Hands on funeral for homeless man

Charles Cowling

 

Undertaker Rupert Callender in Totnes is appealing to his fellow townspeople to turn out to help carry the coffin of a homeless man, Michael Gething, through the streets to his funeral — and then on to the burying ground at Follaton, just outside the town. 

Rupert Callender said: “The act of carrying his coffin all the way up the hill to Follaton Cemetery is quite a physical commitment, so we’re going to need the help of the townspeople. This is a simple way for people to come together and show respect and solidarity.”

Mr Gething died of hypothermia. He is the fourth homeless person to die in Totnes this year. 

The BBC report states that the purpose of the procession is to highlight homelessness. Knowing Rupert a little, I suppose that his purpose is actually to give Mr Gething a decent, respectful funeral, and to hold it where he lived. Inviting the people of Totnes to bear some of the burden would seem to be wholly appropriate. 

More

 

 

20
Leave a Reply

avatar
17 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
Charles CowlingAnniePoppy MardallMichael GambleJed Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Everyone deserves a decent funeral regardless of his social status. This blog is an eye opener for us to be reminded of the sanctity of human life and the relationship between death and eternity.

Poppy Mardall
Guest

Wonderful! You guys are setting an awesome example. Please tell us what happens!

Michael Gamble
Guest

Well done to you both for such a generous act of compassion. I hope it goes well and the town do their bit to support you. (I am sure they will) This is a heartwarming end to an otherwise tragic tale.

Jed
Guest
Jed

Another great man of compassion once said: ‘Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
We should all be thinking about this very deeply…we are so often compassionate in theory, compassionate from our armchairs and our PayPal accounts…..Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Compassion is a verb.”
Ru, you and Claire are compassion in action. Thank you.

David Holmes
Guest

Well done both. This should be what local community funeral directors are all about. The ‘community programmes’ undertaken by the big players are nothing more than sales opportunities in disguise.

I hope your little business benefits hugely from this act of kindness – but I would bet that you definitely didn’t do it for that reason.

gloria mundi
Guest

Yes, Jonathan and all down there, I’ll certainly be thinking of you on the 6th, and if I didn’t live 7.5 hours away, I’d be with you. This is good work. There in spirit.

Teresa Evans
Guest

I believe that the people we meet in this life and make a connection with, are not by chance. Michael was surely meant to have met you. I applaud your efforts Rupert! x

Rachael
Guest
Rachael

what date are you planning? or are you waiting to hear when most people are available? I think this is an astonishing act of compassion and I love you for it xx

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Rachael,

I live in Totnes and can tell you it’s Thursday 6th December at 11.30, starting at the bottom of town where I often saw Michael hang out. Think of us, please do.

Michael had that look in his eyes that Ru talks about – he’d be sitting on a bench appearing to be seeing something apocalyptic, though I’m sure he was as approcachable as Ru says he was, and I’ve been talking to others who knew him and wishing I’d approached him

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

(sorry, I appear to have pressed the wrong button… as I was saying)
As I walked near him just before he died, the friend I was with said “I hope someone knows about that guy.” Ironic how her wish is coming true, with all the media interest in the death of a tramp in NotoCosta Town.

Clare Brookes
Guest

I wish I was nearer so I could lend a hand.
Good on you both xx

Ru Callender
Guest

I take that as a compliment Fran, but of course my wife Claire finds that aspect of me infuriating..

Fran Hall
Guest

Ru and Claire – this is why you so richly deserved to be joint winners of the GFG Funeral Directors of the Year – I am proud to have you as my friends. You are giving Michael Gething a public funeral, in the truest sense of the phrase – and I am so glad that in his body is being cared for and laid to rest by two genuinely humane people who care about their fellow men in life as well as in death and who are inspiring others to do the same. I hope that the mile long procession… Read more »

Sue White
Guest

Well done, to Rupert Callender the undertaker … Acts of Kindness and making a stance will hopefully bring the community together and offer ways to ease the pressure on homeless people.
Giving Michael a voice and acknowleding his death ..magic .lets see more undertakers making this stance as a charitable act and great PR for the business. Local newspapers love this type of news!
Will be in contact..

gloria mundi
Guest

Er, no, I’m not sure we would all do the same under those circumstances, because the extra spark that lights the fire of action (nb bespoke metaphor for you) is sympathetic imagination. And that, surely, is what has pulled people together and made them help – right thinking, right ritual. And we might or might not find that spark, on any given day…

Rupert Callender
Guest
Rupert Callender

Steady on chaps and chapesses, I’m sure you would all do the same under the circumstances. Michael stood out when he arrived in Totnes 18 months ago. 6ft 4 with bushy hair and a slightly mad look in his eyes, none the less he was very approachable. Claire and I met him about 8 weeks ago, at an event put on by our local Quakers, and I was so glad to be able to speak to him, make a small connection and keep up our relationship, even if it was just exchanging greetings and giving him a couple of quid.… Read more »

Annie
Guest
Annie

Bless both you & Claire, Ru.
Annie & Pops.

Kitty
Guest
Kitty

Please tell us what happens! Even if the awareness of the plight of homeless people is fleeting, you are doing something exceptionally good and thoughtful.

gloria mundi
Guest

Wonderful, just wonderful. I hardly need to light a fire this chilly evening, that’s such a warming story – but I wish we could have warmed Mr Gethin more, during his life.

Radio 4’s Christmas appeal for St Martins in the Fields doesn’t just apply to London, it helps homeless people all over the country.

Ru, you are a man of enlightenment, a centre of profound yet simple awareness. Also a dodgy fire-raiser who needs to be watched….

james
Guest

What a giant of an undertaker is this RUPERT. Incredibly brave and moving request of the good folks of Totnes, who – no doubt – will turn out in their hundreds in regret at this man’s passing ……….. and to assuage their guilt at the manner of his life. Thank you Rupert.