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New Forest Crematorium launches in New Milton

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MOURNERS are promised a “peaceful” local place to say goodbye to their loved ones as the New Forest Crematorium opens in New Milton.

The single-chapel development sits within 11 acres off Stem Lane and Great Woar Copse and is run by the Westerleigh Group, the UK’s second largest crematorium operator.

Capable of hosting up to 48 services per week, the facility will serve those from New Milton, Christchurch, Bournemouth and surrounding areas.

Manager Graeme Horobin
Manager Graeme Horobin

Speaking to the A&T on the eve of its launch, manager Graeme Horobin said people can expect a “uniquely personal experience” from a service utilising a connection with the local community.

He explained: “I think the most important thing is we’re filling an important gap.

“Nobody in this area has much of a choice of where to go for a funeral service with a cremation – they’ve previously had to go to Bournemouth or Southampton.

“What we’re doing is giving people the opportunity to stay closer to home and avoid having to take that journey up the A31.”

An unattended funeral was to have been the crematorium’s first on Wednesday before its first attended service on Monday.

The chapel
The chapel

There is seating for 117, with further standing space and provision for larger gatherings to witness services from outside as well as webcasts. There are 104 parking spaces.

Personalised religious or non-religious services can be held, with specialist provision including a choice of hearse, such as vintage, horse drawn or even motorcycle.

“We can provide a uniquely personal experience,” Mr Horobin continued.

“When you lose somebody you don’t always know what to do because it’s all a bit of a shock.

“That’s when the skill of a funeral director comes in to help with what you can do.”

As reported in the A&T, controversy surrounding the crematorium included hundreds of residents signing a petition against it and a campaign group set up to fight it.

The memorial garden
The memorial garden

Mr Horobin said the “environmentally-friendly” facility had a state-of-the-art filtration system.

“You don’t have pollution – the filtration removes everything, so all that comes out is warm air,” he added.

The crematorium’s local associations include weekly chapel flower displays from Christchurch florist Willow and Wisps, and paintings of New Forest scenes by Sway artist Claire Kitcher.

A large driftwood horse from Bashley’s Redcliffe Garden Centre is a centrepiece for the extensive memorial garden, where commemorative trees or roses can be planted. Mourners can also choose to dedicate a bench.

Running a crematorium marks a significant career change for Mr Horobin who, until six months ago, spent his entire adult life working in retail.

An aerial view
An aerial view

He has since earned his cremating licence and taken on various roles at crematoriums across the UK ranging from chapel attendant to grounds worker.

“I’ve found it very rewarding,” he said. “Certainly, the environment is very different to working in a shopping centre, but equally the opportunity to make a difference to a family on a difficult day is a bit of a privilege really.”

He concluded: “I like to think we’re going to be able to offer a peaceful, beautiful location where families can choose to come and stay more local than the previous options they’ve had.”

For more information visit www.newforestcrematorium.co.uk

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