At West Berkshire Crematorium we are very proud of our facilities and the high standards of care that we provide for the bereaved.
On the day of a funeral or when visiting a loved ones resting place, families and visitors will only ever see our grounds and gardens, or the chapel or cemetery.
This dedication to providing the highest standards of care is further demonstrated behind the scenes at the crematorium. These are the areas that are not normally accessed by the general public.
Once the curtains close and everyone leaves the chapel the coffin is carefully transferred to the crematory where the name plate is checked again. The deceased details are provided on a name card and this card will follow the deceased throughout the entire process. Once all checks are recorded the coffin is charged into the cremator and the cremation process commences.
At the end of the cremation process the remains are collected and cooled. The final stage is the reduction of the remains to a fine ash that is suitable for scattering. The ashes are placed into an urn or casket where the name card will be attached for identification.
West Berkshire Crematorium has an open door policy whereby members of the public may by appointment view the facilities behind the scenes during an operating day. This policy will help dispel any myths and answer any questions. On seeing the cremation process the viewer can be reassured that all cremations take place individually, coffins are cremated with the deceased and that identity is maintained throughout the process so that a family can be sure that they receive the correct remains. We also accommodate Hindu and Sikh funeral rites whereby the charging of the coffin into the cremator may be witnessed.
For further details about the cremation process please refer to the ‘Code of Cremation Practice’ which West Berkshire Crematorium adopts in full.
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Westerleigh Group has a policy of carrying out a cremation within 24 hours of the funeral service. This means that the cremated remains (ashes) will usually be available by lunchtime the following day. When the cremations forms are completed with your Funeral Director, you will be asked if you have made a decision on the disposal of the cremated remains. At this point it is important to remember that there is no rush to make a decision. It is always best to wait if you are not absolutely sure as once the ashes have been scattered or interred that decision cannot be reversed.
Your choices for the ashes are usually as follows:
- Remove from the crematorium by the Funeral Director or the applicant for cremation (the person who completed and signed the cremations forms) for disposal elsewhere.
- Scatter in the designated part of the garden at the crematorium. This is usually carried out 2 months after the funeral service, unless we are advised to scatter sooner. We can either carry out the scattering for you or the scattering can be witnessed by members of the family. One of our staff will carry out the scattering and a prayer or poem can be said for you. No memorials or markers can be placed with the ashes when they are scattered. If you prefer to have the area marked in some way, then you would need to inter the remains and choose from our choice of memorials.
- Inter at a memorial at the crematorium (see separate section on memorial choices)
- Retain at the crematorium. This is the preferred choice if you haven’t yet made a decision. The crematorium will look after the ashes for up to 6 months, until you are ready to make your choice. During this time it is advisable to pop along to the crematorium to look around the grounds or just chat to one of our members of staff who can explain all the options.
The choice of the final resting place for a loved-ones remains can be very worrying and confusing. We would like to reassure you that there is no rush to make a decision and we are always here to help wherever we can.
Remember we offer a beautiful range of unique jewellery – just a spoonful of the ashes is needed to create a piece of jewellery or a crystal keepsake – and the rest of the ashes can be buried or scattered elsewhere.
Following a cremation, a variable amount of metals will be retrieved from the cremator. This is usually metal left from the manufacture of the coffin – nails, screws and staples etc. – but may also contain metal used in orthopaedic implants such as hip and knee replacements. Traditionally these metals would have been buried in the grounds of the crematorium, but in recent years the guidelines were changed to allow the metals to be recycled. This not only provides a far greater benefit to the environment but also allows us the opportuntiy to raise money for local charities. Now, the majority of all UK crematoria are currently recycling metals.
The Westerleigh Group has adopted a metal recycling scheme which takes the metal and, after deducting costs involved in the recycling process, such as transport, sorting and smelting, donates the surplus to local bereavement related charities. In the 5 years Westerleigh have been involved in metal recycling we have donated approximately £100’000 to UK charities.
Precious metal such as gold and silver jewellery that has been left on the deceased will melt and disperse during the cremation process. We would strongly advise that jewellery is not left on the deceased but is retained by the relatives.
Our ‘Application for Cremation’ form will advise families that we will be recycling the metal retrieved following their loved ones cremation and they have the option to opt-out of the scheme if they wish. They will be responsible for collecting the metals from the crematorium. However, the vast majority of families choose to join this worthwhile and beneficial scheme.
We donate this money once a year and we put details of the recipients on our website and the local press will usually publish the story to enable families to learn about the good causes that have benefitted from the recycling scheme.
The cremation of a human body is a highly emotional occasion for those taking part in the service. This must never be forgotten by the staff of the Crematorium, who must combine to create and maintain an atmosphere of reverence and respect throughout the entire proceedings.
Greatest care must be taken in the appointment of members of the Crematorium staff, any one of whom may, by conduct or demeanor, detract from the atmosphere of reverence which it is endeavoured to create. All staff employed in the operation of cremators must be suitably trained in the technical and ethical procedures and certified as specified in the Secretary of State’s Guidance Notes of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or any subsequent legislation made thereunder.
3. AFTER COMMITTAL
(a) A body shall not be removed from the Crematorium after the Service of Committal except for a lawful purpose. (b) Subject to receiving the necessary Authority to Cremate, the coffin and its contents shall be put into the cremator, as soon as practicable, exactly as they have been received on the catafalque. A body not cremated on the same day as the coffin is received at the Crematorium may only be retained on the written consent of the Applicant for cremation and in circumstances deemed necessary by the Cremation Authority, including impacts on the environment. All bodies retained at the crematorium will be accommodated in secure and sanitary conditions within the building. (c) Once a coffin with its contents has been placed in the cremator, it shall not be touched or interfered with until the process of cremation is completed. On completion the whole of the Cremated Remains/Ashes shall be collected and shall be disposed of in accordance with the instruction received.
4. CORRECT IDENTITY
(a) No coffin shall be accepted at any Crematorium unless it bears adequate particulars of the identity of the deceased person contained therein. If a coffin is encased, the cover and the coffin must bear adequate identity of the deceased person. (b) Every care must be taken to ensure correct identification throughout the whole proceedings from the moment the coffin is received onto the catafalque until the final disposal of the Cremated Remains/Ashes.
5. SEPARATELY CREMATED
Each coffin given to the care of the Cremation Authority shall be cremated separately.
6. COFFIN COVERS
When a re-useable cover is used to encase a coffin, signed authority must be given by the Applicant for the cremation authorising its use and consenting to its subsequent removal from the Crematorium.
7. METAL RESIDUES
Any metal found amongst the Cremated Remains/Ashes shall be disposed of in accordance with the directions of the Cremation Authority or Higher Authority.
8. CREMATED REMAINS/ASHES
The utmost care shall be taken to ensure that the Cremated Remains/Ashes, following their removal from the cremator, shall be kept separate and suitably identified. The Cremated Remains/Ashes shall be placed in a separate container awaiting final disposal. If the Cremated Remains/Ashes are to be disposed of in a Garden of Remembrance, this shall be conducted with reverence and respect. Cremated Remains/Ashes to be conveyed by a carrier service should be placed in a suitably labelled robust container and dealt with according to recommendations laid down by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities.
9. CREMATORS AND ANCILLARY EQUIPMENT
Cremators and all other ancillary equipment used in the Crematorium shall be kept in good repair and maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations, and the requirements of the current guidance Notes issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or subsequent legislation.
10. STATUTORY REGULATIONS
All cremations shall be carried out according to the provisions of the Cremations Acts and the Regulations made thereunder, and any subsequent legislation.
Issued October 2014