Jean Francis

Having arrived into this world in 1939, two months before World War II began, I can remember ration books and gas masks! As a very sensitive child I cried bitterly when flowers in a vase died, not to mention the anguish of losing my darling Dad. The war years were lean, if we didn’t have it, my Day would make it, he was a master of ‘make do and mend’.

I grew up with my brother and sister in the countryside, and our greatest treat was to go for walks with our Dad. He taught us the names of the wild flowers, butterflies, birds and trees, instilling in me a deep love and respect for nature that would stay with me always. It now gives me great pleasure to share this knowledge with my three grandchildren.

My first educational achievement was to be accepted into Epsom School of Arts and Crafts; this is when my life really began.

My first place of employment was at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, embellishing costumes for the Royal Opera and Ballet. That is where my love of ‘the glitz was born.’

Marriage and two children later I made celebration cakes from my cottage kitchen, which eventually developed into an outside catering business. This led me into wedding and party planning for the next 36 years. Within this time I became chef in a private hospital and ran my own restaurant.

My darling Dad always said ‘When I can no longer pull up my trousers that will be it!’ He was true to his word. Shortly after his death I had several momentous experiences which turned my fear of death into the passion that drives me today.

Having attended two funerals, both of elderly gentlemen who had pre- planned their departure. I was blown away by the beauty and originality of each occasion, such experiences coloured my future and led me to write the first of my four books.

It was a ‘light bulb moment,’ when I realised that my party and wedding planning could lend its self perfectly to arranging unique funerals!

Synchronicity led me to meet two wonderful women who opened ARKA Original funerals in Brighton. ARKA was probably the first company to focus on environmentally friendly funerals. I feel privileged to have worked as a funeral arranger alongside these special people for 10 years and my dog always came with me!!

I signed up to the OneSpirit training programme and was ordained on my 73rd birthday in 2012.

Since, I have run Death Cafes and taken ceremonies that celebrate the many milestones of life including funerals for my two ex-husbands. I continue to work on developing Last Wishes Workshops, now with the support of a wonderful team of beautiful and inspiring people.

I have had crazy moments too:

My Dad said there is no such thing as the word ‘can’t.’ As a child my soul ambition was to fly like a bird. On my 60th birthday I went paragliding – my dream came true, I actually flew through the sky like a bird.

I have walked on fire. This moment of bravery gave me the courage to have a serious eye operation under local anesthetic.

My only close brush with royalty was dropping a Brussel sprout on the Duke of Winsor’s lap, while serving a meal at the Mayor’s Parlour; how very embarrassing!

As well as my passion and legacy writing about end of life, running Last Wishes Workshops and hosting Last Wishes Tea Rooms. I am also deeply involved in local community groups; Climate and Repair Cafes, where we re-use, re-cycle and re-make. This takes me comfortably back to my youth. Ozzie is my elderly golden retriever; we visit local rest homes where he offers ‘fur therapy’ to the elderly residents. Ozzie is a rescue dog now aged 15. He is my 9th Goldie and is the most amenable companion imaginable, I love him dearly.

Dawn – Director of Communications

I am sitting by the grave of my mum and dad with tree blossoms tumbling from the skies.

The blossoms dancing in the wind making me reflect on my life and feel so blessed at what an enriched life I have lived thus far.

For more than 30 years I have been an owner of multiple award-winning successful businesses that have bought me great material wealth but the focus on wealth… 

…So, over the past 10 years I have been discovering and using tools and techniques to get me from Business burn out and wasting fortunes to finding fun, freedom and fulfilment. I offer the tools and techniques I discovered in motivational talks and workshops…

Amanda - Director of Education

I am the founder of Ancient & Sacred Trees, with over 50,000 members and rising. Its’ ethos is PositiviTree for CommuniTree celebrating peoples ancient and sacred connections with trees. AST is an eco-activist, mental health and wellbeing group aiming to rewild humans, campaigning for cultural change, protecting and planting trees. The passion members have for the natural world has really inspired me so much and gives me hope for the future of our planet. AST is now a Community Interest Company.

