On a rainy November morning Marian, Rita and Louise visited Cherry Tree Pet Crematorium in Bethersden. We were welcomed by David and Sheila Funnell, into a very cosy and comfortable reception room with a fire, many photos and a large display of available caskets. This is where owners are taken to discuss their needs for pets who have sadly died.
The adjacent room is set aside for a quiet time and this allows owners to say their last goodbyes to their pets (there was background music playing, comfortable chairs and a large box of tissues) and owners can stay there for as long as they need to.
In David and Sheila’s office, there is a state of the art computer system, which tracks all cremations from collection to the ashes being handed over to either the veterinary surgery or the owner. It also allows them to see which one of the four drivers is closest to any necessary destination or emergency to avoid any delay in responding to calls.
David & Sheila have been operating for 20 years, the first seven years they worked from their home in Kingsnorth, collecting horses and ponies in vans and delivering them to crematoriums in Kent and Essex. Then 13 years ago they were fortunate enough to purchase a field in Bethersden and started putting plans in place for the crematorium. They had a lot of opposition from local people, planners and environmental agents who all assumed the worst but eventually with their perseverance and determination they have overcome the problems. When the crematorium was opened David & Sheila then extended all of their services to include small animals as well as horses and ponies.
David took us into the barn where the cremations are carried out, there is a large cremator which is used for horses and two smaller ones used for dogs, cats, and small furries. The barn was spotlessly clean and extremely well organised, the whole procedure right up to the ashes being put into a casket is carried out in there including the engraving of the plaques. Whether the owner opts for an individual or a communal cremation the pet is treated with the greatest respect. They even save some of the ashes from a communal cremation in case the owner feels they have made a mistake by not asking for anything back, at a later date. The ashes from communal cremations are scattered on David’s paddocks at the property.
We all came to the same conclusion following our visit which was that David and Sheila Funnell’s main aim is to reassure owners their pets are of great importance and are treated with respect at all times., Their attention to detail and owner’s individuality is paramount and it was obvious they have a strong passion for what they do and get a great deal of satisfaction from giving a first class service. By coincidence Rita’s daughter’s dog Rusty had to be put down that day and an individual cremation was requested. Having visited the crematorium, Rita was able to reassure her daughter of the care and attention that Rusty would receive while in David and Sheila’s hands.