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Special Memories for Donna


Colourful Coffins and bereavement specialist minister, the Rev George Callander, joined forces to make a final farewell to a much-loved mother very special for one family.

The lady, whose name was Margaret Lancaster, died recently, leaving behind her learning disabled daughter, Donna, who lives in a care home in Northumberland.

Mr Callander, who is the Minister of the Open Free Church, Durham and also the director of the Society of Bereavement Practitioners, conducted Margaret’s funeral and then asked Mary Tomes for a memory bear which he could present to Donna to help keep her mother’s memory safe.

“Donna didn’t really understand what was happening at the funeral, so we arranged to hold a special service for the scattering of her mother’s ashes the following day at the care home where she lives,” said Mr Callander.

He explained that as Donna’s father had already passed away, her only surviving relative was an uncle, Chris Fearon from Canada, who flew over especially for the service with his wife Margaret, and helped choose some keepsakes and photographs to put inside the memory bear.

“I wanted to make the service special and giving Donna a memory bear to hold with some of her mother’s belongings was key to transforming her loss,” said Mr Callander.  “I told her that when she is lonely and sad, she can remember that there are memories of her mum inside the bear and she can give it a cuddle.

“It was lovely, she took to the bear straight away, she put it on her bed and I’m told she talks to it and that it has really helped her come to terms with what has happened.  It brought so much comfort to her and her friends and I can’t thank Mary and the team enough for all the wonderful work they do.”

Mary Tomes, managing director of Colourful Coffins, said:  “When George told us about Donna, we were only too happy to help by donating a memory bear.  We always have the most wonderful feedback from families when they have a bear to cuddle and hearing how we helped Donna made this occasion even more special.”

The second service, which included scattering Margaret’s ashes under an evergreen tree specially planted in her memory, also saw three very special balloons released – one for Donna, one for her family, and one for her family at the care home.

It was also an opportunity for Donna to share her final farewell with friends at the home, where Margaret was a familiar visitor at least twice a week and was well known to all the residents.

Mr Callander also thanked Gareth Wall from W S Harrison & Son Funeral Directors of Newcastle for his sensitive help and support at both of the services.