Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan recently revisited the award-winning Chiltern Woodland Burial Park to see the development of a growing trend first hand.
With demand increasing for more personal funerals, the MP for Chesham and Amersham called at the park on 23 November to learn more about the burial ground and its counterparts at Epping Forest in Essex and Colney in Norfolk – which all have Green Flag awards for parks and green spaces – and the service they provide.
The 72-acre woodland cemetery, which is one of three sites making up GreenAcres Woodland Burials, was opened in 2009 and is accessible to all, 365 days a year.
“I was fortunate enough to attend the official opening of Chiltern Woodland Burial Park, so it’s a real pleasure to come back and see how well the woodland is being managed,” said the MP.
“This is one of the most beautiful and peaceful parts of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it is good that this woodland is being preserved for future generations.
“It’s wonderful to see so many species of wildlife here and an increasing level of biodiversity in the woodland. The fact that local community groups and schools make use of the space makes it a real asset to the area,” she added.
While visiting the site, Ms Gillan had the opportunity to discuss the various options available to families looking for a final resting place, and commented: “I was pleased to hear that there is a wide variety of choices people can make when planning a funeral, so I was interested to learn about the options for a woodland burial, which are designed to make these accessible to people from all walks of life and all budgets.
“It was good to have the chance to meet Mr Paling and his team and to hear how they are providing a caring service to families at such a sad time in their lives.”
Andy Paling, who is managing director of the park, added: “We are very proud of our work at all of our GreenAcres Woodland Burial Parks, so it was a pleasure to be able to share both our ethos and our achievements with Ms Gillan.
“We feel we have a responsibility to open up this beautiful woodland to the public and also preserve it for future generations. It’s a peaceful place to come and reflect; and is certainly seen as less threatening for many of the younger visitors and children who come to visit.”
Image: (L-R) Kate Harris, manager of Chiltern Woodland Burial Park; Andy Palling, managing director for GreenAcres Group; and MP Cheryl Gillan with the Green Flag award.