Light a Candle 2021

Light a Candle 2021

We want to invite all our clients, together with their families and friends, to remember the people they miss at special ‘Light a Candle’ gatherings during the next few months. Each branch will open a local venue so that you can drop in, give thanks for your loved one, and light a candle in their memory. Details of Light a Candle events, locations and times can be found below.

The annual Light a Candle services, held by the various branches of the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group, have always been such an important part of our work. They’re an opportunity for the staff in our branches to invite the bereaved families and friends they have served while arranging funerals to gather together and remember the people they miss most. Each one is a chance to remember, reflect, and light a candle.

Life can be so very busy and many of our clients, who often become our friends, greatly appreciate these opportunities to remember the ones they miss. However, thanks to Covid, the 2020 services were replaced by a single ceremony, which was streamed online and can still be seen on our YouTube channel. While it was a helpful alternative, it was nowhere near as good as the usual services in a local church and the physical action of lighting a real candle in a real place.

However, we’re all painfully aware that we’re not out of the woods yet. Covid is still with us, and many people continue to feel uncomfortable in large public gatherings. So, the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group have made the decision to do things a little differently in 2021, but still give everyone the chance to light a candle.

Each Hunnaball branch is partnering with a local church or venue, to open a space for a few hours so that people can drop in when they’re ready, to give thanks, remember, and light a candle for their loved one. In this way, everyone can remain socially distanced and wear masks if they want to. It is an opportunity, not only for our own clients, but for anyone who has lost a family member or friend and would like to remember them.

We think that after the Covid pandemic it’s even more important that we give real opportunities to Light a Candle.

Venues will be hosted by members of our amazing team, who will be happy to talk and give direction. In many cases, these will be the people who served you, so it is a chance to remake acquaintances and chat to old friends. There might also be a member of the local community to talk to and pray with, if needed.

We truly hope that these Light a Candle days will be helpful, helping many to remember and give thanks in a meaningful way. We hope to see you there.

If you want to know more, please talk to your local branch.

Light a Candle days                                  

Ipswich branches (Dove House and Spring Road)

Saturday 16th October 2021, 10am – 2pm

Venue – St Mary and St Botolph Church, Church Lane, Whitton, Ipswich, IP1 6LT

Chelmsford branch

Saturday 6th November 2021, 10am – 2pm

Venue – St Mary’s Church, London Road, Widford, Chelmsford, CM2 8TE

Braintree branch (Janet C Davies)

This event will take the form of a service of remembrance.

Sunday 7th November 2021, Service begins at 3pm

Venue – St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Bocking, CM7 5JY

Manningtree branch (Geo. Paskell of Manningtree)

Saturday 13th November 2021, 10am – Noon

Venue – St Mary's Church, Church Hill, Lawford, CO11 2JX

West Mersea branch (JK May of West Mersea)

Saturday 20th November, 10am – 12noon

Venue – West Mersea Free Church, 32 Mill Road, West Mersea, CO5 8RJ

Colchester branch

Saturday 20th November, 11am – 1pm

Venue – St James the Great, East Hill, Colchester, CO1 2QL


Sow With Love

Sow With Love

We think of ourselves as one family helping another during some of the most challenging times any family will face. We want to give families the very best care and support we can, and a part of that is to offer them choices to help make the funeral service for their loved one special to them, their family, and their friends. We partner with a number of businesses to help us give more choice to those we serve; before, during, and after the funeral service itself.

Sow with Love is one of those businesses. Company founder, Lisa Bass, offers families bespoke packets of flower seeds to be sown in memory of their loved one.

Lisa writes;

“When I lost my own father, I wanted to do something different to give my family and friends the opportunity to remember him in a special way. After all, he was a special man. But I couldn’t find what I was looking for and, after doing some research, I put together individual packets of flower seeds in his memory to give to everyone who came to the funeral. I thought that they could all sow the seeds in his memory and remember him every time they saw the flowers bloom.

