TEDx Totnes

Claire and Rupert Callender

Cermonial Undertakers
Claire and Rupert Callender

Claire and Ru Callender are self taught, award winning ceremonial undertakers and sextons who set up The Green Funeral Company in 2000. Their stripped back, naturalistic approach is informed by their own experiences of bereavement and the unsatisfactory funerals that followed, and their practice has unusual and diverse influences including the natural death movement, rave culture, Quakerism, hospices, punk, and crop circles.

They aim to create rituals that are practical, satisfying and unique but feel profound and genuine, and their intentions can be summed up in three words: Honesty, appropriateness and participation.

They have strong feelings about the funeral industry, particularly embalming, current cremation practice and design, family disempowerment, corporate takeovers, assembly line rituals, faux Victorian aesthetics, inappropriate religious services and exploitative and unnecessary prepayment schemes.

Claire went to a dull provincial 1970’s comprehensive from which she escaped and fled to London, where she worked for Mute records in the eighties, before escaping again to go sailing. Ru hid in Cornwall fishing and raving until his vocation found him. They have two children.

Claire and Ru met in 1991, became undertakers together in 2000, became a couple in 2003, and married in 2004. They are making it all up as they go along.