Toby Mynott – Simple Kent Funerals

Simple Kent Funerals at Applefield Cottage in Kent.

This week on WHITEBALLOON INSIGHTS we are delighted to hear from Toby Mynott of Simple Kent Funerals about the importance of offering a very personal, varied and creative service.

Q: Toby, you wear a number of hats – funeral director, celebrant and master of ceremonies. We’d love to hear what came first and how each role complements the other? 

I went to acting school when I was 18 (and soon realised that being a show-off isn’t quite the the same thing as being an actor!) so the public-speaking side of becoming a celebrant and MC was something I’d had experience of and carried through into my early career. When I decided to become a funeral director and set up my little business 6 years ago, I thought a natural extension of the FD role would be to offer to be a celebrant too. As a way of working even more closely with families, it just seemed to make sense to provide that very personal and important service too. In fact I do all the roles – planner, driver, FD, celebrant, bearer… because I like doing them, am a bit of a control-freak and it gives added depth to the bond I create with families.

Q: Simple Kent Funerals works hard to be carbon neutral and as eco friendly as possible. This is clearly very important to you. Tell us more. 

We’re all aware of the impact of climate change and I want to do my bit both personally and as a business. My sons and my wife are very conscious of climate change and their commitment has really helped me focus on practical things I can do to make difference, however small. Some families choose to work with me because of this focus, so it does make commercial sense too.

Q: You describe your services as open, caring, creative, flexible and positive. As people move away from perhaps more traditional, structured funerals, this must really benefit the people who come to you? 

Yes I really think it does. I chose to have ‘Simple’ in the business name because I believe ‘less’ is sometimes ‘more’. By that I mean that doing things in unfussy and less structured ways can go to the heart of what’s important; family, friends and communities getting together to express their love and thanks, which doesn’t necessarily require a ‘show’. One of the funerals I remember was on the green of a little cul-de-sac with family, friends and neighbours gathered round. It was completely unstructured, with people sharing their stories and memories over glasses of wine, cans of beer and crisps and peanuts.

Q: We love that you have supported people who have held funerals in such a variety of places and spaces. Are there any more unusual requests that you can share with us? 

I’ve held ceremonies on a harbour wall (with the permission of the Harbour Master!), in a lighthouse, on a boat, at an airfield, in an Arabian-horse stabling yard, by the sea-shore… among others. All these places were chosen by families because they had a special meaning for their loved one. I think a really important part of my role is to open up possibilities and say ‘yes, we can do that’.

Q: Also, there are wonderful creative ideas on your website about how to make the occasion really personal and special. We absolutely love the champagne bottle ashes urn, can you tell us a bit about it?

Angela’s ceremony took place in a little walled garden at home, in the middle of Tunbridge Wells. Angela loved a drink and at the end, the family toasted her with a bottle (or two) of bubbly and I suggested we use one of these bottles for her ashes. They loved the idea so I made a label, filled a magnum bottle with her ashes and sealed it up… you can see a photo here on Simple Kent Funerals Creative Ideas.

Q: You are based in Kent but cover other areas too. Do you think you will expand further afield to reach more people? 

No. Expanding to help more people is certainly something I’ve thought about many times but in the end I always come back to the same conclusion; that I get so much satisfaction from working in an intensely personal way with families, rather than having to spend more time on management – which I’d have to do if I expanded. Having said that I’m exploring partnerships with amazing venues locally who’d like to hold more funeral ceremonies… watch this space!

Q: And finally, your work must be very rewarding but also quite emotionally demanding. Do you have a particular hobby or pastime that helps to keep your life in balance? 

I do enjoy the emotionality of my work and feel I’ve done a better job when I’ve felt affected. I play lots of tennis and padel and walk our beloved brown labrador called Rum, ideally by the sea. We also hold relaxed festival-style weddings in our field, which adds a lovely balance to my work too.

Thank you Toby for your insights.

If you would like to find out more about the service that Toby offers, please visit the Simple Kent Funerals website.

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