“It worked really well and my idea was so well received that I decided it was something that might help other families in their time of grief. So, I set up my business, Sow with Love, to provide families with unique packets of seed to use at the funeral of their loved one and help them remember and commemorate in this special way.

“The seeds are usually chosen by families because the flowers were a favourite of their loved one, and each packet is personalised. They can be different colours and decorated with ribbons and in other ways too. The outside of each packet is printed with an appropriate wording, to make them unique to the situation and remind everyone of the person they are remembering. Often, the family choose a phrase which was a favourite and will remind everyone of the person they are meeting together to remember and commemorate.

“For me, it’s really important that the choice of seed, packet, decoration, and wording is completely up to the family. Then we can help them remember the happy times on their difficult day and enjoy their special memories as their lives go on.”

To find out more about Sow with Love, you can talk to your funeral arranger, visit Lisa’s Facebook page @sowwithlove, or email her on [email protected]

Chelsea the embalmer

Chelsea the Embalmer

Chelsea works as an embalmer at the Gate House, our operations centre. She does amazing work. In her spare-time she volunteers with Clacton Lifeboats, driving the machinery which launches the boats and bring them out of the water. We thought it would be interesting to offer an insight into the important work she does.

"I’ve been working as an embalmer for the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group for over 7 years. I joined when I was just 17 for work experience and liked it so much that I stayed on. I had originally wanted to be a paramedic, but when I started this work something clicked and I knew it was what I wanted to do.

"After 2 years of training with a member of the British institute of Embalmers, I passed all of my exams and qualified as an MBIE (Member of the British Institute of Embalmers) in May 2018.

"My job is to look after the loved ones of families while they are in our care, and I have such a passion for it. I make them look presentable and peaceful, ready for a chapel visit (if that is what the family want) and the funeral. It involves applying cosmetics, washing and styling hair, shaving and cleansing and painting nails, dressing them into their chosen clothing (or an ivory gown) and placing them neatly into their coffin.

"The embalming process is important for other reasons too. It slows the natural deterioration that takes place after death and is an important part of health and safety. This sounds a bit dark, but it’s so important to help families see their loved one at their best, and funerals don’t always happen quickly. During the pandemic, when there were such a huge number of deaths, embalming was really important because funerals were delayed.

"Some people think that my role is morbid and depressing, but it’s not. I love the job I do here at Hunnaball, and it helps so many people. It’s very rewarding to be entrusted with someone’s loved one, and to present them for their chapel visit or funeral. It also makes me proud to be working with a company that provides such a caring and excellent service. I’m fulfilling my dream and providing the best care and dignity I can for families and their loved ones.

"Occasionally I meet the families face to face, and some are shocked that I’m both young and female. They’re so grateful that I’m able to make their loved one look like they were before they were ill. Things have changed a lot since back in the 1900’s, when the majority of people working in the funeral industry were men. I’m thankful that I work in a place where women and men are given equal opportunities to reach their potential.

"Going forward, I really hope to continue in my role, providing families with lasting memories of their loved ones at peace."

To find out more about the things that we do, please take a look at our homepage.

Dying Matters Awareness Week 2021

Dying Matters Awareness Week 10th to 16th May 2021

This year, to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, of which we are long term supporters, we've created a help sheet aimed at helping people to talk to their friends and family about their wishes in the event of their death. It isn't always easy to start a conversation about death or dying, but it's a natural part of life, and, as with so many things, being able to talk about it can be a great comfort.

‘Let’s Talk About Death’ is a series of simple suggestions to facilitate discussions between family members and friends. These are designed to help people to tackle this potentially difficult subject with more ease, well before it is needed.

Download our fact sheet here: Let's Talk About Death - May 2021

This year has really focused our national thinking on how precious, but also how unpredictable, life can be. Many of us give no thought at all to how we would wish our lives to be commemorated – and that’s fine, except that it can leave friends and relatives with a dilemma as to what their loved one might have wanted. During Dying Matters Awareness Week, we are all encouraged to talk more about death as a natural part of life. That can be very healthy, but it can be difficult to get started.

