Alternative and special send-off for Morecambe woman who was a 'real character'

A Morecambe woman had a send-off with a difference after passing away at the young age of 60.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 9:34 am
Updated Monday, 25th January 2021, 9:38 am
Jayne Doolan with her late sister Amanda Middleton pictured in 1984 when Jayne was 26 and Amanda was 24.

Amanda Middleton died peacefully in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on December 30 from pneumonia.

She had underlying health issues and had been in The Glen nursing home in Bare for seven weeks.

Amanda's sister and next of kin Jayne Doolan decided to do something different as a special send-off.

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Jayne Doolan pictured before her sister Amanda Middleton's funeral service, with her sister's specially designed cardboard coffin.

"As my sister was a non-conformist type of person and was a real character I knew a traditional funeral was not for her," she said.

After her friend Denise Needham said 'Why don't you do it yourself?' Jayne was surprised, and yet after investigation she realised it wasn't illegal to collect a body from the mortuary and take it to the crematorium yourself, and so planning her sister's funeral began.

"I decided not to involve a funeral company and went about the whole process myself," she said.

"We had the money saved to do a full traditional funeral but wanted to honour my quirky sister with an individual send-off that was fit for her and in doing so also found it to be very cost effective."

Amanda Middleton's specially designed cardboard coffin.

"The people at the crem, mortuary and online eco-friendly coffin company have been amazing, supportive, caring and I’m astounded how easy and smoothly it’s all come together."

And so, last week, Jayne and her friends collected Amanda from the hospital mortuary in a van adorned inside with fairy lights and beautiful silks, filled with the petals from all the flowers Jayne had received from family and friends .

Her personalised cardboard coffin was decorated with cats, paw prints and a red heart on each end and she was driven to Lancaster & Morecambe Crematorium by her friends Nicky and Stan for a ceremony attended by 26 socially distanced friends and family members under the current Covid-19 restrictions.

Amanda was taken into the crem to the Drifters song 'Under the Boardwalk' before a close friend and neighbour of hers, Craigie Stewart, did a wonderful short eulogy.

Petals surrounding Amanda Middleton's specially designed cardboard coffin.

Afterwards, everyone listened to her favourite song 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA as they reflected on her life.

In the spring/summer time Jayne will have her sister’s ashes put into the ground with their mother's, Margaret Marcham/Baba, under the newly planted oak tree at the Crook O’Lune, near Woody's and the car parks.

"It’s stunning looking up Lune Valley with views of the river and Ingleborough in the distance," Jayne said.

"I’ve felt so empowered being involved with every detail and I feel I’ve honoured my wonderful sister."

Jayne and her friend Nicky now feel a calling to set up a new business venture offering people alternative choices and approaches when planning and creating a funeral for themselves or their loved ones.