Wellingborough ‘Viking’ Michael will be guest at his own living funeral wake

Rathgar Thomesson
Rathgar Thomesson

Many people have perhaps wondered what their funeral would be like - how many people will turn up and what will they say about me?

But Michael Tudor, who prefers to be known as Rathgar Thomesson, is holding a living wake - so he can be there to welcome them to his pre-death ceremonial farewell.

Rathgar  in his helmet

Rathgar in his helmet

What’s even more unusual is that most of the guests will be ‘Vikings’, members of Wellingborough re-enactment group The Bifrost Guard.

Rathgar was been inspired to have a living wake after seeing the 2010 film Get Low.

In the movie, the main character invites people to his living funeral, which he pays for, to tell stories about him to the other guests and the not-yet deceased.

It will be no expense spared as Rathgar will be footing the bill for all his guests to attend his special day.

Wellingborough-based Bifrost Guard

Wellingborough-based Bifrost Guard

The 69-year-old joined the Bifrost Guard in 2010 when he saw one of their re-enactments in Hemsby, Norfolk.

He was staying in a chalet nearby, contacted them and signed up.

Originally from the West Country, Rathgar now travels from London to take part in Bifrost Guard events.

Speaking from his Hammersmith home he said: “I want to be at my own wake. I’m in reasonable health although I’ve got emphysema and fibrosis and some heart trouble but mentally I’m fit.

Rathgar has a laugh in camp

Rathgar has a laugh in camp

“I’ve invited everyone that I like so there will be around 50 Vikings dressed up and 10 of my family including my girlfriend Erica and my son Chris.

“When I told them about the wake they were happy to go along with me - I want to enjoy myself so there’s going to be loads of food and drink.

“Even though I’m not allowed to drink I’m going to get trashed on mead.”

Bifrost Guard members will be helping Rathgar with the catering at the wake, which will take place in the Scout Hall on Croyland Road, Wellingborough, on Saturday, August 17.



To celebrate Rathgar’s life there will be a funeral feast, games for the children and warrior training sessions.

Guard member Julie Mason, who is Pagan priestess Fenris, will be on hand to help with the ceremonial aspects of the day.

She said: “When he told me what he was doing it sounded like an eminently good idea.

“He’s a lovely bloke and an absolute nutter - we’re all mad.

“We’re going to have a really good time celebrating Rathgar with Rathgar.

“There will be a Viking mead hall and a party to celebrate his life.

“Because he’s poorly he can’t train with us but when he does join in he’s very enthusiastic and spirited.

“He can get carried away with re-enactments and has been known to ‘stab’ everyone before the battle proper.

“At some point during the wake I will bring everyone together and invite them to join in a toast to him then we will share stories about him with each other.”

Rathgar added: “Death is inevitable but I want to enjoy the party so I’m going to have it now, then I can die happy and go to the Afterworld.”