In some cultures, mentioning death is something of a taboo, but we have found that once people get talking, they gain enormous peace of mind in letting others know their wishes in advance. For example, most of us have a favourite song, poem, or scriptural reading that we would like to have played or read at our funeral. Many people now express a preference for not having everyone wearing black at their funeral. It is helpful to record this. Our handy document, My Funeral Wishes, is a really good place to start.

We felt it was time to facilitate these sorts of conversations more easily.

Of course, the ultimate in planning ahead is a pre-paid funeral plan, which more and more people are opting for. This allows them both a degree of self-determination and a strong measure of peace of mind. Many feel that they have lifted the burden from their loved ones at an extremely difficult time. Hunnaball Family Funeral Group offers a range of options for pre-paid funeral plans for this reason.

Our hope is that just reading through the sheet will take some of the sting out of the issue and help people to talk more freely. If just one conversation is facilitated, that will be excellent.

There are also some excellent resources on the Dying Matters website.

We particularly love this leaflet; Things to do before you die.

Our friends at Compassionate Communities are also taking part:

You can find out more about events for Dying Matters Week here in Essex via these links:  


Cremated remains... what next?

Cremated remains... what next?

We’re often asked about what happens to cremated remains following a funeral service.

We are very lucky to work with some excellent crematoriums and their professional staff, who treat every loved one with whom they deal with dignity and great care. They make sure that, after the cremation, the remains are very carefully gathered together and placed in a receptacle to await collection.

Sometimes families will pre-arrange for the remains to be scattered or interred at the crematorium itself, in which case the crematorium staff will do exactly that in a dignified and respectful manner. But many families request that their loved one’s cremated remains are picked up by our staff and returned to the branch office from which the service was arranged.

At the branch, all cremated remains are moved into the Sanctuary, our designated area specifically reserved for their respectful and safe storage. The branch staff will then call the family, or next of kin, and inform them that their loved one is ready to be picked up at their convenience.

We understand that for a great many people, picking up the ashes of their loved one is a significant event and can be challenging. Subsequently, it can take a while to prepare oneself, so we make clear that we’re more than happy to look after their loved one’s until they’re ready.

Some families, however, when the funeral is over, never manage to get round to dealing with their loved ones’ remains. In cases like these, we continue to look after the remains in our sanctuary. Some have been with us for years, as a result. For example, in our Colchester branch we have cremated remains which date from 1984 (the year we started the business).  Eventually, even these remains will need to be respectfully scattered or interred.

Once a family picks up the cremated remains, or gives instructions, there are lots of options, and all of our branches are very happy to discuss the possibilities and help to make them a reality.

Traditional scattering or interment – Ashes can be scattered with or without ceremony, at a location of choice. Many families will deal with scattering on their own behalf, but permission is usually necessary. In most other cases we will work with them to organise things. For example, there might be a church or graveyard where your loved one can be reunited with those who have died before them. We are very happy to help arrange for a suitable celebrant, minister, or priest, or even for one our professional funeral directors to serve you in that manner. If a more permanent memorial is required, or even an alteration to an existing one, the Hunnaball Memorial Department can advise and help.

Keeping your loved one – For some families, keeping the cremated remains of their loved one at home is an important part of their grieving process, often until some future date. Our branches can help in choosing and supplying a suitable urn or receptacle. There are other options too, with keepsakes such as paperweights, jewellery, and the like, which have become increasingly popular. We offer a wide range of urn and keepsake options.

Creative scattering – For those who want to do something different, there are any number of creative solutions with which to honour the memory of your loved one. There is the possibility of incorporating the cremated remains into a firework, floating the remains out to sea, and any number of other interesting and alternative ideas. Simply talk to someone in our branches and they will be very happy to help. 

