Category Archives: Uncategorized

International Work Group on Death, Dying & Bereavement Open Conference

Friday, 11 November 2016

img_2887

 

Today, somewhere in Scotland, leaders in the field of death, dying and bereavement will end a five-day meeting, and bid each other farewell until 2018, when the 30th gathering of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement will convene.

Membership of the IWG is an honour bestowed by invitation only; founded in 1974 by, among others, Cicely Saunders and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, the IWG is a non-profit organisation whose members must demonstrate leadership within thanatology within their country, and typically on an international level as well. While the majority of members are either in academia or the medical care professions, the organisation includes others who share a common bond of passionate intellectual and personal interest in the field of thanatology.

For the last week, around 140 people from around the world have been engaged in in-depth discussions on various death related topics – it is a kind of think tank on thanatology, with no agenda other than to explore the agreed upon topics. And last Saturday, the group hosted an open meeting in Glasgow where the public were able to glimpse the calibre and quality of some of the thought leaders and practitioners involved. The GFG was privileged to be invited to co-host a workshop at this conference on social aspects of death, dying and bereavement, and to attend the plenary presentations from some of the finest thinkers on the subject of our time. We also got to have dinner with the presenters the evening beforehand, which was quite an experience!

The one-day conference was hosted by Dame Barbara Monroe DBE, former Chief Executive of St. Christopher’s Hospice, a trustee of Marie Curie and Special Commissioner of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Barbara’s opening address was challenging and bracing; “…some of our efforts to engage the public in talking about death, dying and bereavement have looked like us talking to ourselves” she said, “we need to find a wider variety of words.”

Professor Robert Neimeyer Ph.D from the University of Memphis, author of 30 books and almost 500 articles and book chapters and editor of the journal Death Studies was the first speaker, presenting psychological insights on ‘The Importance of Meaning’ alongside Dr. Neil Thompson, a highly experienced social work professional who offered sociological insights to the same subject.

Bob’s presentation was illustrated with a brief case study of an impoverished African-American mother contending with the murder of her young adult son. He explored the concept of adaptive grieving and the move towards integrated grief (the point where the finality of death is viscerally acknowledged). Neil reflected on a holistic approach to meaning, the personal, cultural and structural influences and the fluidity of an individual’s experience. He explored the sociological context within which grief is experienced, the cultural norms and expectations, the structural power relations of class, race, gender, age, disability and language group frameworks which inform the unique experience of each individual.

The second presentation was given by Darcy Harris Ph.D, an Associate Professor and Thanatology Co-ordinator at King’s University, London, Ontario with a background in oncology, palliative care nursing and bereavement counselling. Darcy’s presentation examined grief from the perspective of social justice (the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights).

Most clinicians in end of life care and bereavement care are trained with an emphasis on the experience of the individual, often in isolation of the various contexts in which their lives are socially situated. Darcy explored the social and political underpinnings that inform individual perceptions, experiences and expectations, and discussed the social rules for grief, which cover who can be grieved, whether the relationship is valid, how long grief can last, how it is expressed / manifest and whether the type of death is acceptable.

Frustratingly, all four workshops were held simultaneously, leading to ‘workshop envy’ from both participants and workshop hosts – the three other sessions being held while we co-hosted a workshop on ‘Whose funeral is it?’ with Scottish bereavement consultant John Birrell were entitled ‘Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things, a community response to bereavement’, ‘Maximising child and family support after a bereavement – the role of networking’ and ‘Building community resilience and bringing remembrance into the open – Scotland’s answer to Dia de los Muertos’.

The afternoon continued with two further plenary sessions, the first from Professor David Clark, a sociologist at the University of Glasgow who leads the University of Glasgow End of Life Studies Group and who has a particular knowledge of the life and work of Dame Cicely Saunders, having edited her letters and selected publications. He is working on a biography to be published in 2018 on the centenary of her birth.

David’s presentation explored end of life issues around the world in the light of the anticipated significant increase in the global annual death toll from the current 56,000,000 people who currently die each year. He noted that the number of deaths in the entire 20th century is less than the number of people currently alive, and how the underlying assumption in palliative care is that the developing world should at some point catch up with the developed world – ‘the waiting room of history’ as conceptualised by historian Dipesh Chakrabarty.

