A CLERGYMAN has turned “heaven’s angel” to help give bikers a suitable send-off.
The Rev Ray Biddis, who is a familiar face conducting services at Huddersfield crematorium, is turning heads with his bespoke motorcycle hearse.
It includes a “sissy bar” for the next of kin to travel pillion and pulls a glass, black and chrome coffin carrier which boasts a polished stainless steel coffin deck with black rollers inside, designed by the Halifax minister.
The trike was purpose built by Wackey’s Trikes in Devon from a Suzuki Boulevard 1400cc Intruder.
Said Mr Biddis: “Alongside God, my passion is biking and I wouldn’t be seen dead in a car for my final journey!
“Launching a motorcycle hearse outfit is a dream I’ve had for years.
“I wanted a vehicle that maintains all the integrity of a motorcycle, appeals to the most passionate of bikers and brings the general public an unusual alternative to the traditional car hearse.”
If asked to conduct the service, Mr Biddis, 45, will drive the motorcycle hearse to the deceased’s final place of rest before delivering his own unique style of life celebration funeral service.
He said: “I’m very passionate about introducing choice into funerals whether it is the music, the prayers – or lack of them – or the outfits people wear.
“I do bend the usual funeral rules because I believe a funeral is about what you and your family want. The motorcycle hearse is a real step forward for me in my bid to update and evolve the long established, traditional funeral market.”
Mr Biddis is known for his unusual approach to funerals and as well as being an ordained Baptist minister is also a Civil Celebrant – sometimes clashing with the traditions of the church.
“I will conduct a funeral for anyone, regardless of religion and creed,” he said. “While religious funerals are still mostly what I do, civil funerals are becoming more popular with the likes of woodland burials and funerals requested at home.”
Mr Biddis joined the church as a fully ordained Baptist minister in 1996 after a chequered past left him a reformed gambler.
A father of two, he served four years in Monmouth in Wales before moving to Low Moor and then to Pellon Baptist Church in Halifax.
After his first wife Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 – that later led to bone and brain cancer – Mr Biddis started taking on additional funeral work to pay for essentials to keep Wendy comfortable during her final months.
Discovering a natural gift for conducting powerful and uplifting funerals – or celebrations of life – Rev Biddis resigned from his church duties in Halifax in 2003 and worked solely on funerals to give Wendy the best quality of life possible in their last months together.
He said: “There is often talk about having a ‘good death’ but rarely does anyone consider having a ‘good funeral’. These days, many people embrace civil ceremonies for weddings and baby naming parties rather than christenings – I’m simply here to help people make their last goodbye the occasion that they want it to be rather than the occasion the church tradition dictates.
“There will always be people who want a traditional religious funeral with the car and the hymns and the prayers – and I truly embrace that.
“But choice shouldn’t end simply because life ends and the motorcycle hearse is another way I can facilitate a very personal final journey and help people in death have a true celebration of their life.”