The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Best Direct Cremation Provider 2017

Friday, 29 September 2017

              Holly Clarke of Holly’s Funerals

Direct cremation is a fast-growing area of the funeral sector, and there are many direct cremation companies opening around the UK, with most funeral directors providing direct cremation as an option.

The runner up in this category is a quality provider of a direct cremation service, with ongoing telephone support for families.

The winner demonstrates though this excerpt from their entry that direct cremation, while being a cheaper alternative for families, does not necessarily mean less care is taken:

‘We believe that even though this may be a ‘cheaper option’ we still support the families as much as if they were paying for a full service. We include them as much as we can. We advise that they can come and decorate the coffin, they can send us personal letters, pictures to place in the coffin, we read these to the deceased. Once in their coffin, as with all our guests, we bless them, placing dried rose petals around them. We ask the family whether their loved one had any favourite pieces of music, if so we create a playlist that we play on their last journey to the crematorium. We always let families know what time we will be leaving so that they can be with us in spirit. A direct cremation is no less sacred than a ‘traditional’ cremation. We always follow up to see how families are, whether they need any extra support.’

Winner – Holly’s Funerals

Runner Up – Respect Direct Funeral Services


Award photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations


Crematorium Attendant of the Year 2017

Thursday, 28 September 2017

     Richard Hooker from Mortlake Crematorium

For such an important role, there were surprisingly few nominations in this category this year, resulting in just three finalists. The judges hope that next year far more celebrants and funeral directors will nominate these unsung heroes who oversee thousands of funerals each year, ensuring that everything goes to plan.

Picking a winner from the three finalists wasn’t easy, but it was eventually decided on by the testimony of the crematorium manager, who wholeheartedly endorsed this person for their quiet, gentle nature, their kindness and generosity, their complete reliability and their care for their work.

Winner – Richard Hooker at Mortlake Crematorium

Runners up – Paul Jansen at Golders Green Crematorium and the team at Cardiff Crematorium Thornhill


Category sponsor: The Association of Independent Celebrants

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

 Award photograph by Jayne Lloyd



Best Crematorium in the UK 2017

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

                                     The team from Memoria Ltd.

This category had a good field of entrants this year, with 13 finalists and entries citing facilities, environmental issues, service times, fees, bereavement services, training, events and grounds maintenance.

Selecting a winner from among these entries was not easy, and the judges ended up with three deserving runners up which all deserve mention.

The winner was decided both on the quality of facilities and staff and the testimonials from families and funeral directors:

Winner: South Oxfordshire Crematorium and Memorial Park

Runners up: Kettering Crematorium, Mortlake Crematorium and Seven Hills Crematorium


Category sponsor: Scattering Ashes

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

Best Burial Ground in the UK 2017

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

             Peter Taylor from Heatherley Wood

This category could so easily be about the best kept lawn cemetery, or the most attractive natural burial ground, but this year the judges were unanimously persuaded by the passion of the manager who entered for the award in choosing the winner.

Ultimately, it is the care and dedication of the people involved with a burial ground which gives it its character, and this entry demonstrates that even a small and relatively new site can shine when it is loved and cared for by someone who believes in it completely.

Here are the words that made this decision easy:

‘We are not the busiest of places yet, but our park is a reaching out to those made vulnerable through grief. I came here because I know the difference we can make, I know we can show the community here that you can have a good funeral, you can find a place that welcomes you back, that listens to you. We are not just about the funeral, we are about next week, next month, next year. Caring and supporting. When we lose that we become a cemetery.’

Winner:  Heatherley Wood, Greenacres

Runner Up: Eden Valley Woodland Burial Ground


Award photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

Gravedigger of the Year 2017

Monday, 25 September 2017


The number of entries for this category again was under-representative of the many people who work so hard in this sector. Perhaps this is because of mechanization and use of machinery to prepare the majority of graves and a corresponding perceived lack of craftsmanship and care, but the winner of the award this year is clearly someone who takes enormous pride in their work and their role as a custodian of their burial ground.