David outlined his current work in a Wellcome Trust funded project investigating and conceptualising a comprehensive taxonomy of interventions at the end of life. His contribution was described by Dame Monroe as ‘a breath of academic fresh air’.

The final speaker of the day was Dr. Kenneth J. Doka, Professor of Gerontology and Senior Consultant to the Hospice Foundation in America. A prolific author (see here), Ken’s presentation highlighted the way that a sociological perspective has informed his work in thanatology, through a selective review of the work of pioneers in the field, including Durkheim, Talcott Parsons and Robert Fulton. He covered the dimensions of disenfranchised grief and the differences between intuitive and instrumental grief, issues arising from dissonant grief, grieving styles and post-mortem identity, and public and private grief in a gallop through the many aspects of his expertise.

It was an extraordinary experience to listen to such learned theorists and academics expound on their work in the area of death, dying and bereavement. The considered and thoughtful presentations were thought provoking and inspiring, and, like many of the other attendees, we came away feeling grateful to have been there to listen and absorb.

The International Work Group may not be well known outside academic circles, but the innovation and leadership that flows from the meeting of these minds influences both research and practice in the field of dying, death and bereavement, and ultimately affects us all.

We were privileged to meet some of the most influential thought leaders of our time in this field, and would like to thank John Birrell, Chair of the Planning Group for his kind invitation to take part in the conference.

FFMA reports positive start to the coffin certification scheme at AGM  

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

picture1 picture10 picture14

(all pictures copyright © 2016FFMA)

Press release from the FFMA with an update on the latest on the coffin testing protocol.

 

‘The funeral industry body, The Funeral Furnishing Manufacturer’s Association (FFMA) has reported a very positive start to its coffin and casket certification scheme at their Annual General Meeting on the 2nd November 2016.

David Crampton – President, in his opening remarks gave thanks to everyone who has been involved in its development and to all of the FFMA members for their patience whilst waiting to submit their coffins for testing. David said “The FFMA scheme has been developed to meet concerns raised by the cremation sector organisations, namely, health and safety issues. Our scheme has been fully endorsed by the cremation sector associations who have worked in partnership with us since requesting our support 4 years ago. The scheme is fully transparent and most importantly, anyone can visit the FFMA website and view the growing number of coffins which have been issued with a unique certification stamp”.

To date 56 FFMA members have uploaded their company profiles to the new and improved FFMA website. 136 coffin, casket and shroud products have been uploaded, 41 of which have already passed the testing protocol. Another 26 having been received by Intertek and are awaiting testing. The vast majority of UK coffin manufacturers have committed to the FFMA scheme. An estimated investment of over £250,000 will be made by those members to certify their products fit for purpose and allay any concerns of the cremation industry.

Julian Atkinson gave a presentation aptly illustrating (with light hearted humour) the key points of the tests. The aim of the presentation is for the FFMA to communicate the basic principles of this highly detailed testing protocol in an easy to understand manner.  The scheme ensures “coffins” are safe to carry and load, are fully combustible, render a compliant amount of ash volume and can therefore be deemed as fit for purpose.  

For more information, please visit the FFMA website: www.FFMA.co.uk or contact: Sue Bullock  (FFMA Secretary), bullocksuee@gmail.com

-Ends-

Exploring the stigma around baby loss

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Big Buddha Films

Guest post by Debbie Howard – Director/Producer –  Big Buddha Films

During the making of my previous short film Peekaboo, I had already built up close relationships with many families who had lost babies, so I had their trust from the beginning of this documentary and was able to gain remarkable access to their personal lives. I had become passionate about telling these parents’ stories over the past six years, as I had discovered how much of a taboo talking about stillbirth is and how this impedes the healing of the families involved. I had met courageous, humorous and generous people and desperately wanted to share their stories with others.

