A bereaved family has backed plans to install webcams in Worcester’s crematorium.
When 34-year-old IT consultant Paul Fletcher of Droitwich lost his battle with cancer at the beginning of December friends and family from as far away as America and Australia wanted to attend his funeral but were unable to get there.
We exclusively revealed last week in your Worcester News how the city council is in talks with audio equipment company Wesley Music about the possibility of installing high-definition webcams in the Astwood Road crematorium so that people who cannot get to funerals can watch the service on the internet as it happens or at another time by downloading a file.
Mr Fletcher’s mum Sue Fletcher, also of Droitwich, said: “When I told Paul’s wife Sarah about the city council’s plans she told me, ‘I feel sad because I would’ve done anything to have had that facility’.
“I told her not to beat herself up about it because it wasn’t available; it just wasn’t possible, which is sad.
“It’s not for everyone, it’s just for special circumstances and for people who can’t get there.”
Mrs Fletcher said it would have also given the family the opportunity to record the service for Mr Fletcher’s four-year-old son Jack.
She said: “If we could have recorded it Jack could have had the option of watching it at a later date.
“We have made a box for Jack with different things in it and it would have been very nice to have had a recording in there.”
One of Mr Fletcher’s uncles Derek Case, who is a managing director of a Birmingham-based firm of funeral directors, believes there is a genuine need for crematoriums to install webcams.
He said: “There’s a tremendous benefit that can come from this.”
Mr Case thought the webcam service could also help the environment because it would give people living abroad the option of not travelling.
Another uncle, who is disabled and was unable to make Mr Fletcher’s funeral on Friday, December 10, due to ill health, said he would have also benefitted from watching the service online.
The webcam idea has the backing of the church.
The Venerable Roger Morris, archdeacon of Worcester, said: “If it proved to help those who are grieving who aren’t able to make the funeral in person then it should be a good thing if managed properly.”
Alan Jeffrey, one of the directors at Wesley Music based at Kettering, Northamptonshire, which has installed the service at other crematoriums around the country, insisted the service is secure.
The main mourning party is issued with a code a few days before the service is due to take place and they are then able to pass the details on to those who want to watch online.
During the service, the cameras – one providing a general view and another focused on the speaker – are operated by buttons.
As well as being streamed live, the service can stay online for seven days. It is taken down once the main mourning party gives the go-ahead.
If Worcester City Council decides to install the system it could be up and running this summer and would cost customers £40.