FUNERAL directors from outwith the Borders have expressed an interest in using the region’s first crematorium which opened next to Waird’s Cemetery at Melrose on Tuesday.
Adrian Britton, operations director of the Bristol-based Westerleigh Group, confirmed the company had been contacted by firms both within and outwith the Borders.
He told us: “We’ve had enquiries from as far as south as Seahouses and many from Edinburgh, as well as across the length and breadth of the Borders, from Peebles and Langholm to the Berwickshire coast.”
His firm, the second largest private operator in the UK, is planning an official opening ceremony and dedication service in the spring.
Mr Britton explained: “The facility is very much up and running and six cremations took place on our opening day, but we want to improve the landscaping before the crematorium is formally opened.
“However, the level of interest is very satisfying and is, I believe, a vindication of our proposals which had their fair share of controversy when the site was first selected and before Scottish Borders Council gave us planning permission.
“We have since had very positive feedback that the location in the lee of the Eildon Hills is much more discreet that many people imagined and can hardly been seen from the Melrose bypass.”
Mr Britton praised the support the project had received from the council, in particular its leader and Melrose representative David Parker.
He told us: “I know Mr Parker shares my view that a crematorium in the Borders has been long overdue and that the situation of grieving families having to travel outwith the region, principally to Edinburgh, has not been ideal.
“My company has been looking to find a site here for nearly 20 years, so I am immensely relieved that not only is the facility now operating, it is also one of the most beautiful in the country.”
Mr Britton said that main contractors, Earlston-based Border Construction, had done a magnificent job and had ensured that sub-contracting work, also of the highest quality, had gone to local companies. The manager of the Borders Crematorium, which has 98 seats and 76 parking spaces, is George Bell, a former head of bereavement services with Edinburgh City Council.
Councillor Parker commented: “It has been a long time coming, but at last people in the Borders can be spared the trauma and inconvenience of having to travel out of the region to say farewell to a loved one. It is a very special place.”
Any reader wishing to know more about the facilities, can contact Mr Bell on 01896 823357.