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Last Updated: Monday, 12 March 2007, 09:23 GMT
Mourners bid farewell on internet
By Aaron Tinney

Coffin
Mourners can watch the service over the internet

A Northern Ireland undertaker has begun broadcasting funerals live on the internet.

In what is thought to be a UK first, the County Down firm says the move allows mourners from across the world to watch the funeral service of friends and loved ones.

S Clarke and Son Funeral Directors said people now living in Africa, New Zealand, Spain, Australia and Canada had been able to see services taking place in Newtownards and Bangor.

The idea was the brainchild of Jim Clarke, who runs the undertaker business with his father John - who has just completed a computer course aged 80.

"Life moves fast - we're just trying to adapt to the changing needs of our world," said Jim.

"There are families living abroad who can't afford to fly to funerals, or people who are too sick to go, or busy people who can't get the time off work.

"Our internet option means they get to become part of a grieving process they might have missed out on."

'Spot relatives'

To maintain privacy, only family and friends issued with a password can view the service, a copy of which can be recorded and kept.

The firm installed a network of cameras and microphones in the churches attached to their funeral homes in Bangor and Newtownards.

"The pictures are so clear that people watching can see the faces of everyone in the crowd, and hear everything clearly, so they can spot relatives they might not have seen in years," said Jim.

The internet service is offered as a free, optional extra in the Clarkes' funeral package.




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