Dawn of the drone-assisted sky funeral

Co-op Funeralcare launch 'Aerial Ashes' service, using drones to scatter people's remains in remote areas

Drone-assisted funerals
(Image credit: Co-op)

In what is believed to be a world first, Co-op Funeralcare (opens in new tab) are about to start offering a new airborne ash scattering service, using drones to takes the remains of people’s loved ones up into the sky above a special spot (on land or sea) before releasing them to whatever fate the four winds have in store for them. 

The best drones are so now sophisticated that they have been employed to do everything from finding lost dogs to taking footage of sunrises on the roof of the world, but using them to transport and scatter ashes over rivers, coastlines and remote peaks is an entirely new development.

Drone-assisted funerals

(Image credit: Co-op)

The Co-op, which is the country’s biggest funeral provider, with 800 undertaker facilities around the country, organises the ‘Aerial Ashes’ service from a base in Yorkshire, but it’s going to be available all around Britain. 

According to the company’s research, over a third of families who have cremated a loved one in the past five years then chose to scatter the ashes somewhere significant, with beauty spots featuring prominently on the list, but often such places are tricky to access. Customised drones can help with that, carrying a box of ashes high into the sky over the chosen area, before releasing the remains in a dramatic and poignant final dedication to the person who has passed. 

Drone-assisted funerals

(Image credit: Co-op)

“Our colleagues are dedicated to supporting the bereaved families we serve long after the funeral and the sky really is the limit now in terms of the choices that are available,“ said Gill Stewart, MD of Co-op Funeralcare

“Cremation has continued to grow at pace as a choice for funerals. We’re always looking at new and innovative ways to help families honour their loved one’s not just through the funeral service, but also through uniquely personal commemorative options for their ashes.”

On of the companies experienced drone operators, a former RAF pilot, Chris Mace added: “Drones are increasingly being viewed a means of providing essential services in our society, with investment in creating drone superhighways being looked at as this technology use grows. 

“The use of drones to provide new options to scatter ashes is an emerging and unique way that this technology can offer a truly memorable service. Ensuring that the right permissions are sought is essential and weather conditions must be favourable, but the use of a drone alleviates much of the worry when families want to scatter ashes in otherwise hard to reach locations.”

Pat Kinsella
Editor T3 Outdoors

Pat Kinsella has been chasing adventures and writing about the outdoors for two decades. In pursuit of stories he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked across the Norwegian Alps, run ultras across the roof of Mauritius and through the hills of the Himalayas, and set short-lived speed records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. A former editor of several Australian magazines he’s a longtime contributor to publications including Sidetracked, Outdoor, National Geographic Traveller, Trail Running, The Great Outdoors, Outdoor Fitness and Adventure Travel, and a regular writer for Lonely Planet (for whom he compiled, edited and co-wrote the Atlas of Adventure, a guide to outdoor pursuits around the globe). He’s authored guides to exploring the coastline and countryside of Devon and Dorset, and recently wrote a book about pub walks (opens in new tab). Follow Pat's adventures on Strava (opens in new tab).