Over 3,500 babies are stillborn in the UK every year – shockingly, the highest stillbirth rate for any country in Europe. Approximately 15 babies a day are stillborn in the UK.  Only 10% of stillbirths happen because of a genetic problem that meant the baby had no chance of surviving. The reality is that with more awareness and more research, thousands of babies’ lives across the UK could be saved. Taking ten times more lives than cot death, stillbirth is more than a personal tragedy, it is a public health crisis. Urgent advances are needed to understand and raise awareness of the causes of stillbirth and how it can be prevented.

“…This is one of the most neglected, marginalised, stigmatised issues in global health today. We simply don’t talk about stillbirths.”
Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, The Lancet

People need to understand that it’s not abstract when a baby dies. It’s someone’s child that has died. Saying things like ‘never mind you can have another’ aren’t helpful, in exactly the same way that we wouldn’t say that to someone who lost a ten year old child. We need to be able to feel comfortable to talk about their babies, to say their name. I hope this film will bring much more understanding around what happens in a family when their baby dies.

In Still Loved we focus mainly on three families’ distinct and unique stories, supported by other families to punctuate and enhance the three main narratives. These are cleverly woven together into one story arc, telling a common story with different voices. This helps to illustrate the frequency of baby loss and how it affects so many more people than just the parents, including siblings, extended family and friends.

We look closely at the role of the fathers. Dads often feel marginalized when a baby dies, most of the focus being on the mother. In Still Loved the dads express their feelings about losing their baby and about the way our culture and society expects men to handle this, not really giving them a place or time to grieve. We are passionate about giving the fathers a voice in this film and they relish the opportunity to speak candidly about how they really feel.

The challenge I face is to engage audiences to watch a film about such a difficult subject matter and for this film to have further reach than those that have lost a baby themselves. In order to tackle this, I chose stories that offer hope, love, resilience and courage. Ultimately it’s a human story uncovering the incredible ability to triumph over adversity. The participants are very candid about their feelings, and although heartbreaking in places, we use humor to offer relief and create light and shade throughout the film.

Watch the trailer for Still Loved here: https://vimeo.com/145618118

We are about to release Still Loved into cinemas during October, for International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. This has been extremely difficult due to the subject matter being too much for people. A lot of programmers simply wouldn’t watch it, or just told us “There is no interest in this subject.” This was challenging, being that they are the Gatekeepers, a big wall between our audience and the film itself. Only a handful of cinemas came on board to screen the film, so the rest of the screenings we have booked through Ourscreen. The cinema books you in and you have to pre sell a lot of tickets through your own networks two weeks before the screening or it’s cancelled. This is incredibly difficult, because very few people book cinema tickets weeks in advance and no press will cover the event until it’s confirmed.

We have been doing a huge amount of promotion and publicity ourselves, with the support of Tommy’s and Sands. But we want to reach a wider audience. It’s no use preaching to the converted. Those that have lost babies know exactly what happens when a baby dies. We want the film to reach those that don’t know. It’s an incredibly valuable film for midwives and health care professionals, but also for anyone supporting someone through a loss. Ultimately it’s a film for anyone who has ever, or will ever lose someone they love.

“The subject matter of Still Loved is emotionally challenging, it should be, this is not a film to make the viewer feel comfortable. To make progress, we must break the silence, the stigma and the taboo that surrounds the death of a baby, Still Loved begins this process it provides an accessible, original and profound insight into the effects of the death of a baby.”
Alexandra Heazell, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Obstetrics and Clinical Director of the Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre

If you would like to see a screening of Still Loved please see the screening list on our website and follow the instructions on how to book:

http://www.stilllovedfilm.com/screenings.html

To find out more about the film visit www.stilllovedfilm.com

Best Maker of Hand Carved Memorials in an Indigenous Material

Sunday, 25 September 2016

14-hannah-wessel-stoneletters-memorial

Hannah Wessel of Stoneletters

Fergus Wessel, founder of Stoneletters, is a master of his craft, and provides a personal, sensitive service for bereaved families. He operates from his workshop in the Cotswolds with his small team, and prospective clients are encouraged to go and meet him there to see his work up close and discuss the options.

