Dementia donkey is the guest of honour as new funeral site in Lowestoft throws opens its doors

A funeral home is hosting a coffee morning with a difference – with the guest of honour being a special donkey who supports people with Dementia.

The new Central England Co-operative Funeralcare, in Gresham Avenue, Lowestoft, is throwing open its doors to the public to showcase the new £110,000 funeral booking office next week.

Guest of honour will be the Dementia donkey and her carer Dianne Fernee, from Wymondham Dementia Support Group, who will be on hand to talk to families impacted by a loved one living with dementia.

Funeral Administrator Debbie Bishop, who works at the new booking office, said: “Everyone involved with Central England Co-op has spent the last two years raising over £1 million for our brilliant corporate charity Dementia UK.
“We are all passionate about the great work the charity does to help families, so when the opportunity came along to have a visit from the Dementia donkey then we could just not say no.

“The donkey will form part of our coffee morning and will be there as a vital aid for anyone battling with dementia, with Dianne, from Wymondham Dementia Support Group, also on hand to offer support to their loved ones.
“We want as many people from the local community to come out for the coffee morning – to see the new booking office, have a cup of tea and cake and see the donkey!”

Debbie, who lives in Lowestoft, has been working at Central England Co-op for 25 years, spending 12 years at the Society’s former Westgate Department Store in Lowestoft, starting out in the store’s Royal Doulton concession, before moving into the banking hall and then working across various retail departments.

Debbie began her career in funeralcare 13 years ago becoming funeral administrator at Caister-on-Sea Funeral Home and most recently she has been supporting families at Gorleston Funeral Home before moving to Gresham Avenue.

Debbie added: “I live in Lowestoft myself, not far from the new booking office, so it makes me want to become a part of the local community in Gresham Avenue even more.

“I would encourage local residents to pop their head in to say hello and see what we’ve achieved with the new premises and if I can offer advice and guidance, as well as support with funeral arrangements and plans, then I would be happy to do so.”

The event will take place from 10am to 1pm on Tuesday, 18 June. More information is available by calling Debbie on 01502 449635.


Notes to editors


About Central England Co-operative


Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. 


It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, and property.


The company’s funeral business consists of over 120 funeral homes across 16 counties, nine florists, masonry production and administration, Bretby Crematorium and Terry Smiths coffin factory.


Central England Co-operative has more than 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including; West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 


The Society has an ambitious food store and funeral home development programme for 2019.


Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.


Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to members activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing or visiting


For more information visit, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, @mycooplife and on Facebook:


Rob Smyth and James Brindle at Central England Co-operative on 01543 414140


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