The Good Funeral Guide Blog


Thursday, 28 June 2012

I expect there will be a number of stories like this. This one’s from this is Gloucestershire and is about Glad Stockdale’s experience of a Midcounties Co-op funeral, which all came back to her when she watched Undercover Undertaker, of which this is Gloucestershire writes:

The programme showed bodies piled up in a warehouse, instead of being kept in a chapel of rest and bungling funeral directors sending the wrong body to a funeral.


The last straw came when the family went to see Mrs Stockdale the day before her funeral. A plastic bag containing the underwear and clothes she had been wearing had been dumped in the coffin. The trolley she had been wheeled in on lay nearby.

After several complaints, Mid-Counties Co-Op gave them compensation of £500 to pay for a wake and a trip to scatter her ashes.

A Midcounties Co-operative Funeralcare spokesman said: “Midcounties Co-operative Funeralcare, which is not connected to Co-operative Funeralcare as run by the Co-operative Group and referred to in the programme, operates to the highest standards of professional care. Our staff are fully trained and qualified. We are members of the National Association of Funeral Directors and adhere to its exacting standards and code of conduct as a minimum.”

Well, that’s interesting. I could have sworn Midcounties had rebranded under Co-operative Funeralcare. What do you make of this screenshot of their website?



22 comments on “Fallout

  1. andrew plume

    Monday 2nd July 2012 at 6:03 pm

    and oh no, I know find that the ‘same people’ are being put to some more hard work, this time over in the Cardiff area:-

    it’s taking ‘the hub’ policy on to an even higher level, who would have thought?

    now they really are flogging their staff, surely with £51m in the bank, they surely shouldn’t be working them so hard


  2. andrew plume

    Sunday 1st July 2012 at 1:23 pm

    and I have much further news, yes I do on the very hard working crew at Fairways operation’s in Devon………….

    yes it seems that they also cover West Sussex too – here they are trading under the former respected name of FA Holland & Son:

    looks like the bonus pool will be paying out significantly for these folks (do they ever get any time off?), and where exactly are those £51m profits allocated to? It’s rather a lot of cash – hopefully the motion tabled by the Rt Hon member for Birmingham Hall Green will bring forth the answer


  3. Saturday 30th June 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Carl Marlow, the bravest undertaker of all, I salute you

  4. andrew plume

    Saturday 30th June 2012 at 11:15 am

    and I see that f’care are still separately using Fairways Partnership sites for their old branches, yes they certainly are – here’s a link to one of their East Devon shops:

    and oooooh here’s another about 20 miles away:

    same photos, same people (actors?)- clearly demonstrating the ‘hub concept’

    and dear readers, the only mention of f’care is at the bottom of the page

    and gosh, here’s yet another one, this time in South Devon, and it’s the same gals and guys too:-

    very had working indeed, yes, a hard working crew – should be up for bonuses


  5. andrew plume

    Saturday 30th June 2012 at 11:03 am

    ………….and in the further interests of transparency, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t complete the list of those ‘names’ owned by Southern Coop and which trade without any (web) reference to their ‘ultimate ownership

    these ‘businesses’ trade in Ascot, Basingstoke, Bedhampton, Brighton (and the surrounding area), Portsmouth, Waterloville and Wokingham and here they all are:-


  6. Dawn

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Simon, I have watched all your video links – thank you for posting them – I hadn’t seen them before. Having looked at both websites it seems to me that Charles Cowling and the Natural Death Centre are both trying to promote openness in the ‘business’ of death, and have the overwhelming desire to inform the general public of their options and indeed choices. This includes telling them where and how to save money. Why is this apparently  so scary or threatening?

    Apply to the Good Funeral Guide or the NDC recommended lists of Funeral Directors – if you are ‘flexible, transparent and accommodating’ you will be accepted like a shot!

    As for Go As You Please – that’s one brave undertaker determined to help his customers go as they please, whatever barriers are put in his way, he finds a way over, round or through. Big challenge to the ‘industry’ presumably is him selling coffins cheaper than anyone else AND direct to the public to boot. That lets the general public see how much they were being ripped off. He won’t be selling buy three get one free to a member of the public, so I guess he must be meeting a need within the ‘industry’ too? I take my undertaker’s top hat off to him. I wish I could be as bold. He’s trying to break the taboos and secrecy surrounding the death ‘industry’. I don’t think you could ever call Carl Marlow ‘typical’!

  7. andrew plume

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 2:12 pm

    thx David



  8. Friday 29th June 2012 at 1:14 pm

    David, I can only assume it was Simon, despite his protestations that he ‘found’ it while searching youtube.The video has been around since the actual cremation, and I think it was available on Carl’s own website. The re posting along with the negative descriptions is what’s new.

  9. Friday 29th June 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you Andrew. Yes, they do seem very reluctant to identify themselves to the public.

    As for the Youtube clip. It doesn’t look good – but I believe it appears the body has decomposed and is creating a terrible smell? To label the clip ‘a typical independent funeral director’ is legally unacceptable. Who put it there is a reasonable question – and why?

