People and mourners alike continue to look for new and innovative ways to memorialise either themselves or their loved ones who have passed. At a time when ashes are being put into vinyl records or sent for a trip to space, the sector will only continue to see increasing demands for alternative memorials and more options become available.
One company which has been offering an alternative since 2016 is Memorial Trees, established when founder Diederik’s wife Jose was underwhelmed by the memorial options at a crematorium near Maastricht, Netherlands. The ceramicist had some interaction with the funeral sector and shortly after coming up with the idea of the trees, passed away leaving a legacy for her husband. “Ever since then he’s been very, very busy in the Netherlands, I’m a family friend and I’m now working for him,” says Marko Dakin, UK co-ordinator for the company. “I’m responsible for the UK and Ireland, Italy and France.”
The company has grown since its first installation two years ago at the Walpot crematorium in the Netherlands, with a total of 13 trees in the country. The concept has since been brought to the UK where April saw the first installation at the Lincoln crematorium, Lincolnshire in partnership with The City of Lincoln BereavementServices. The company also installed a tree in Ireland at the Colliers Funeral Directors in Bray in May.
Based on Jose’s drawings, the trees are laser cut and welded by a steel company based in the Netherlands called Tosek who also transport it to the crematoria and cemeteries which purchase them. For its UK’s operations, a Derbyshire steel company – AK Bryan – handles the production of the trees and UK contractors Greenacre and Gem precast take care of the foundation and installation. Although Jose’s choice for the memorial objects to be a tree is not explicitly known, Dakin notes that, in general, trees are known to “symbolise life and renewal”. Aside from that, despite clearly being made from COR-TEN weathering steel, Dakin states that the memorial trees fit nicely into a natural setting, making them appear seamless at grave sites and crematoria amongst the existing nature.