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Pray as you go

PUBLISHED: 23:40 09 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

A FUNERAL service was broadcast live over a mobile phone to members of a family hundreds of miles away when bad weather meant they could not attend.

The phone was placed on the pulpit of a crematorium and listened to by relatives at a house in Scotland.

A FUNERAL service was broadcast live over a mobile phone to members of a family hundreds of miles away when bad weather meant they could not attend.

The phone was placed on the pulpit of a crematorium and listened to by relatives at a house in Scotland.

Heavy snow in southern England prevented Ian Hunter, from Paisley, in Renfrewshire, from travelling by train to the funeral of his 90-year-old mother, Ruby, in Gorleston last Monday.

Instead the 58-year-old former Rolls Royce worker and his wife Mary listened to the service using their two phone handsets at home.

Mr Hunter said: "We got in contact with my sister to say we would not be able to come and my niece in Norfolk came up with the idea.

"Her phone was put on the pulpit, we got a phone call and heard the full service.

"The line wasn't bad, it faded slightly, but the sound was pretty good. It was very nice and we appreciated it.

"My sister said the vicar was quite impressed with the idea.

"It hurt of course that we couldn't be there, but there was no way round it.

"The weather wasn't too bad here but I was advised by relatives not to travel."

The rev Tony Ward, who conducted the funeral service, said: "Normally the way phones work is that one goes off in the middle of a service, it's not often but when it happens it's quite a distraction.'

He was asked by the family if the phone could be used.

The rector of St Andrew's Church, Gorleston, said: "I thought, 'why not' and stuck it on the lecturn a matter of feet away from where the talking was taking place.

"I was really glad. We want to include and welcome people as much as we can and at times like a funeral it is sad if you can't be there.

"So if you can involve people using technology that's great.

"Maybe in the future we will see funeral directors arriving at a services with an armful of mobile phones to link up with absent relatives, or maybe live webcams will be used.'

Mrs Hunter's daughter, Ruby Butler, 63, from Gorleston, said her daughter Sharon Hunter, 41, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, came up with the idea to use the phone.

Mrs Butler, who cared for her mother until her death after breaking a shoulder, said: "Sharon rang the number just before we went into the service and then she handed it to reverend Ward who put it on the lectern.

"Ian said it helped him tremendously. I think the whole family thought it was a nice gesture for the sake of my brother.

"If we had thought about it earlier we could have had a few other phones for family up in Scotland.

"I think my mother would have thought it was marvellous.'

Mrs Butler said the call for the duration of the 30 minute service cost just under £10.


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