Honorary Fellowship for animal welfare champion, Kevin Spurgeon

At our graduation ceremony on 21st Oct. 2015, we were delighted to be able to confer awards on two champions of animal welfare. Below is the encomium for Kevin Spurgeon of Dignity Pet Crematorium, which was read by Prof. Elizabeth Stuart. Kevin received an Honorary Fellowship, for her services to business and animal ethics.

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Chancellor,
In 1988 Kevin Spurgeon’s parents’, Barry and Carole moved into their new home in Winchfield, a former brickyard and prisoner of war camp with a grade 2 listed kiln in the garden. Both the Spurgeons and Hampshire County Council were anxious to find a use for kiln which was restored in 1989. Watching a TV programme which showed in graphic detail the way in which deceased pets were disposed of literally like rubbish alongside clinical waste from the vets and subject to mass cremations, Barry and Carole decided to set up a pet crematorium where every pet would be treated with dignity and respect and be cremated on their own. Dignity Pet Crematorium opened its doors in 1992, the restored kiln became the cremator and the old prisoner of war guard house became the first Farewell Room where owners could say a last goodbye to their beloved pet. It is this business that Kevin Spurgeon now runs. His mother Carole passed away in 2014 and her ashes are scattered in the gardens of remembrance there, but his Dad still keeps a weather-eye on what is so much more than a business. The crematorium is a set in a beautiful location and the woodland and garden of remembrance hum with bees from the beehives housed there, hedgehogs looked after by Hedgehog Rescue are released back into the wild at Dignity, natural areas, bird boxes and feeders make the place a peaceful and attractive place to visit as you stroll amidst the moving memorials to Scamp, Tiger, Treacle, Fat Boy and so on. I took my dog, Arthur, there so he could see where he was going to end up. He gave me a hard stare as if to say, ‘Lovely, but what makes you think I am going first’. Solar power is used in the business, eco-friendly options for caskets and urns are provided and Dignity was the first pet crematorium to recycle the metals from orthopaedic implants. A charity wall in the Walkway of Remembrance allows people to remember their pets while supporting the charity, Hounds for Heroes, which is one of the many animal charities the business supports.

In 2009 the crematorium was named Cemetery of the Year and also won the Inspire 09 Rural Business of the Year Award. They also won the Home Business Innovation trophy in the Guardian Small Business Showcase Awards. The pet crematorium is rated first out of over 1000 pet services across the UK on the Freeindex review site.

Dignity is a founder member of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria (APPCC) that sets standards for members and protects vulnerable pet owners. Kevin has been instrumental in seeking to ensure that pet cemeteries and crematoria adhere to a strict Code of Conduct. I first met Kevin at the University’s first ever Death Day at which Dignity has been a feature ever since. Several of us spontaneously burst into tears at a seminar he gave when he told us that every time an animal is put in the cremator whether the owner is present or not a commendation is said over the body by the person conducting the funeral. It is that attention to detail and that deep understanding and honouring of the mysterious and, some of us would say, mystical relationship between humans and animals that makes Dignity Pet Crematorium a very special place.

Chancellor, the University of Winchester honours Kevin Spurgeon and the values-driven and ethical business he runs and I present him to you for the award of an Honorary Fellowship of the University.

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Prof. Elizabeth Stuart is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester