A NEW crematorium between Bridgwater and Burnham has opened its doors to mourners – with two funerals held on its first day.

Westerleigh Group, the company behind the project, says Sedgemoor Crematorium, off the A38 at Stretcholt, has already been praised by bereaved families.

Richard Evans, managing director, said: “We have had many compliments from funeral directors, clergy and mourners on the building and grounds and how much they appreciate having a local service.

“Many people mentioned to me that it had made the whole event much more personal.”

The crematorium originally gained permission in 2010, with construction work starting this February. It will serve all communities across the district from Burnham to Bridgwater, North Petherton to Cheddar.

John Biffen, of H. Biffen and Son funeral directors in Bridgwater, said: “We are pleased with the appearance of the new crematorium, especially the chapel which is light and airy.

“It has been built to a very high standard and the grounds already look well established given the scale and quality of the new planting.”

The 100-seat chapel has been fitted with large bay windows overlooking a water garden and wide views of the Somerset countryside.

A state of the art digital music system has been fitted, as well as a traditional organ and the chapel is able to cater for all religions and beliefs.

John’s daughter, Sarah, added: “I am sure families will appreciate having a more convenient choice in their own locality.

“It is important for people to have the funeral in their own district, not just because they don’t have to travel so far.”

Richard Marsh, of Burnham Funeral Services, who arranged the first funeral, said: “We’ve held about four funerals there now and feedback has been very positive.”

Service times have been expanded from 20 minutes to 45 and the crematorium will be less busy than others.

The facility also benefits from a video link system where mourners can witness the service by watching a recording of it on their computer.