Y Gladdedigaeth Gyntaf

Boduan Sanctuary’s first woodland burial (photos by Terry Mills)

Joanna Melville led the procession from the car park, playing a lament for her father, William Melville, on her flute. His achievements as an army engineer in World War II were among his proudest memories – achievements mentioned in dispatches (represented by the oak leaf on his memorial stone) and still remembered by his surviving colleagues.

The British Legion flag was carried before his coffin as a symbol of respect.

When we cleared the brambles before digging the grave, we discovered a tall Scots thistle – the perfect symbol for the Scotsman who was to be buried there.

The procession arrives at the spot selected for Bill’s burial.

An informal celebration of a special life. Bill disliked formality but he loved music; so we sang the songs he used to sing when we, his daughters, were children.

Sharing memories of a man we loved: the final goodbye.

He asked to be buried in a simple pine box; this was made by a local craftsman. We covered the coffin with a REME flag, on which we placed his medals and army beret.

A wild rose at his head, a rowan tree at his feet.

Bill loved birds; they will sing for him here.

The mourners leave the grave site.

Wildflowers planted and watered, they will spread across the glade.

A peaceful resting place.

More will be added later – we continue to tend this woodland garden, transplanting the bluebells and violets that push through the paths.

Bill’s simple headstone is made of local slate.

The yellow poppies represent his enduring love of Wales.

The last to leave the grave

Bill’s dog Shiela. She died a year later and has been buried near her master.