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Funereal lesson in life

Around 60 children are to take an afternoon off school next week to go to a funeral. But this is not to say goodbye to a much missed teacher or fellow pupil.

It is a fake funeral, set up by a Leicestershire vicar. The only thing missing is a corpse.

The full Church of England service will be held in tiny St Denys Church, in the village of Evington. Year 10 and 11 pupils from three schools will hear the Rev Steve Heygate give the address at the funeral next Thursday.

The coffin will arrive in a hearse and pall-bearers from local undertakers will carry it up the aisle.

Mr Heygate came up with the idea as a way of helping children to deal with the inevitability of death. He discussed the plan with staff from the City of Leicester school and Crown Hills and Judgemeadow community colleges, who gave it their backing.

"I thought it would be helpful to hold the mock funeral so that children could see what actually happens. Death is a reality of life, and - hopefully - this will give them a gentle introduction to what to expect," said Mr Heygate, who plan's to replicate his mother, Olive's funeral, which took place five years ago.

The service will also provide a multi-cultural lesson, he says, with Hindu and other faith pupils witnessing a Christian funeral, which will be followed by a discussion about funerals in other religions .

Crown Hills RE teacher Liz Hewitt welcomed the service for bringing the subject of death "out in the open".

Annie Kiff-Wood, spokesperson for Cruse Bereavement Care, said: "As long as the mock funeral is part of a wider study of bereavement and the emotional process of grief, then it can only do good.

"It needs to be handled sensitively, with no particular theological view."

Cruse helpline 0870 167 1677

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