HAYLEY Cropper’s on-screen suicide story has re-ignited the controversial right-to-die debate — and, as she is laid to rest tonight, a demand for an alternative funeral service like hers is likely to follow.

The Coronation Street favourite made it clear to husband Roy before her death that she wanted a humanist funeral — one which is fast becoming a popular option for the non-religious.

Carole Truman, from Horwich, has been conducting these funerals for eight years through the British Humanist Association and has so far delivered 300 for people around Bolton and the surrounding area.

She says she is pleased that Hayley’s storyline has put the spotlight on the unconventional services, which she believes offers a more “personal and unique” experience.

Ms Truman, aged 53, said: “Hayley Cropper is a unique individual as we all know — and her funeral will demonstrate that. But we are all unique, and funerals should be tailored to each individual.

“The script writers for Corrie spoke to a colleague of mine about the process in depth, so the storyline will be based on real events.

“They have done their homework and spoken to the British Humanist Association so it will hopefully show the ceremony in a positive light.

“People often see it as a sad job but I think it’s the opposite. I sit with families in their home and talk to them about what made the person who has died special, and we discuss the good times that they shared.

“That’s what forms the basis of what we do.

“Traditionally, funerals are conducted by vicars or priests, but we are finding that a lot of people who are not religious want an alternative.

“The way humanists think about funerals is different. It’s a time for people to express feelings of sadness and to think about the person that died and what it was that made them special and unique.

“Even now people think that talking about death is some kind of taboo. It’s surprising how many people rarely sit down and have a conversation with their loved ones about it.

“I have had personal experience of arranging funerals for friends and members of my family.

“At the time it made me feel really gloomy, so I thought, how can I turn this into something positive? I wanted to help others get it right for themselves.” Hymns and prayers do not feature in a humanist service — instead the family can choose a special piece of music, a reading or a poem.

The retired university professor said: “I can deliver the service at a crematorium, at a graveside, at a pub, village hall or social club.

“I have been asked for a wide range of different music, such as Meatloaf, Monty Python, Gracie Fields, Vera Lynn, The Beatles. The family can also pick their own readings.

“Cost-wise we are in line with what a priest or a vicar would charge, but we believe we offer a more personal and unique experience.”