Our series of conversations continues with Richard Martin founder of Scattering Ashes.
LL: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to find yourself in the death/bereavement sector?
RM: I worked in the environment world for 20 years, figuring out ways to get our neglected urban rivers in better shape, a cause I am still passionate about. After the crash of 2008 there was little to investment in this area. And I realised it was time for a change…
My father passed away when I was in my early twenties and we were left with the ashes, as my dad was a keen golfer, so it seemed right scatter his ashes at his golf club in Northamptonshire and have a bench dedicated to him. We placed the bench on the last fairway he played and scattered his ashes nearby. We weren’t prepared for it being a windy day; the plastic container from the Crematorium was cheap and ugly. We were not made to feel welcome and even less so went we wanted to return there on the anniversary of his death.
It got me thinking, this could have been so much better…
LL: How did Scattering Ashes start?
RM: With the above in my mind, I thought I would start a blog to share thoughts and ideas on how and where to scatter ashes. As time went on, people asked us for products and service, and we built the business steadily from there to responding to people’s needs and wishes.
LL: What is the main aim of Scattering Ashes
RM: Choice and feeling confident in that choice when memorialising with ashes.
LL: What have been the biggest challenges faced by Scattering Ashes to date?
RM: Like any independent business when you start have to do everything yourself from emptying bins to building websites – there is no back up. I was not from a commercial background, so it was like stepping into another world – exhilarating and daunting.
LL: What do you feel have been Scattering Ashes biggest successes to date?
RM: Our work being recognised, in broadsheets, national radio and TV feels great. However, I think it is the small successes that make the difference: we have a pin board where we put peoples thank you letters and cards. For someone to physically write to a website to thank them is special.
LL: Where would you ideally like to see Scattering Ashes in ten years’ time?
RM: We always keep an eye on the horizon seeing and try to adapt to the changing culture. We have two new arms to the business that are coming to fruition, the first is that we have entered into a partnership with the Swiss Memorial Diamond Company Algordanza to produce diamonds from ashes or hair – we share the same values – so I think it could work really well.
The second is a register where people recorded where they scattered ashes, our research showed this is an area that was being neglected and we developed a site to do this Ashes Register which we aim to make free for basic use. The site should be out of development soon and we think it will make a really positive impact.
I think these should keep us occupied for quite some time….
LL: What do you feel is the single biggest issue currently facing the death/bereavement sector?
RM: The Direct Cremation v Traditional debate. To my mind many people don’t want the full-on traditional funeral, so they think direct cremation is the answer. They think passing money to the kids is the biggest priority and British modesty ‘put me in the bin’ mantra pushes them down the direct route. They don’t realise that a funeral, for many, is essential to the grieving process for those left behind. They don’t realise there are dozens of ways to say to hold a funeral, the industry needs to get to grips with these baby-boomers to give them more choice and meaning.
LL: Which other organisation/s or people really impress you in the death/bereavement sector?
RM: So many people out there doing great work, the bereavement charities stand out me Cruse, Sands and Child Bereavement UK – I don’t know how they do it.