You can leave it to us – We understand that some families simply find it too painful to deal with cremated remains. Please don’t worry about this; we are willing to scatter or bury the cremated remains on your behalf, with dignity and respect, so your loved one has an appropriate final resting place.

It is up to you - Of course, what happens to cremated remains is completely at the discretion of the loved ones or next of kin. No matter what happens next, cremated remains are always treated with the same respect, dignity, and care as any of those who are placed into our hands for safekeeping.

We understand that every person is loved and missed, and so we honour them as if they are our own family. To us, that is what being a family funeral director is all about.

If you have any further questions then please take the time to explore our website, or talk to your local branch.

Catch up with our latest news

Catch up with our latest news

It's been a busy few months for the team at Hunnaball Family Family Group, and they have all been absolute stars. Here's the latest news about them.

The National Day of Reflection - 23rd March 2021

The National Day of Reflection

The 23rd March 2021 is the first anniversary of the first COVID national lockdown, and it will be marked as a National Day of Reflection.

Our friends at Marie Curie are asking us all to mark the day by doing three very simple things. Reflect, Connect, and Support.

Reflect – At noon on Tuesday 23rd March, observe a minute of silence, wherever you are. Reflect on what has happened in the last year and think about those who have been affected by this awful pandemic. If you are a person of faith, lift a prayer. You might also like to light a candle at 8pm and put it in your window, as a way to share your contemplation with other people.

Connect – Make the time and effort on Tuesday to reach out to someone who you know who is going through bereavement. Let them know that they are not alone. Perhaps you could send flowers or a card. You could simply give them a call and make a connection.

Support – In this time of social distancing, it is hard to show support in a way that is responsible and safe. Marie Curie suggest making a poster to put up in your window, so the people walking by will see a visible symbol of your support. Lighting a candle at 8pm and putting it in the window will also give a visible sign to share with others.

Whatever happens, and whatever your circumstances, we would ask that you join us in finding some way to mark the National Day of Remembrance.

Please join the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group as we remember those who are grieving from the events of the last twelve months. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. And follow the link to Marie Curie and find out more


And the winners are... the whole team!

And the winners are... the whole team!

Hunnaball staff awards 2021

Usually, during the Spring, the staff and directors of the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group (or the Hunnaball work family, as we've come to call them) gather together for a celebration of the work and achievements of the previous year. It's an opportunity for all of us to eat, laugh, have a bit of fun. We also present awards to members of the team and celebrate their achievements... and we love it.

Even Funeral Directors need to relax and it's is one of the highlights of our year.

But this year, COVID has ruined that too.

2020 was a year when all of the Hunnaball work family worked harder than ever, under more restrictions than ever, and with more challenges than ever... and we can't even celebrate their contributions.

They have all been amazing. The first responders, office staff, arrangers, funeral directors, area managers, stonemasons, memorial fitters, maintenance staff, embalmers, company directors, and everyone else in the Hunnaball work family... All of them have done an incredible job, under very difficult circumstances, to serve their clients with the same diligence, care and attention to detail as they always have.

So, this year, the award for Outstanding Contribution goes to... all of them.

There's no way we can pick out any individual this year, because every single member of the team has gone way above and beyond anything we might expect from them. Thank you!

And so, because we couldn't gather for a meal, we used the budget for the party to buy each member of staff a special Spring Hamper of goodies from The Wine Centre in Great Hawksley. It's not quite a meal, but it is something out of the ordinary as a heartfelt thanks for them to share with their families and loved ones.

Let's hope that 2021 carries on improving, and that next year we will be able to gather together once more, in person, to eat, drink and celebrate one another's contributions.

Our Witham team spreads a little sunshine

Our Witham team spreads a little sunshine

Due to the pandemic, it’s been frustrating for our teams not to be able to have our usual open-door policy to greet clients and former clients who have become friends. So many become regular supporters of 'Name a Star' and 'Light a Candle', and it has been sad not to be able to stay in touch more regularly and in person. Our Witham team have really taken this to heart and set about thinking what they could do, both to let the local community know that we’re thinking of them, and to show appreciation for those looking after some of our more vulnerable citizens.

