Australia's Ashes to Ashes fireworks funeral firm sends pets off with a bang

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 November, 2012, 4:26am


Warren Blackwell held onto the ashes of his beloved canine companion Gypsy for eight years, never able to find the right place or occasion to celebrate her life.

"I've never been able to part with them, I've never been able to come up with anything that was suitable to do with them that would make me happy," he said.

The smart, loyal Staffordshire bull terrier was hit by a car when just four years old, after Blackwell moved to the city from the countryside - a horrifying moment he said compounded his need to give her a proper farewell.

"I was giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and I tried to get her to the hospital, to the vet, but she didn't make it," he said.

"I didn't want something that was all about her death. I wanted it to be about her life."

So Blackwell did not think twice when friend Craig Hull, a trained pyrotechnician, asked whether he would like to send Gypsy off in style, as the first customer of his fireworks funeral firm Ashes to Ashes.

The Ashes to Ashes story began almost three years ago when Hull's two beloved dogs - German shepherd-Akita cross Zeus and Gyprock, a white labrador-cattle dog cross - died, leaving a "big hole" in his life.

He had already scattered the ashes of a friend during an aerial routine at an opening ceremony for one of the Olympics, and felt his dogs deserved something even more spectacular. "I thought, 'I'll get a job as a pyrotechnician and I'll send them up in fireworks'. So I did," said Hull.

Instead of the "sad memory of scattering them into the water", Hull had a vision of colour and light as his dogs were fired into the skies during a New Years Eve fireworks display in Sydney.

For A$950 (HK$7,700), Hull will send up the ashes of a pet in a fireworks display complete with soundtrack, catering and a bar.

Animals will be done in groups of four - Hull said "pet owners love to show photos of their dogs to one another, share the memories". And he now wants to give humans the same opportunity.

Although people receive a solo show, no one has yet taken up the offer.

Prices start at A$4,800, and Hull said he planned to move beyond small shows to incorporating the ashes of the dead into large firework events such as New Years Eve.

He is even investigating the possibility of launching ashes into space.

"It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I believe it will become a common thing one day," he said.