Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Crematorium Open Day
Crematorium Open Day

The Isle of Wight Crematorium was built in 1961 and officially opened the same year by the Bishop of Portsmouth the Rt Rev. J H. L. Phillips. In its first year of opening 308 cremations where undertaken. Since then the number of cremations carried out each year has steadily risen to an average of 1400 cremations a year. 63,000 cremations having been carried out since the crematorium opened.

The crematorium is situated in 10 acres of both formal and woodland grounds offering a beautiful and tranquil place for funeral services and for people visiting the crematorium to pay respects to loved ones.

Every year the crematorium opens up it doors for one day allowing unrestricted access to all areas of the crematorium. This gives people a chance to meet the friendly and knowledgeable staff who are able answer the many questions asked about the crematorium and the cremation process. Feed back obtained from previous years’ open days has shown that visiting and talking with staff has helped the many visitors who have attended these events. Many myths and anxieties people have about the cremation process have been dispelled and resolved.

This year the Isle of Wight crematorium celebrated a landmark anniversary of 50 years of serving its island on 21st August. To mark the occasion Bereavement Services felt it appropriate to support the local Earl Mountbatten Hospice and set themselves a target of raising £1000.

Other Bereavement Support groups working on the island, both professional and voluntary, were invited to attend the day. This enabled visitors to gain an awareness of the help and support available at times of bereavement.

Many organisations and business where approached and asked to support and sponsor the event and 33 individual sponsors rose to the challenge.

The day commenced with an official opening by the Chairman of the Isle of Wight Council, Councillor David Williams.

The day consisted of a wide range of activities taking place, including:
• Guided tours of the crematorium
• Stone masonry demonstrations
• Meeting local Funeral Directors
• Horse drawn hearse displays
• Meeting local Cemetery Friends Groups
• Meeting Voluntary Bereavement groups,

Entertainment throughout the day was provided by the VoxPop Choir, Wight Diamonds Marching band and Hand Bell Ringers.
Various other attractions on display throughout the day included, classic bike and Scooter displays, Flower arranging demonstrations, Art and Card making sessions, Wildlife tours, guess the number of balloons in the limousine, a tom bola and refreshments. Ryde Social Heritage Group had an exhibition about Ryde Cemetery and the history of Ryde as well as some memory boards. We were very pleased that people came to speak to us and added to our memory bank on the day.

The activities concluded with a charity auction, with items donated from many organisations and businesses supporting the day.

Finally the 50th Anniversary celebration ended with a dedication and memorial service led by the Rev Graham Morris in memory of all those we have lost. As part of the service a dedicated balloon release, in memory of individual loved ones was held within the crematorium grounds. As the sun was setting after a beautiful sunny day this was a fitting ending to the day. The Chairman of the Isle of Wight Council Councillor David Williams gave a closing address thanking all those involved.

The day was a huge success with over 400 visitors who kindly and generously donated the grand sum of £1298.00 for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.

Crematorium staff would like to thank all those organisations, businesses and visitors that supported the day as without their generosity, the event would not have been possible and a great success.

Words & photographs contributed by IW Bereavement Services.