  10. andrew plume

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 12:24 pm


    Yes, I’m sure that there has to be something that we (and others) are both missing here regarding what you said “….might otherwise appear to be a somewhat cunning deception…..”



  11. Friday 29th June 2012 at 12:18 pm


    Looking at that website, I see that the funeral plans they offer are the NAFD perfect choice plans. NOT funeralcare’s own offering.

    Call me old fashioned and cynical, but that might suggest to some people (obviously not myself, for legal reasons), that either the firm has no confidence in Funeralcare’s own plans, or, more likely, they are deliberately attempting to hide any connection with the CoOp. That’s the conclusion that your ordinary bod on the street MIGHT just probably arrive at.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive….

    Me? well I’m sure that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for what might otherwise appear to be a somewhat cunning deception.

  12. andrew plume

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 11:26 am

    and here’s a link to a branch near to David’s shops:

    please be transparent, f’care bosses?


  13. andrew plume

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 11:16 am

    David Holmes said:

    “I hear a lot of Co-op staff are saying ‘it’s OK, we’re not THAT Funeralcare, as seen on TV”

    given your location etc, perhaps you’re referring to Southern Co op, perhaps?

    and oh yes, here’s a link to their site:

    I simply googled ‘southern co operative funeralcare’……………

    maybe said employees haven’t heard?

    anyhow and on the interesting subject ‘of transparency’, unless I am incorrect, that’s a very interesting f’care site, yes very interesting indeed, go into the search engine and hey what do you get, yes, branches such as (and from their website):-

    Co-operative Funeralcare Fleet
    287 Fleet Road
    Fleet, Hampshire
    GU51 3BT

    being one such address

    and moving sideways but still on the transparency issue, we have those Southern Co-op’s still trading under their previous/family name(s) etc etc. For each office, the web details are the same, they just pop the different name in. Here’s their branch south of Newbury:-

    and when I popped the Howe address into the Southern Co-op search engine, hey, nothing appeared. Now the Howe registered address is shown as being:-

    Mutual Services (Portsmouth) Limited
    1000 Lakeside
    Western Road
    PO6 3FE

    personally, I’ve always been aware that Mutual Services (a cosy little name) were Southern Co-op and here’s an extract from the GMB union site, too:-

    “….The Funeralcare division trades as Mutual Services (Portsmouth) Ltd going back to the days when they started out as a smaller society called The Portsea Island Co-operative and eventually merged with other Co-operative Societies to become one of the largest Co-operatives in the country….”

    There is nothing at all on the Howe & Son site regarding clear and understandable transparency of ownership, simply nothing and most if not all potential customers looking at that site and their similar ones will not have the faintest that it’s a f’care operation

    So come on f’care, if you are proud of your business, now is the time to come out and simply cut through all of this…………



  14. andrew plume

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 8:34 am

    re Glad Stockdale’s unfortunate experience

    imo, this plus other quotes all leads to one conclusion. The hub operations are considerably understaffed for the amount of traffic – those there work hard but this is one of the areas where part of that £51m profit should certainly be earmarked. Is there also a reluctance to pay the staff at these hubs overtime so that this part of their business can be more efficiently imrpoved? Sadly, it does not reflect well on their business model, put funeral arrangers in (and their local bosses) to sell, sell, sell and cut back on the backroom work, which does seem to have been dumbed down and too far


  15. andrew plume

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 8:29 am

    Hello Simon

    Please comment on your ‘blanket saturation’ of this old youtube clip on all current topics on this blog? I am sure that those who blog and read on here are interested

    and as Charles has said a lively debate is crucial



  16. andrew plume

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 8:27 am

    Hello Charles

    and part of your intro, included:-

    “….Well, that’s interesting. I could have sworn Midcounties had rebranded under Co-operative Funeralcare. What do you make of this screenshot of their website?…”

    Yes, they certainly have, this is a shot of the f’care business at 122 Middleton Road, Banbury, bedecked in the f’care corporate colours, they even have the f’care flag there too, flying away on the right hand side and out of picture too

    and also their none too discrete ambulance (and located at this premises) is a white saloon with the wording ‘The Cooperative Funeralcare Private Ambulance’ on the back, another tasteless piece of marketing imo

    so Charles you’re spot on

    thankfully for the good residents of Banbury and the adjoining area, the f’care impact on the local death rate was already very minimal before the programme screened, possibly 5% pa and decreasing too



  17. Ariadne

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 12:16 am

    And so you have. Why?

  18. Simon Irons

    Friday 29th June 2012 at 12:03 am

    I already have

  19. Thursday 28th June 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Are you going to put that video with that comment on every post SImon?

  20. Simon Irons

    Thursday 28th June 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Searching YouTube to watch the programme again, I came across this video of independent funeral director recommended by this blog

    Now that is shocking !

  21. Thursday 28th June 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I think it’s called a distancing statement, David. Well, it will be. I just made it up.

  22. Thursday 28th June 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I hear a lot of Co-op staff are saying ‘it’s OK, we’re not THAT Funeralcare, as seen on TV.’

Leave a Comment