UP CLOSE: Funerals in the age of coronavirus and discussing dying with loved ones

  Posted: 23.10.20 at 17:26 by Hannah Corfield

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It doesn’t get much more traditional and family-run than the Layzell’s business, which is currently in its third generation.

Nub News caught up with Paul Layzell to find out about the history of the business, Covid-secure funeral services and why creating a funeral plan is advisable.

Layzell Funeral Services - now situated at the Old Court in Honiton - and Layzells Timber and Building Supplies, which remains at the original site in Awliscombe, were founded as a joint enterprise by James ‘Roy’ Layzell on January 14 1928.

“The date is memorable as it was also his wedding day,” grandson Paul, now the funeral director, told Nub News.

“He was born in Horton near Ilminster, where he worked with his parents in their building, wheelwrights and funeral business.”

However, as one of five sons, there were too many of them in the local area so the day Roy got married he moved to Awliscombe and set up the business there.

The Ministery of Justice Crest left over from when the building was a Magistrates' Court

The funeral side of the business moved into Honiton in 2014 with the purchase of the town’s old Magistrates’ Court on Dowell Street.

“Court day in Honiton used to be every Wednesday,” Paul explained.

“It stopped being used around 2010. When we received the keys four years later, the Ministry of Justice crest was still on the wall in the court room.

“We managed to remove it and it now hangs on the wall in our meeting room.”

Funerals in the age of coronavirus

The late James ‘Roy’ Layzell who founded the Layzell's business in 1928

“The only change, albeit a major one, is the restrictions on people attending a service,” Paul said reflecting on the impact Covid has had on the business.

“When lockdown started there were only 10 people permitted to a funeral service. That was increased to 20 and is currently 30.

“It’s extremely hard for people. Especially large families or someone who is a big part of the community. It also affects those who would need to travel for a funeral.”

The crematorium is offering their live-streaming service for free under the current circumstances however church service live-streaming can be more difficult to arrange.

“It is still possible, but you need to get a private contractor in to do it. It’s not as easy to set things up in a church where internet connection tends to be poor.

Layzell Funeral Services at the Old Court on Dowell Street in Honiton

"We have managed it though, on a few occasions,” Paul added.

Discussing dying with loved ones

Given that dying is something that happens to us all, do we talk it about enough as a society?

“I don’t think we did in the past but more people are discussing it now and that’s probably to do with funeral plans,” Paul said.

Creating a funeral plan forces us to think about what will happen when we die and to discuss our wishes with loved ones.

“It’s certainly advisable to have a funeral plan” he continued.

“That’s been proven over the years, especially the Golden Charter plan, which is the gold standard within the industry. It’s different from an insurance policy; you pay for what you want and it's fixed no matter what.”

Having one in place not only provides a sense of reassurance for families, it also helps to initiate important conversations about what will happen when we die.

For more information on anything to do with funerals visit the Layzell Funeral Services website here.

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