Fergus believes in a personal service and that the best ideas for wording for a headstone come through talking and learning more about the person the stone is to commemorate.

Slowly, through exploring choices of the different materials, ideas for wording and different designs, Fergus and the client together create a memorial that is totally unique: “As the maker, I feel a strong obligation to talk through every aspect of the inscription with the client so that every mark we make on the stone is purposeful and deliberate.”

Always using British materials wherever possible, every headstone is made with love and care from conception to completion, in close collaboration with the client, and with no limitations on the size or shape of inscription.

Stoneletters believe in choice without boundaries, and that almost anything is possible, but at the same time Fergus and his team have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the necessary requirements of local authorities and Diocesan regulations.

 

Runner Up in this category: Bierton & Woods Stonemasons

Whatever.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Life Death Whatever festival

As if bringing you the #DeathOscars, the Good Funeral Awards, wasn’t quite enough for 2016, we’ve got a few more treats in store for you.

In partnership with the National Trust, as part of Life. Death. Whatever. – a month long festival celebrating life, death and everything in between – we’re bringing you a series of GFG events, talks and workshops as well as an entire weekend showcasing the best of the UK funeral industry.

Our impressive venue, Sutton House, is the oldest residence in east London.  It features medieval foundations, a Tudor kitchen, Jacobean and Georgian interiors, an Edwardian chapel, 80s graffiti under the roof and an urban oasis with an edible garden.

Throughout October, this is what we’ve got planned.

Good Funeral Guild launch party
The Good Funeral Guild Launch Party
Tuesday October 4th
Sutton House, Hackney, London
Funeralworld is having a party to celebrate the launch of The Good Funeral Guild.  Whatever your interest in funerals, come along to drink deathly cocktails, see the Life. Death. Whatever. exhibition after hours and meet the people who are the change the funeral industry has been waiting for (readers, that’s you).
RSVP here.

Funeral Tuesdays

The Good Funeral Guild Presents… Funeral Tuesdays – So You Want To Work In The #DeathBiz
Tuesday October 11th
Sutton House, Hackney, London
So you want to work in the #DeathBiz?  Or maybe you want to find out about other roles within funeral service?  Join the Good Funeral Guild to hear from a fascinating panel of people who work in all aspects of funeral service.  From mortuary technicians, funeral directors, natural burial ground managers and crematorium superintendents to Funeralworld CEOs.

Good Funeral Weekender

The Good Funeral Guild Presents…The Good Funeral Weekender
Saturday October 15th, Sunday October 16th
Sutton House, Hackney, London
The Good Funeral Weekender will showcase the best of the UK funeral industry in the stunning Great Chamber and Wenlock Barn of Sutton House.  The visiting public will be able to explore the Life. Death. Whatever. exhibition as well as exploring what Funeralworld has to offer.
If you’d like to exhibit during the Good Funeral Weekender, please contact louise.winter@goodfuneralguide.co.uk ASAP.

Good Funeral Guide
The Good Funeral Guild Presents… Funeral Tuesdays – Creative Ceremonies
Tuesday October 18th
Sutton House, Hackney, London
Here at the GFG, we’re not only concerned with the hardware of funerals.  The software – the service – is just as important.  Standards are improving (and they need to!) as public perceptions begin to change.  Learn how to put together a creative funeral ceremony with the help of the UK’s best and most progressive ceremonialists and celebrants. Featuring Tiu de Haan, Emma Curtis of Extraordinary CeremoniesIsabel Russo from the British Humanist Association and Good Funeral Award winning minister Reverend Canon Gill Behenna.  There’ll be plenty of time for debate and discussion.

Good Funeral Guide

The Good Funeral Guild Presents… Funeral Tuesdays – The Natural Death Movement
Tuesday October 25th
Sutton House, Hackney, London
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Natural Death Movement in the UK.  Special guests TBA.


The rest of the month is filled with an eclectic lineup of events, workshops and talks including fashion meets death film screenings, Sylvia Plath book clubs, Death Cafes by the founder Jon Underwood, a Harold & Maude Extravaganza, therapy dogs and pat cats and a life affirming herbal supper club.  See the schedule here.

