Press and Media Kit
We welcome enquires from the press and media concerning all aspects of natural burials and contemporary funerals.
Leedam Natural Heritage is the leading company within the natural burial sector of cemetery operators. We are known and respected for being real, honest and innovative.
At the heart of everything we do is trust. Our clients trust us with the most precious people in their lives and to preserve and maintain the land where they rest far into the future. You can read some of their stories on our Your Stories page.
James and Elaine Leedam, based at their office in Monmouth, have a wealth of experience to share with you frankly and extensively. They speak to bereaved people and those planning ahead every day, so although they are not academics they are practitioners with highly informed heads on their shoulders.
On this page:
With more than twenty years’ experience of the funeral industry between them, James and Elaine have expertise in the following:
The hardest thing we ever have to do is say goodbye and arranging a funeral is not easy. People increasingly want to do this in their own way but are not sure where to turn for advice. They often know what they don’t want but are sometimes not sure what they do want or even where to start. They are good listeners, can help with ideas and give sensitive support and guidance. Anything goes and our funerals can involve live music, a pony and trap, tractors, someone’s horse, picnics and of course dogs and children to name just a few. We do not just talk the talk we actually make it happen, with or without the assistance of a funeral director.
Each year we notice a increase in the amount of people wanting to arrange and conduct the funeral from start to finish stepping away from the 'set piece'. Advising these families is a particular skill because of the support and guidance they need. In all cases, the families have found their experiences immensely rewarding and look back on them with love and emotion as well as great pride. Some refer to this type of funeral as 'DIY' but we call them 'Family led funerals'. Read about them on our Your Stories page. Or, ring us and we can tell you more about them.
What motivates people
What really sets natural burial apart is the before, during and after aspect. This is where I want to be, this was an occasion I will have good memories of rather than one I endured, this is where I love to come and remember. There is healing to be had in spending time surrounded by nature, simplicity and peace. It is rarely about being 'green'. Green is just a colour. In some cases it can also be a rejection of peoples previous experiences at municipal cemeteries and crematoriums that they found lacked meaning.
Engagement with the public
We do this in a number of ways including social media, on our own blog and as guest writers on others, at local shows, educational events and via end of life organisations. We speak to people every day who want to find out what is possible. They find our expert advice both helpful and liberating. We advocate taking more control and asking the funeral director to stay in the background so that people can concentrate on the things that really matter.
Operating eight natural burial grounds, we have extensive knowledge about the requirements for getting one started, how to maintain one and how to ensure it's sustainable future.
Environmental factors of burials and cremations
Natural burial works with the land ensuring that it has a future, unlike municipal cemeteries that are quickly running out of space and using up land, and crematoria that burn millions of units of irreplaceable fossil fuel each year in the UK alone.
Melissa collecting our Cemetery of the Year award for Henley Woodland Burial Ground 2013.
About the company
Truly natural burials in unspoilt landscape with good stewardship for generations to come.
Leedam Natural Heritage was established in 2003 when we opened Usk Natural Burial Meadow in tandem with landowner Rosie Humphreys and David Leat of the Gwent Wildlife Trust.
We now have 8 natural burial grounds across the UK, set in idyllic countryside and offering plots for natural interment and providing healing landscapes to visit.
Our sustainable credentials are something we take seriously, and can ensure our burial grounds have a secure future both environmentally and economically. They all have a dual purpose and remain part of the active countryside as pasture for animals, are cropped for hay or will become woodland.
We apply our ‘simple, natural and beautiful’ ethos to everything we do. We want to change people’s funeral experiences for the better by offering simple, natural burials in some of the UK’s most outstanding countryside. It is our belief that a funeral can be beneficial to both a family and the landscape.
Read more here.
Benefits of natural burial
We also have a Natural Burial Guide.
"I have a clear philosophy, which is to keep things simple, natural and beautiful, to use local materials, native plants, and to preserve the history of the landscape."
Formerly a Chartered Building Surveyor, James turned his attention to setting up and managing new natural burial grounds in 2003.
He was part of the Ministry of Justice panel that contributed to the MoJ's 'Natural Burial Grounds - Guidance for Operators'.
In 2008 he joined the Natural Death Centre as a trustee, where he helped to reinvigorate and update the charity for a busy 18 months.
