Kate Dyer and Kate Tym, who together are Kate and Kate Celebrants, were thrilled to win Funeral Celebrant of the Year in the 2019 National Good Funeral Awards in Port Lympne, Kent.

After founding the UK’s first Coffin Club in Hastings, Kate and Kate are inspiring a funeral revolution, encouraging people to decorate and personalise their own fabulous, flat-packed coffin and take control of their end-of-life celebrations.

(left to right) Kate Dyer and Kate Tym at the Good Funeral Awards 2019

On winning the prestigious award, Kate Tym said, “We’re so passionate about what we do, it’s really amazing to get some recognition. It’s all about giving people choices and the more we bang on about it hopefully the more this will become the norm. Winning this award means having more of a platform to keep talking about the changing face of funerals in the UK.”

The Coffin Club movement is based on a model that has successfully run in New Zealand for a number of years, as part of a strikingly fresh approach to our inevitable trip six feet under.

Kate and Kate had become disillusioned with the type of costly, conveyor-belt funerals being offered. After becoming inspired by the clubs in New Zealand, the first UK-based Coffin Club was born and bred in Hastings in 2017 and as it grows in popularity across the country, it isn’t leaving anytime soon.

As Kate Dyer says, “We want to prevent people being channelled into having only one type of funeral, finding themselves, at a time of bereavement, being offered package A, B or C and being too emotionally exhausted to think creatively or ask questions. Coffin Club is about making decisions ahead of time so you can take control and get what both you and your family want for your final send-off.”

“We now run an umbrella organisation – Coffin Club UK, with clubs springing up across the country, which is really, really exciting. We would like it to reach the point where Coffin Club no longer needs to exist because talking about death will have become normalised and people will be aware of all the choices available to them when they die.”

In just two years, the club has gone from strength-to-strength, counting Miriam Margoyles as one of their biggest supporters. The TV star visited Hastings to film the coffin clubbers as part of her BBC Two series, Miriam’s Dead Good Adventures, and after growing a passion for the cause, is now a patron for the charity.

She said, “After preparing my funeral with Coffin Club, my coffin is ready, it FITS me, better than most of my dresses and when I die, I know that everything is taken care of.”

 ‘Anybody that’s going to die should come to Coffin Club’

As well as adding a personal touch to your own coffin, the six weekly sessions include talks from funeral directors, end-of-life doulas and everything in-between, to help coffin clubbers explore all of the options available and address funeral poverty.

Kate Tym said “We’re all about choice. We want people to be aware there are options. You could hold your final farewell in a barn, a village hall or even your back garden. We try to encourage people to avoid leaving their last hurrah to chance.”

Coffin Club is open to everyone. Those who attend may include elderly people or those living with a terminal diagnosis, families or carers and others who want to make informed decisions about their end-of-life plans.

The pair met when they worked together as Marriage Registrars before leaving together to form ‘Kate and Kate Celebrants’. The independent duo performs weddings, baby naming ceremonies and vow renewals, but remain particularly passionate about changing the face of funerals in the UK.

“It may seem odd, but we absolutely love what we do. It is hugely rewarding when people find out that there are no rules around end-of-life celebrations, and we can help them to do whatever they would like to truly honour the person who has died. That’s what it’s all about.”

Support from Business East Sussex

Kate and Kate Celebrants got in touch with the Growth Hub in the early stages of their business. The Coffin Club was taking up so much of their time when it launched, that the other side of the business had gone on the backburner.

That’s where Ian Smallwood, Director of Business East Sussex, came in. After receiving free twelve-hours support under the South East Business Boost scheme, the pair was able to get their accounts in order as well as develop a strong business plan.

Now, Coffin Club UK is financially self-sufficient, and Kate and Kate Celebrants profit margin has nearly doubled, tripling the number of weddings they do since the first year of becoming celebrants. Kate Tym shared, “When we first started, we didn’t have a single spreadsheet on the go. We saw Business East Sussex advertised and took the step to ask for support. It was similar to therapy – you knew you were going to follow-up with your mentor the next month as if someone was looking out for you and your business.

It gave us enough confidence to take control of our finances, and in three years, we’ve ended up running three businesses, a partnership, Kate and Kate Celebrants and both the charity-led Coffin Club and Coffin Club Limited.”

For Coffin Club enquiries, please email kateandkatecelebrants@gmail.com.

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