I am passionate about ecology, wellbeing and social justice. I am a qualified teacher and have a BA Hons and PGCE in Art, as well as being a therapeutic arts coach, writer, historian, storyteller, blessing giver, sound healer, forest guide and tree temple keeper. The happiness and wellbeing of people and the planet have informed my career for nearly thirty years...

Nicole - Managing Director

I grew up in Australia and after 15 years in the UK, I have recently returned to the wide spaces and endless skies.

A few years before leaving Australia on my round-the-world adventure, my father died after 6 months of fighting cancer. He was strong in body and mind, and he was determined to fight this illness, until the final few days when he surrendered and said goodbye to us.

Our family created a very memorable celebration of his life; we sang around his coffin at the funeral, just like we had in the hospital for the weeks and months he was ill; I hung the positive affirmation posters that had brightened his stark hospital walls on fabric for all to see at his wake. Little did I know that years later these experiences would form the cornerstone of my future work...

Jo - Director of Standards

My name is Jo Nicoles and I operate Three Shires Independent Funeral Services based in Congleton Cheshire.

My father died when I was just 10 years old and my mother followed when I was only 29. Through seeing their funeral services first-hand, I felt there was something missing that made me think I could do it better. That was in 2004 and it made me determined that I could and should look to do this as a career path.

A friend’s father was a funeral director and I asked him for help. He gave me some work experience which I then used to acquire work with larger funeral homes. After 14 years of this... in 2018 I set up my own business and have taken pride in giving people the send-off they deserve, whilst offering the families the facilities, service, and value they need...

News and Information Blog

A Dead Rat. Poem by John Hancock

A Dead Rat. Poem by John Hancock

In the cold grey light of dawn
You lay silent on the path,
Cold in your unexpected end,
Your coat still glossy soft
As if you hadn’t died at all
But had simply stopped to rest.
….

read more

What Our Customers are Saying about Us

Jean leaves no stone unturned, no aspect unexplained – and I had no idea it would be such fun. Under her sensitive guidance and with her extensive knowledge of what is possible… Thank you Jean, for your inspired, humorous and down to earth approach to a subject that is so often considered taboo.

Tricia in her 60s

This workshop is well worth attending as there's a mine of thought-provoking information and Jean facilitates with compassion, warmth and humour.
Marion F in her 50s

Jean's little funeral books are packed with inspiration. The reader will be hard pushed to think of things that are not included and ideas that she does not touch on.
Rosie Inman-Cook

Natural Death Centre

It was a wonderfully inspiring day, that taught me so much. I would recomend it to anyone. It was a real fun day. And at the end of it you come out with something of real value for your loved ones, when they will need it most… If you get the chance to… attend… !

Lionel P in his 60s

Attending a Last Wishes Workshop proved to be one of the best decisions I have made. It opened up the whole subject in such a lovely way and raised my awareness of alternative and loving ways to say goodbye and to honour a loved one. I so wish I had had this knowledge many years ago when my husband died. I would highly recommend this Workshop to every one.
Ella R in her 70s

It was an utter joy to meet you on Saturday and benefit from your knowledge and wisdom...

Sandra S in her 50s

Courses & Workshops

 

Last Wishes provides face to face or online training that covers the importance of and options around planning the end of your life.

For peace of mind, for yourself and your loved ones, we've created easy to follow courses that take you by the hand to look at your end of life considerations. We help you understand the options available and the impact those choices have on your family, friends, community and the environment.

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Last Wishes Tea Rooms

 

Our Last Wishes Tea Rooms are free community events in a safe space for anyone to talk about anything related to death and dying.

They provide support for anyone who would like to talk about anything coming up for them, or indeed any curiosity or end of life concern. Currently our Last Wishes Tea Rooms are online. With safe distancing measures anyone can join us by logging in from around the globe.

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Covid-19 Suppport

 

One of our community projects is to provide regular ongoing Support and Supervision for Funeral Directors and Funeral Celebrants.

As a result of Covid-19 Funeral Directors and Funeral Celebrants are working long hours in extremely difficult situations due to the increased volume of bodies and necessary laws to keep everyone safe. Contact us to find out more about our Group Support and Individual Supervision Available.

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