Testimonial after testimonial praised their work, using words such as ‘meticulous’, ‘immaculate’, ‘kind’, ‘caring’, ‘sensitive’, ‘gentle’, ‘supportive’ – all descriptions of someone who doesn’t see their role as just digging a hole in the ground, but who is fully appreciative of the important part they play at the time of a burial.

With a deserving runner up in Julie Hillman who has the challenging task of preparing graves in an established woodland at The Eternal Forest in North Wales, the winner of this year’s Gravedigger of the Year is Martin House of Eden Valley Woodland Burial Ground.


Award photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

Celebrant of the Year 2017

Sunday, 24 September 2017

This category attracted the largest number of nominees and entries, resulting in almost 30 finalists. It is also the one the judges find most daunting to decide, as they know how important it is to be recognised for what can often be a very lonely role.

Without exception, all finalists in this category are deserving of recognition for the impact they make on the families they work for. Having to select a winner and runner up from so many excellent celebrants was an almost impossible task, and took many hours of reading testimonials and entries.

The final winner was chosen for the obvious calibre of their celebrancy skills, along with the superb presentation of their entry and the level of detail and care put into it, which, the judges believe, indicates an attention to detail that will be paid to every funeral.

The winner is Justine Wykerd

Three runners up are Kathryn Sansom, Stuart Preston and Wendy Coulton

The judges would like to highly commend Terri Shanks for her work both as a celebrant and for training and nurturing other celebrants.


Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

Category Sponsor: Civil Ceremonies

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations



Minister of the Year 2017

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Another category with a small number of finalists this year, it appears that clergy are reluctant to put themselves forward for an award, and that their colleagues forget to nominate them..

The two runners up in this category are both dedicated to their work, to the mysticism of their beliefs and to supporting the bereaved families they serve.  They both adapt their work and their personal beliefs to take funeral services for people of any faith at any time, which is thoroughly applauded.

The winner was chosen because of the powerful description of his approach to his ministry by the person who nominated him:

 “He is a young minister who enjoys funeral work, and unfortunately that is very rare. He has a performance arts background which allows him to be much more flexible with running order and ‘set scripts’. Whilst many other ministers may frown at his methods he is by far the best minister at caring for a family, preparing a fun lighthearted service but also providing serious pastoral care when needed.’


Winner – Fr. Christyan James

Runners up – Emma Curtis and The Right Revd. Charles Muglestone



The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

Funeral Florist of the Year 2017

Friday, 22 September 2017


All finalists in this category showed not only great floristry skills but also an understanding of the sensitivity needed to work with clients who have been bereaved.

The importance of having a good working relationship with funeral directors is also paramount, and the judges took this into consideration when making their decision.

Winner: Rebecca Sharp of Dazzle Me Daisy Do

Runner up: Rosie Orr of Flowers by Rosie Orr


Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations



Coffin Supplier of the Year 2017

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Another category with just a small number of finalists this year, the coffin supplier of the year choice is very much influenced by the testimonials received from clients.

Overwhelming support from many of the businesses supplied by one of the finalists meant that the judges were convinced they had a clear winner. Most testimonials referenced both the quality of their coffins and the supportive professional staff equally, which, in the judges’ opinion, is a very good combination.

Winner:  Ecoffins

Runner up: Earth to Heaven


Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations


Care of the Deceased Award 2017

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


Formerly the Embalmer of the Year award, this category now accommodates all aspects of caring for the dead.

With a number of finalists, the judges were impressed with the calibre of care and dedication shown towards all those in their care, and some of the testimonials received demonstrate just how important this is to the families of deceased.

The runner up in this category was applauded by a number of families for her skill and professionalism in looking after their relatives, and was also commended for her helpfulness with teaching others how to care properly for those who have died.

The winners in this category are a small team of people led by a qualified embalmer, but they haven’t embalmed a body in their care since the inception of the business some 14 years ago. They have pioneered the art of creating beauty around death, and focus on engaging families to be involved and spend time with the body in a beautiful, comfortable space. The judges particularly applaud the leadership of this team and the way that every aspect of their work with the dead is carried out with such creative care.


Winner: Cara Mair and the team at ARKA Original Funerals

Runner up: Kirsty Sailes


Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

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