LUCY Jane has a simple philosophy for running her Oxford funeral business: “Nothing’s too silly that you can’t ask.”
The 32-year-old’s approach has led to her being nominated as Funeral Director of the Year in a national industry awards less than a year after she opened her doors as The Individual Funeral Company in Rose Hill.
“There’s been a general change,” she said of the funeral industry, in which she has worked for 12 years.
“It doesn’t have to be this dark, horrible, traditional thing anymore.”
Ms Jane, who offers a bespoke service rather than one-size fits all, said most of her clients opt for coloured cardboard coffins, or others made from bamboo, banana leaf or wicker, rather than the orthodox wood casket.
People are becoming less afraid to ask for personal touches, she added.
It is not uncommon for the deceased to be buried with day-to-day items in their pockets, like cigarettes, whisky bottles or mints, in a contemporary twist on the habit of Egyptian pharaohs of taking belongings with them to the afterlife.
Before starting her own business, Ms Jane’s eye for the unorthodox was honed while working for Motorcyle Funerals, which specialises in providing a hearse as a side-car attached to a motorbike.
“I used to go up and down the country taking people for their last rides,” said Ms Jane, who was based in Oxford at the time.
Ms Jane was inspired to work with dead people after observing the passion her mother, Suzie Jane, had for her job as a hospital mortuary manager.
“Mum gave me some advice on my first day,” she said. “It’s not your grief to have, it’s somebody else’s.”
At 19 she began working in the funeral industry with the Co-operative Funeralcare, in Cowley, before moving on to Motorcyle Funerals.
Ms Jane, who is single, was spurred on to set up her own business, which she opened in September 2013 in the belief people in Oxford were not being offered enough choice for something different in their funeral.
“We ask them questions as opposed to telling them what they’re going to have.”
Her mother helps wash and dress the bodies, while her sister, Hannah Jane, assists in the reception and her brother, Guy Jane, a builder, maintains the office building.
The Good Funeral Awards organiser, Charles Cowling, of Redditch, said Ms Jane received 10 nominations from clients and industry peers. “They regard her as being extremely passionate and she has sufficient business sense,” he added.
Ms Jane is up against nine other nominees for the main award.
There are 15 categories in all, including Embalmer of the Year, Florist of the Year and Gravedigger of the Year.
The awards, to be held on September 6 in Bournville and now in their third year, are renowned for their light-hearted approach to death.
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
Our top stories
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
8:30am Monday 6th July 2015
SISTER Frances Dominica has yet to rule out returning to the hospices she founded despite being asked to leave following historical sexual abuse allegations, her lawyer has said.
7:39pm Monday 6th July 2015
HOSPITAL porters have voted in favour of strike action in a row over pay and conditions.
5:44pm Monday 6th July 2015
AN OXFORD man is wanted by police on suspicion of breaching the terms of his release.
4:19pm Monday 6th July 2015
A THIRD A400M Atlas aircraft landed at RAF Brize Norton last night after being delivered from an assembly plant in Seville, Spain.
3:49pm Monday 6th July 2015
A WOMAN accused of trying to murder an elderly hospital patient has been granted bail until she stands trial in October.
3:04pm Monday 6th July 2015
RAIL services have returned to normal between Oxford and London Paddington.