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High-tech crematorium beams funeral services around the world

Introduction of new technology to Boston Crematorium has already enabled a funeral service to be beamed live to a grieving widower, ill in hospital. Unable to attend his wife's funeral, he was able to join in the singing and prayers at the same time as everyone else.

On another occasion, a relative who was not able to attend a service in Boston was able to deliver a eulogy from Australia.

The crematorium has recently installed high-tech equipment in the chapel to expand its range of services. It is now possible to webcast a funeral service to any location in the world that has internet access, so that relatives or friends can view a live stream of the service as it is taking place in the chapel in Boston.

Often mourners are unable to attend due to distance, cost of flights, illness, etc, and so it is comforting to them and to the rest of the family that they can take part in some way.

When arranging a webcast the family is given access to a website with a unique pin number so that only they can access it, and this can be passed to any other mourners that they wish to take part. After the initial broadcast the webcast is still available to view for seven days.

A large screen has been installed in the chapel and this can display photographs of the deceased or video footage. This can be anything from a still photograph displayed throughout the service, to a rolling slide show with or without music, or a pre-recorded video tribute.

Recently a mourner who lives in Australia was able to deliver a seven-minute eulogy which was displayed via video footage on the screen as part of the service. Although he was unable to attend in person, it was important to the family that he was able to play a vital part in the service.

In addition to this the funeral service can be recorded and supplied to the family as an audio CD or audio-visual DVD, and extra copies supplied if requested. A DVD of the visual tribute can also be supplied, or a recording of the service with any visual tribute embedded within it.

These new services complement the music service already in place in the chapel, which itself has been recently upgraded. The crematorium holds a large digital library of hymns and all kinds of other music which is requested and placed into a running order for each service. This is then played directly by the minister by the simple pressing of a button at the appropriate point in the service. Virtually any piece of music can be supplied, and if it is not already held in the library it is ordered and downloaded ready for the day of the service. That piece is then automatically added to the stock library, expanding the choice.

Families may also supply a special piece of music not commercially available, for example, a recording of the deceased playing the piano or singing. Such pieces have to be supplied in advance of the funeral service, so they can be processed and placed into the running order. All tracks are converted to a format which can be uploaded to the system, so it is important to plan the programme of music well in advance.

Martin Potts, Principal Officer at the Crematorium said: "It is very comforting for bereaved families to be able to tailor the funeral service to meet their specific needs, and, through the use of modern technology, we are now more able to meet special requests and expand further what is possible. The feedback so far from families who have used webcasting and visual tribute facilities has been very positive, and it has been gratifying to be able to provide what they want, as that is so important in helping them through the grieving process."

For further information please telephone the Crematorium office on 01205 364612 or email

Crematorium screen and pews Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window