Only Fools and Hearses!

The funeral of keen horse racing fan Stuart Abey from Fleetwood.  Pictured is son Darren Abey.

The funeral of keen horse racing fan Stuart Abey from Fleetwood. Pictured is son Darren Abey.

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Mourners are turning away from tearful funeral services at church in favour of more elaborate celebrations, it has today been revealed.

According to new research by a major funeral provider, there is an increasing trend of favourite songs being played, photographs on coffins and funerals being held in gardens, beauty spots or even sports venues.

Co-operative Funeralcare found coffins have been transported by bus, motorcycle, Cadillac, tandem bicycle or horse-drawn carriage, with a Buddhist funeral hearse, pictured above at North Pier in Blackpool, available for hire.

Fleetwood man Darren Abey, pictured, agreed there has been a change in attitude to funerals.

Darren, 49, of Oxford Road, runs a motorcycle transit company and an alternative Delboy Trotter-themed funeral business, Only Fools and Hearses.

It includes one of the original, yellow Reliant Regals used in the famous sitcom, Only Fools and Horses, and a yellow trailer which contains the coffin. This year, at his own dad Stuart’s funeral, he also trialled a new feature – a sports-themed hearse based around his dad’s love of horse-racing.

Now Darren is offering funerals designed around sports like football, rugby, golf and cricket.

He said: “These days it’s all about celebrating the person’s life and their individuality.

“Everyone is different and instead of treating everyone the same, people enjoy having their loved one’s life, who they were and what they actually liked, celebrated.

“With Only Fools and Hearses, it brings a smile to people’s faces. Of course there will always be sadness at a funeral, but more people seem to enjoy a lighter touch.”

And Darren has certainly had no shortage of takers for the Trotter-themed approach. Only this week he was attending a ceremony in Crewe with the Reliant.

And recently in South Wales, almost an entire village turned out to toast the distinctive yellow coffin as it drove past.

Darren added: “When it’s my turn, I’d love to go in the Reliant.”

A survey of 2,000 adults and research among the Co-op’s 2,500 funeral directors showed a rise in a “destination funeral”, with services held in settings other than churches or crematoriums.

Sam Kershaw, operations director for the Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “What we’re seeing is a culture shift in the way that we deal with loss. It’s becoming ever more common to hear people refer to funerals as a celebration of life and that’s certainly a trend we are seeing even more frequently from the families that we support.

“As arranging a funeral is the last thing we’ll do for a person, it’s incredibly important to feel able to create a truly unique and personal tribute to their life.”

The garden, a football stadium or work? Places picked for funerals

A survey by the Co-op found almost two in four people – 37 per cent – would consider a ‘destination funeral’.

Of these, one in four wanted the service by a lake or river, one in five favoured the countryside and one in six would want the service in their home, garden or street.

As many as one in seven liked the idea of the service being conducted on a beach, while one in 25 favoured a football ground and one in 33 would like it in their local park.

One in three of its funeral directors have had a request for a funeral to take place at the deceased’s home or garden.

More than one in 10 has asked for a ceremony overseas, with one in five asking for the service to be held at their workplace.