CREMATIONS and funerals in Wrexham are officially the best in Wales after the county borough's facility received the coveted Charter Mark.

Pentrebychan Crematorium and Wrexham Cemetery are the first in Wales to be given the Home Office award for excellence in customer service.

In order to achieve the award the Cemeteries and Crematorium Service had to meet a variety of criteria designed to show that it sets measurable and challenging standards and performs well against those standards.

It had to prove that it actively engages with customers, partners and staff through consultation and planning and that it makes improvements based on these findings.

The service also has to be fair and accessible to everyone, flexible to give customers a choice and continuously developing and improving.

Staff also had to demonstrate that the crematorium's resources were used effectively and that it contributed to improving opportunities and quality of life in the community it served.

Assessors judged that staff were well trained in all aspects of their work, including customer care. They received visitors well and there was a caring approach, either sympathetically or enthusiastically depending on what was expected of them.

Personal touches like the organist trying to accommodate the bereaved family with any music they want and funeral services adapted to suit different needs, such as those for environmentally-friendly funerals or funerals within the Polish community, were also praised.

A successful campaign to get a bus service to the crematorium was also noted, as was the way the facility handled ethnic minority burial needs, including Muslim, Polish and Italian.

Assessors also made reference to the gardens at the crematorium, which were described as: 'A credit to the staff who maintain them, who clearly enjoy their jobs.'

Alan McMahon, Crematorium and Cemeteries Registrar, said: 'We are very proud to be the first Cemetery and Crematorium Service in Wales to achieve this award and staff deserve the recognition the award gives them.