Live-stream service provides solace for grieving families in Wigan

Wigan Crematorium
Wigan Crematorium

Webcasts and on-demand services are usually associated with key public events or for catching up with favourite TV shows.

But a new streaming service offered by Wigan town hall is providing solace for families in the most private and tragic of circumstances.

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For the first time, mourners who are not able to attend a Wigan cremation service in person can opt to watch proceedings via webcast.

A high definition camera system has been installed at Wigan Crematorium meaning ceremonies can be accessed anywhere in the world using a personal passcode provided for relatives of the deceased.

It can, according to the council’s bereavement services manager Andy Bond, provide a degree of comfort in trying circumstances.

Relatives who live abroad or are not able to physically attend the service for health reasons no longer miss out.

And it can also serve a purpose for grieving communities.

Mr Bond said: “We have had examples in recent years of a young person tragically passing away and Wigan Crematorium only has seating for 65 and we’ve had to put extra speakers up and sit people just outside the hall.

“This way a service could be broadcast to a school year group, for example. It opens up different opportunities.”

Only a handful of families have requested the webcast since it was introduced last year following a successful trial period.

But Mr Bond says it usually takes 12 months for new services to be chosen on a more regular basis.

The £32 charge has been included in the council budget’s list of fees and charges for the first time in 2019/20.

More expensive packages also include a watch-again for 28 days option, plus having the service copied onto DVD, BluRay or USB for posterity.

Families who opt for the webcast option are provided with a personal access code with security and privacy a vital consideration, the town hall said.

The high-definition camera that captures the services is positioned at the back of the chamber with mourners able to sit out of its view if they choose.

“It’s an added extra that complements everything else we offer here in Wigan,” Mr Bond added.

“We’re the only council as far as I know that offers a visual tribute package of photos that can be part of the ceremony on our plasma screens, free of charge.

“The crematorium is a fairly old building but we have invested in the best technology and upgraded our facilities.

“We’re trying to keep up with the times, giving our residents the best service we can provide within the confines we’ve got.”