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Exit strategies

Peter Prime is proprietor of Peterborough-based hearse and limo dealer and carriagemaster Prime Limousine Services, and has spent 43 years in the business.

"I’ve been a lifelong Christian and my wife and I are very active members of the Church of England so I would want a traditional funeral based on the rites of the Church.

I wouldn’t want the occasion to be too morbid though; I’d rather it were a celebration of life and not seen as the end but as the beginning of a new phase.

The service should take place at St John the Baptist Church, the parish church of Peterborough, where I’ve been an active member of the choir for many years, as well as treasurer.

I very much favour a service in which the coffin is present; I dislike private cremations and then memorial services – they feel a bit empty. Even though I believe the spirit has left the body by then, having the coffin focuses the mind.

I’d want only a simple coffin though: I hate to see waste when a coffin’s being cremated – and I wouldn’t want lots of flowers either. I’d rather people gave money to a useful charity. As St John’s treasurer I’d suggest the church, and I’m also an admirer of Macmillan nurses and hospital support services that help older people live at home.

I’m definitely in favour of cremation (that wasn’t always the case but I had the misfortune to see a body exhumed three months after burial, which changed my mind) and I want my ashes scattered in a special place that only my wife knows.
I hope a lot of people would want to come – those connected with local music and choirs, funeral directors and colleagues from the motor trade – but they say the older you get, the fewer people are left to attend your funeral and I’d like to go on for a while yet.

As far as transport is concerned, I’ve no desire for ostentation and I hope that the hearse that I use hasn’t yet been built!

I’ve done a lot of singing and my church has a fine musical tradition. Both Maureen and I are members of the church choir and I’m choirmaster.  I’d like to move away from ‘funeral’ music though and I’d like people to leave having enjoyed the musical experience.

If I won the lottery, I’d have an orchestra playing Elgar’s Cello Concertos but, as that’s unlikely, I’ll settle for a good organist playing excerpts from Enigma Variations and also Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. I hope the choir would want to sing excerpts from Fauré’s Requiem.

Although it’s not a funeral piece, Walton’s Crown Imperial would be a rousing final piece – there’s no reason why people shouldn’t leave a funeral feeling uplifted.
As for hymns, I’d like – Be Still for the Presence of the Lord and Lord of All Hopefulness. I’d also like the choir to sing God be in My Head. I wouldn’t want any of the more hackneyed pieces. I think sometimes people choose what they think is expected of them rather than look at the words."

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