In 2011 James was invited to serve on a committee to advise the board of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management on matters relating to sustainable natural burial grounds, with a view to setting up a diploma course in Natural Burial Ground Management and a new Charter for Natural Burial.
James enjoys fly-fishing which he does regularly on the Usk and sings in Monmouth Male Voice Choir.
"My aim is to provide a friendly and helping hand to people who come to us. I like to treat everyone as an individual and show that we care. Funeral professionals like to know that the person managing our end also understands their world."
Joining in April 2015 after working for seven years with Tovey Brothers funeral directors in Newport, Elaine plays a vital role in speaking to families, professionals and our landowner partners.
Elaine has extensive knowledge of the funeral trade and has been involved with the development of the natural burial grounds from the initial foundation of the company.
Elaine is involved in every aspect of the business whether in the office, at the burial grounds or on the road promoting natural burial. She has travelled the country visiting our landowners, burial grounds and custodians. She's represented Leedam at many promotional events and country shows where we engage with people often in a lighthearted and open way to explain what we do.
When not at work Elaine spends time gardening, harvesting produce and creatively cooking. She sings in a local choir and also enjoys getting together with her extended family in South Wales.
Leedam's awards and recognition
The Good Funeral Awards
The Good Funeral Guide
Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM)
Johnny Yaxley with his Gravedigger of the Year award 2014.
Leedam cannot authorise the use of the logos below in other pieces of media, please contact the relevant organisation to do so.
Please use any of the images below and if you'd like any without branding then do get in touch. We also have high resolution PDFs. As well as those already on our Gallery page we have other pictures we'd be happy for you to use.
Our natural burial grounds - high resolution JPEGs
Previous media coverage
- November, Funeral Service Times, Natural Burials: Working Together, p.18
- November, Funeral Service Times, Naturally good for your business, p.15 - 17
- 20th November, New Statesman, Six feet under: meeting Britain's Gravedigger of the Year
- 14 - 20th November, New Statesman, Words with a gravedigger (printed), article by Xan Rice
- 29th September, Henley Standard, Award for grave digger
- 20th September, Oxford Mail, Man with the special spade is Gravedigger of the Year
- 20th September, Oxford Times, Man with the special spade is Gravedigger of the Year
- 20th September, Henley Standard, Local gravedigger wins national award
- 20th September, The Herald, Man with the special spade is Gravedigger of the Year
- 17th September, Thame Gazette, Gravedigger Jonny wins top prize for his caring work
- 17th September, Bucks Herald, Gravedigger Jonny wins top prize for his caring work
- 16th September, Daily Mail, Death throes a party!
- 15th September, Henley Herald, Jonny Yaxley from Henley Wins Gravedigger of the Year
- 13th September, Newsweek, Now for a New Undertaking... Welcome to the Ideal Death Show
- 7th September, Good Funeral Awards Blog, Good Funeral Awards Winners
- 15th August, Good Funeral Awards Blog, Good Funeral Awards The Longlist
- 20th July, Bucks Herald, Burial ground offers alternative funeral
- 15th May, BBC, Rare trees planted to honour man who discovered them
- 23rd April, Monmouth Beacon online, Wales's rarest tree to be planted in Usk
- 5th December, News Wales, Memorial shelter for natural burial meadow
- 13th September, PR Web, Leedam Natural Heritage's Natural Burial Ground at Henley Wins Coveted Award
- 11th September, Henley Herald, Henley Woodland Burial Ground Wins Award
- 10th September, Good Funeral Awards Blog, Good Funeral Awards 2013 Winners and Photos
- 13th August, Good Funeral Awards Blog, The Longlist - Good Funeral Awards 2013
- 8th November, Graham Kitchener (blog), Hundy Mundy
- 22nd December, Ian Johnston (blog), Solstice Stones
- 27th October, ABC, Natural burial
- 24th October, BBC 1 Countryfile, Usk Natural Burial Ground
- 4th October, Henley Standard, Natural burial site
- 7th June, BBC, Natural burial 'the way forward' with graveyards scarce
- 20th June, Edinburgh Evening News, The green reaper
- 2nd February, The Southern Reporter, Green burials on increase at region's woodland sites