modes of transport and always do our best to make your wishes happen. Aside from our traditional black hearses and limousines, we can offer…

  • A motorbike hearse with a sidecar for the coffin, from the classic style Triumph through to the iconic Harley Davidson
  • A VW campervan, which can also be accompanied by stretched Beetle limousines and a fleet of VW buses
  • A variety of different model Land Rovers
  • A 1950 vintage lorry
  • A hand pulled coffin bier, which has been in the Austin’s family for generations
  • A horse-drawn carriage with black or white horses

Around the world there are all sorts of options available, from New York taxi hearses to hot rod hearses. Another story that made the headlines was about a lady who arranged for a motorcycle hearse and a procession of Harley Davidsons to lead her funeral procession, after having her first ride on a Harley two years prior – aged 97! (https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/staffordshire/cannock/2018/11/03/great-grandmother-taken-to-her-final-resting-place-with-a-harley-davidson-funeral-procession/) You’re never too old to develop a new passion!

The final journey

Aside from the mode of transport, the final journey our loved ones take can also be made very significant by taking a personal route.

Earlier this month, the funeral of a long-serving paramedic and firefighter was reported in a local newspaper. He had a funeral cortege of emergency vehicles, which stopped briefly at the ‘Old Fire Station’ before continuing to the church, and then passing the fire station where he worked one last time before proceeding to the cemetery.  (https://uckfieldnews.com/emergency-vehicles-to-join-funeral-cortege-of-bruce-davy-uckfield/)

Whether your loved one’s wish is for one last tour of their hometown, a final blast down the bypass in a motorbike hearse, or even a brief stop at their favourite pub, you can make their final journey memorable and unique.

Claire Receives Outstanding Contribution to Charity Award

June 17th, 2019    Author:

Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards 2019 “Outstanding Contribution to Charity” Award

Claire Austin receiving her Award

On Thursday evening (13th June 2019), I had the great pleasure of attending the Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards held at St Albans Cathedral. Austin’s Funeral Service has been involved as a sponsor and a judge for these  awards for several years.

This particular evening, however, I had not anticipated being the recipient of an award.  It was a great surprise and privilege to receive the chamber’s award for Outstanding Contribution to Charity and to be presented with this accolade by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss CBE. I have undertaken a number of challenges to raise funds for local causes, including running the London Marathon, building a dam in Vietnam, a skydive and having my head shaved. In my role as Managing Director of Austin’s Funeral Service and Harwood Park Crematorium, I have become fully aware of the needs of our local community. My endeavours have provided funds to assist many local charities and I have found many of these activities personally rewarding. To be recognised, in this way, by the Hertfordshire Chamber is a great  honour.