All aboard the funeral revolution

Kate Tym and Kate Dyer, two independent celebrants, brought the ‘funeral revolution’ to Hastings when they launched the UK’s first Coffin Club in 2017.

Coffin Club aims to empower people to take control of planning and costing their end-of-life celebrations, and has been going from strength to strength.

Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes OBE, has just become the project’s first patron, and now the Kates are inviting more local people to come along and plan their perfect send-off.

Coffin Club is based on a model that has run successfully in New Zealand for a number of years and was initially aimed at elderly people, those who are terminally ill and people who care for others coming to the end of their life. In reality, Coffin Club has attracted a wide range of people – all wanting to take back control of their end-of-life celebration planning.

Through free educational talks from industry specialists and creative workshops, ‘clubbers’ are given the tools they need to make informed decisions about their funeral, and have open discussions about their wishes with those close to them. For an extra cost, people can purchase their own eco-friendly coffin, which they are encouraged to decorate in a way that reflects their life and their interests.

We asked Kate and Kate what they think the biggest impacts have been on those who have come to Coffin Club since it began:

Kate T explained; “People sometimes think Coffin Club will be a sad place, but it’s actually the opposite – every week there’s so much fun and laughter.”

Kate D added; “We’re normalising something that, in our society, has been turned into a scary and taboo topic, but educating yourself about your options and taking control is really empowering,”

“The average funeral is currently around the £4,000 mark,” says Kate T. “Not a sum of money that most people just have lying around readily available to them. We can help break down the costs of your funeral and show ways you can reduce that cost. We also encourage people to think about putting money away and saving, but not through an inflexible, over-priced funeral plan.”

Coffin Club has a strong social aspect too. “Our clubbers really bond with each other,” says Kate T, “in fact, they now have a once-a-month coffee morning where they all meet up independently of us.”

“I think the depth of the subject means people really open up to each other and form very strong relationships quite quickly. If nothing else, Coffin Club gets people out of the house for six Wednesday mornings – meeting other people, using their brains and above all, having fun!” adds Kate D.

Find out more about Coffin Club by visiting www.coffinclub.co.uk. The next round of meetings takes place from 27th February to 3rd April 2019.

People from around the country have been attending master classes to find out how to set up and run a Coffin Club in their area. Details of upcoming master classes can be found here.

Through the Building Stronger Communities work stream of the East Sussex Better Together Alliance, a series of cascade events have been scheduled in order to inform local community organisations about Coffin Club and how it could benefit those they come in to contact with. Click here to find out more about upcoming events and book your place.