The South Downs Natural Burial Site at the Sustainability Centre in East Meon, Hampshire, has been awarded Best Natural Burial Ground in the UK.
Lucy Siegle, writer, author and presenter for the BBC’s ‘The One Show’, presented the award to site manager Al Blake, who said: “We are, of course, elated and also rather humbled by this award. It is a testament to all the dedication, hard work and commitment by the team.
Our aim is to allow our families as much time as they need and the freedom to do whatever they choose to do – be it conventional or otherwise – and to guide and support them through that process.” Lucy commented: “This award says thank you to South Downs Natural Burial Site for going above and beyond to create a burial site that is truly peaceful and authentically natural.
“I was frequently moved to tears reading the submissions and comments from bereaved families who have buried a loved one here. But it is clear that Al Blake and his team have the necessary knowledge, compassion and commitment to support families and friends properly (and again, authentically). Crucially they understand the part the natural world plays in death and life.
Outstanding.” The People’s Awards 2013, which are all about recognising the personal service received and the impact that the managers or owners had on the bereaved families they helped, were decided by over 1,000 members of the public who had buried a family member in a natural burial ground in the UK.
Their written accounts of the service they had received were scrutinised by the Natural Death Centre before the winners were selected.