Even though his story is far from over, the life of Aberfeldie Bowls Club president, Nigel Thompson, is one worth celebrating. That’s why the father-of-five threw his own living wake – while he was still around to join the party.

The Moonee Ponds man about town has touched the lives of many. He’s also had several brushes with fame including playing golf with Alan Border and being baptised by former deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe. He even joined the search party for Azaria Chamberlain while camping when she disappeared.

While memorials usually happen after the person being honoured has died, Nigel was able to witness the celebration of his life and legacy among family, friends and the bowls club community last week. The event was even captured by Network 10’s The Project last night. Watch the segment in The Project‘s Tweet below.

The living memorial was a chance for Nigel’s family, friends and bowls club community to come together and celebrate a life well-lived. There were many funny stories told, laughs shared and glasses raised, for a respectful tribute to Nigel’s life and legacy.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life is short. Now was a better time than any to have a party,” Nigel said.

“I’m a joker and love to have a laugh, but people are afraid to laugh at a funeral. With a living memorial, people can tell funny stories and have a laugh, because they’re celebrating life rather than mourning a death.”

Nigel Thompson's living memorial was a chance to celebrate his life and legacy.
Nigel Thompson’s living memorial was a chance to celebrate his life and legacy.

That was far from the case when Nigel farewelled his father, Keneth.

“When my father passed away three years ago, I don’t believe the type of funeral that was arranged for him was the funeral he would have wanted,” Nigel said.

“It was conducted in a funeral home chapel, but Dad wasn’t a religious man. His service came up short on celebrating the great man he was and his dedication to his family.

“I didn’t want that for myself, so I’ve taken matters into my own hands by having my own memorial while I’m still here.

“I picked the songs I liked and invited the people I actually wanted there. It was a chance for those closest to me to come together to celebrate my life, the way I lived it, at the place that’s been important to me for 15 years.”

Ordinarily, you’d never throw the biggest party of a person’s life without the guest of honour present, said Cale Donovan, co-founder of Bare Cremation, the funeralcare disruptor that arranged the event.

Nigle's name in lights as he is celebrated during his living memorial.
Nigle’s name in lights as he is celebrated during his living memorial at the Aberfeldie Bowls Club.

“Living memorials make it possible for a person to be celebrated while they are around to hear all the great things said about them. This is exactly the kind of event that Nigel’s life deserves – now, or after he’s gone.

“Bare is aiming to change the way people experience funerals and end of life more broadly. Death is a part of every person’s life story, so let’s destigmatise the arrangement of it,” Cale added.

“Australians today want personalisation and choice in their farewell. They want a new way to funeral. Nigel’s living memorial is just one great example of that.”

Formal funerals often don’t reflect the individual and they place a lot of time and cost pressure on families. Bare Cremation separates the ceremony from the cremation allowing more time and space to create an event that’s unique to the person being honoured – like Nigel’s living memorial.

Want to celebrate like Nigel? Consider planning your or living memorial or prepaid funeral by calling Bare’s award-winning customer care team on 1800 202 901.