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Native Woodland Ltd was established in 2003 by former Chartered Surveyor James Leedam and environmental consultant Ian Walls. The company is dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Leedam (James's aunt), whose funeral wishes, pragmatic view of life and death, and whose love of history, heritage, conservation, trees and the countryside inspired us.
It was Elizabeth's funeral that opened our eyes to the possibilities of simple, natural burial, and exposed us to what we most admired and what we felt should be avoided. The experience helped us to develop our guiding principle, which is to keep things simple, natural and beautiful - proper countryside, not artifice or contrivance. We want to let nature, history, the landscape and the location to lead us - less is so often more.
We work in tandem with landowners and estates who have multi-generational interests in the land, a wealth of experience and local knowledge. They also own some of the most outstandingly beautiful land in the country which we can all now share. They have in common an "old-fashioned" environmentalism, keeping up farming traditions, maintaining local crafts and supporting landscape heritage, which we admire. We provide "the office" with a full time staff, modern digital surveying, recording and management systems, and experienced and dedicated people at the end of the phone (and email) to talk to.
We also believe that it is important for our burial grounds to have a secure future, and that they are both environmentally and economically sustainable; we don't want to create future follies or memorial gardens that soon become long-term liabilities. Each of our burial grounds has a purpose, a long-term aim, and a sustainable future.
We like to encourage families to slow things down, allowing time to reflect on what has happened. And, later to spend time at the burial ground, in the fresh air, listening to the birdsong, and keeping close the presence and memory of those at rest there.
At Usk Castle Chase and at Cardiff we have introduced oak memorial plaques which are mounted within the memorial shelters and inscribed with the names and dates of those buried. At our Henley burial ground the plaques are made of Welsh slate and are mounted on a memorial board. We have discovered how important it is for the name of the person who has died to be written - a mark in history. For us, these group memorials provide the burial grounds with gravitas without compromising our 'leave the landscape alone' philosophy and 'complete the circle' for many families.
We love what we do, are dedicated to maintaining the standards and qualities that make our burial grounds so special, and continue to be hugely encouraged by the support from bereaved families. We would like to thank them all.