A FUNERAL director is launching a new venture to help families celebrate key events in life.

Chris Dudzinska has been helping bereaved families create memorable ceremonies for more than seven years, and now wants to highlight the alternative services available to mark other occasions between birth and death.

She has set up Lifecycle Ceremonies in New Earswick, primarily as a funeral directing business, but also a resource centre, information hub and workshop space.

Chris said many people were unaware of the alternative support available beyond the traditional offering. "If you're not religious you can still have a gathering of family and friends to make an occasion special."

"This unique business will be a place where people feel comfortable asking for advice about our services, not only funerals but also baby-namings, weddings – in fact every major life-event worth celebrating," said Chris, who founded Last Wishes Funerals in Ryedale in 2013.

Chris, from Slingsby, said Lifecycle Ceremonies provided celebrants and a range of services, from home organisers - who help with practical tasks such as en elderly person downsizing - to soul midwives.

"All of these offer assistance with practical and spiritual matters as well as personal support for our entrance to and exit from this life," she said.

"We can also put you in touch with poets, musicians and keepsake artists, all of whom share our aim to make any occasion, whether happy or sad, completely personal and truly memorable."

A soul midwife offers end-of-life support, from companionship to pain coping techniques, while a keepsake artist creates bespoke items for people which, Chris said, could be anything from a piece of jewellery created from a loved one's ashes, to a quilt cover from their favourite clothes.

"Instead of having something hidden in a drawer, they can have something out to look at every day and hopefully they will be able to smile again."

Lifecycle Ceremonies is holding an open day on Saturday, July 24, from 10am to 4pm at 17 Hawthorn Terrace, New Earswick, York, where there is free parking.