Memoria’s new North Oxfordshire Crematorium & Memorial Park which will serve communities across North Oxford, Kidlington, Bicester, and the surrounding areas was officially opened and dedicated on November 4th. To mark the occasion a multi-faith service took place led by the Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft – the Bishop of Oxford, assisted by the Right Reverend William Kenney – the auxiliary Roman Catholic Bishop of Birmingham, the Reverend Paul Carter from the Oxford Methodist circuit and Barry Fowkes a local humanist funeral celebrant.
The congregation which included local Funeral Directors, invited guests and clergy was welcomed by company CEO and founder Mr Howard Hodgson. Mr Hodgson who has over 50 years’ experience in the Funeral Industry remarked that although over the last few decades culturally we have witnessed a move away from the rather historical Victorian type services normally associated with funeral providers, citing particularly the advent of more personalisation, direct cremation and the accelerated growth of pre-paid funeral plans – the one constant however that will always remain was the pain and loss we all collectively experience when we face a bereavement.
He went onto say that Memoria fully recognises this and to this end its mission statement is essentially built around focusing on trying to ease that pain as much as possible.
Memoria has a mission to provide exceptional standards of service and facility to the bereaved families that use its crematoria and gardens of remembrance. This is because it is not only commercially sensible to do so but also because it is an essential act of human decency towards people who have just lost a much-loved member of their family or friend. Bereavement is the price we must all pay for the joy of loving and being loved. The loss of a loved one is the most stressful, unhappy and traumatic experience that we will face in life.
We at Memoria realise that we are unable to eradicate such pain but we also know it is our responsibility and duty to be as efficient, kind, respectful and polite as humanly possible to our clients at their time of grief, and thereafter when they return to remember their cherished relatives or friends. Therefore, it is our aim to provide immaculately clean and tidy facilities in tranquil and beautiful surroundings attended by people who are sincerely dedicated to our mission, and who take a great pride in their work as a result.
Directly aligned to this aspiration, the site at North Oxfordshire includes many industry firsts including being the UK’s first crematoria to use a state of the art electric cremator, the provision of one-hour service times which avoid families seeing other funeral corteges arrive and depart, with the free option to further personalise the service with the inclusion of a projected personal image and committal lighting facility, complemented with screens for photo dedications/eulogies – all set in a beautiful tranquil countryside environment with stunning water features & extensive gardens.
The site also offers the unique Churchill Pavilion facility which is an ideal location for the family to meet and over refreshments thank other members and friends for their attendance in a comfortable & warm environment directly after the service has concluded.
This continued focus on the support of the bereaved has been recognised at a national level as in 2017 Memoria’s South Oxfordshire Crematorium & Memorial Park was named as ‘Best Crematorium in the UK’ at the Good Funeral Awards, with at that time Memoria’s seven other sites all featuring in the top ten. More recently in 2020, Memoria Cardiff and Glamorgan was a finalist in the prestigious ICCM Cemetery of the year awards (Small/Medium Burial ground category) wining Silver, in 2021 Memoria Kirkleatham went one better achieving gold status.
At the conclusion of the official service and prior to a luncheon in the adjacent Churchill Pavilion the congregation progressed out to the chapel entrance area and the Bishop formally blessed the site and its grounds and unveiled a commemorative plaque to record the occasion.
The Rt Revered Dr Steven Croft – Bishop of Oxford (Centre) stands with Memoria’s Directors, staff & other officiants shortly after the unveiling of the commemorative plaque to mark the official opening of the site and grounds.