There are lots of lovely ways to honour the life of someone who has passed away, from planting trees to dedicating memorials like park benches — and now the Forest of Dean Crematorium is offering a truly unique send off, by giving residents the chance to send their loved ones' ashes into space.
Westerleigh Group, which operates Forest of Dean Crematorium in Cinderford, has teamed up with Aura Flights to allow people to scatter their loved ones' ashes in space, using a unique 'scatter vessel' fitted to a biodegradable balloon filled with renewable hydrogen gas.
Once airborne, the balloon travels up to around 100,000 feet above earth and scatters the ashes, which then spend around three to six months orbiting the planet before they re-enter the atmosphere and help to form clouds, which then deposit raindrops and snowflakes across the world.
The memorial flights are also captured on video, so families can treasure the memory of their loved ones' final journey.
For those who want to keep their loved ones' ashes, there is also a Voyager package which sends a ceremonial portion of the person's ashes into space to the same height as the scatter launch, before returning them to Earth and supplying them to relatives in a premium miniature urn.
Forest of Dean Crematorium's manager, Hannah Giles, said: 'We are always looking to expand the range of memorial options available to the bereaved in order to give them the widest possible choice and help them to create uniquely personal memorials for their loved ones. Aura Flights offer something that is truly out of this world.
'For centuries, man has looked up at the stars and dreamed of going into space; while few of us ever get to do this during our lifetimes, there is now the option to travel into space for your final journey.
'Within days of the ashes being scattered, families will receive a personalised memorial video showing their loved one’s final journey among the stars.'
General manager of Aura Flights, Samantha Richardson, added: 'We're delighted to be partnering with Westerleigh Group to bring Aura Flights to an even bigger audience.
'From the moment we started talking about a collaboration, they saw how special a space scattering can be and their focus is always on supporting the bereaved throughout their journey, which I really admire.
'They have a wealth of experience in the industry, but they're also always looking for how to make things better - just like our team of engineers and explorers.'
To celebrate the launch, Forest of Dean Crematorium is offering 10 per cent off memorial flights booked between Monday 3 and Monday 31 July 2023, regardless of where the person's funeral took place.