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It's your funeral so ditch the dirge and go out in style.

Rituals and wakes are being replaced by off-beat send-offs as families opt for tailor-made burials.

Ageing hippie Anthony Weir packed his aunt Marcella off to her cremation in Belfast in a hand-painted cardboard coffin.

"It cost all of pounds 160. If she were here, she'd say, `Why can't you give me a normal send-off like everyone else?' But at the same time she'd get a kick out of it."

Charity fund-raiser Ruth Tonothy wants to be laid in a woodland site wrapped in a biodegradable candlewick bedspread. Ruth, 78, of Erith, Kent, said: "I want to promote green burials for everyone."

Widow Doreen Tilly, 76, from Suffolk, may not plan to raise the roof but has lifted the lid on the whole business with rehearsals so that she could be around to enjoy her funeral as well.

She's had to hold four coffin mornings at her cottage because demand was so great.

But when it comes to dying, the sky's the limit. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry got the send-off of the century last week. His ashes and those of Sixties LSD guru Timothy Leary were blasted into orbit with 22 others for pounds 3,000 each.

Home burials in your back garden come cheaper, although they could wipe off pounds 7,000 from your house price.

Actress Sarah Miles laid to rest her Oscar-winning playwright husband Robert Bolt in the garden of their Sussex manor house.

"That's what he wanted," she said. "He'd asked to be buried in a cardboard coffin but he was too big so we had to settle for chipboard."
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Staples, Carol
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Apr 27, 1997
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