So, it was with great pleasure recently, that our Area Manager, Bonnie Beck, and Funeral Arranger and Group Funeral Plan Coordinator, Sarah Dewey, delivered some much-needed good cheer, from our Witham branch office to the staff at Park View Care Home. Bonnie and Sarah put together some very thoughtful wellbeing bags, full of items to help these caring heroes to de-stress and relax after work.

The ladies delivered bath bombs, shower gels, make-up remover pads and other small pampering treats to the Park View team, who do so much to care for their residents at the best of times, and have gone way beyond the extra mile during this difficult COVID-19 season.

The team at Park View were delighted with this lovely and unexpected gesture of support when Bonnie and Sarah went along to deliver their goody bags, observing safe distancing carefully throughout their brief visit.

Bonnie and Sarah have more plans to spread a little happiness, devising treats and puzzles, to let local care home residents know that we are thinking of them, and to keep them intellectually occupied for a while! We’re hoping that they will be able to deliver these shortly, and that it will turn out to be a pilot project that can reach out further.

Our Witham team can be found at Old Bank House, 95 Newland Street, Witham, Essex CM8 1YZ.
You can call them on 01376 511592.

Making the most of flowers

Making the most of flowers

Sheila Nunn is the proprietor of Elizabethan Flowers in Ipswich, and the recommended florist for both branches of Hunnaball of Ipswich. She's worked with the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group for longer than any other florist, clocking up over 22 years, and we think she does absolutely lovely work.

She told us how the partnership began and why it continues to work so well.

“Having worked in the banking industry for 15 years, I decided to change career when my children were small. I was already an enthusiastic ‘flower arranger’, but I enrolled at Otley college to train to be a professional florist.

"In 1999, after completing my course, I delivered a floral tribute to the Dove House branch of Hunnaball of Ipswich. It was lovely, because the lady who worked there was so enthusiastic in her admiration. When I asked her who usually did their flowers, she told me that they used a florist in Colchester, so I decided to contact the head office and see if I could be of service to them as a more local florist. Melanie Hunnaball and I hit it off immediately, and I can honestly say that she was responsible for encouraging me to specialise in funeral flowers, and I've never regretted it.

"I've been their florist since then, and the girls at both branches of Hunnaball of Ipswich, Dove House and Spring Road, are lovely. We have a great working relationship and we try hard to help and support each other. Usually, the client will choose flowers from the brochure and their order will be sent to me to fulfil. Sometimes, however, families have special requests and I will talk to them and, between us, make sure that the flowers are perfect for the funeral of their loved one. Communication is so important.

"Over the years, I've noticed that clients have become more focused in what they want. They choose to have just one spray for the coffin top more often, rather than numerous small tributes, and I'm always happy to help. If I'm asked, I often recommend roses, because they look beautiful, come in such a lovely variety of colours, and can be enjoyed by families after the service too. My own favourite flower, however, are green bloom chrysanthemums, because I had them for my wedding.

"Like Hunnaball, I will only accept the best. I feel that if a job's worth doing it’s worth doing well. I'm so lucky to have a great wholesaler, who does his best to get me everything I want, delivered fresh, every day, from the Dutch auctions; although it’s been difficult with the challenges of both COVID and Brexit, which have caused the prices of flowers to increase every week. Very sadly, a number of growers have even gone out of business as a result of the pandemic, but we're still able to supply lovely flowers, which we know help to make a sad day just a little bit brighter.

"Floristry is certainly a job of passion, and sometimes I think I should retire. But not for long, because I soon realise just how much I’d miss the job, and the people.”

We know that flowers play such an important part in commemorating a loved one. All of our branch teams are more than happy to discuss flowers with clients, and have access to local florists who are excellent at what they do. Sheila, however, is very special and we love working with her, and hope to continue to do so for years to come.