The exhibition, which has been curated by death doula Anna Lyons, features work by Laura Ford, Claudia Bicen, Philip Eglin, Stella Vine, Kate Linforth, French & Mottershead, Nick Potter, Chairman Kato & many more.

There will also be an interactive Coffin Playroom, a Life. Death. Whatever. grave by our friends at Stoneletters and a bar serving deathly cocktails in the Tudor Kitchen.

We promise cocktails, cake, tea and tears.

Phew!

www.lifedeathwhatever.com

 

 

 

I can’t afford to die so now I sell coffins on Norwich Market

Monday, 12 September 2016

Borca Wicker Baskets & Coffins

Guest post by Ruth Phelps of www.borca.co.uk

I opened my stall on Norwich Market in January 2016 and stock sustainably-resourced willow, green ash and rush baskets from household laundry baskets to bike and log and picnic hampers and much more. I additionally stock Fairtrade baskets from Palestine and seek to expand Fairtrade products.

Three months ago, in one of those middle-of-the-night mad idea moments, I decided to sell willow bio-degradable coffins direct to the public. It was an experiment. I decorated with flowers and displayed a big 6’ 6” willow coffin outside my stall.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but hundreds of people from all over the country as well as overseas and locals have stopped to congratulate me on selling coffins in a very visible way and attracted by the price which undercuts Funeral Directors’ charges for something similar by hundreds of pounds. Most of the public, like me, also see the coffin on display as a mechanism to de-stigmatise a topic many are uncomfortable discussing and promote that discourse. The local BBC & Mustard TV came to film and I was featured in the Eastern Daily Press. BBC Radio Norfolk tell me that nearly 17,000 had accessed the feature on their Facebook page within a few days.

Sales are going well with half of my customers buying a coffin to store or to give to family to store and/or make into funky furniture in the meantime. The coffins are being turned into coffee tables, wardrobes and shelving units. My favourite idea is to use one as a wine-storage cupboard.

All the coffins meet the criteria for crematorium, natural and traditional cemeteries in the UK and are environmentally friendly and sustainable products. Of course, many willow, bamboo, seagrass and cardboard coffins are also available on the internet but many with few guarantees. I’ve found that people like to see what they are buying, can see the quality and are assured of a very competitive price from a supplier they know.

We live in a time where a death pre-payment plan is considered the norm; where folk get into debt to see a loved one off at a very vulnerable time of their lives. We live in a time where the only avenue seen by many for saying ‘good-bye’ is through the services of a funeral director and the costs keep spiralling up and up.  Who can afford to die?

Whilst there will always be a demand for the usually excellent and sensitive services of a Funeral Director, increasingly people are objecting to the steep costs and are looking at DIY alternatives for all or part of the process. Environmentally, bio-degradable coffins and caskets make complete sense and natural burial sites are more and more popular although cremation still remains the cheaper option. Additionally, many people have said to me that they feel more in control and like choosing a coffin themselves in advance of the inevitable.

Some will donate their bodies to science and who knows how the disposal of bodies will be managed in future decades. But with a shortage of land and the planet in such peril from man-made global warming, a bio-degradable coffin at a more affordable fair price seems a small step in the right direction.

Borca Traditional Willow Coffin

Wise words

Saturday, 10 September 2016

ru-callender

Ru’s opening words to the assembled guests struck a chord with many who were there, so we thought we’d put them on the blog for the whole world to read. Over to you Rupert.

“Welcome everyone to the Good Funeral Awards 2016!

It started off, as so many good things do, in a sweaty basement in Bournemouth, and has grown into this glamorous Metropolitan lunchtime bunfight.

My name is Ru Callender and I should be standing here with my wife, Claire – sadly, she’s got flu. Together, we run The Green Funeral Company in Devon, and we used to be the Enfants Terrible of the undertaking world. Self taught, stubborn, scruffy, we still use our family Volvo instead of a hearse – but as we’ve been doing it for 17 years, we’re probably just terrible…

Today is a genuinely unusual mélange of the alternative and the conventional funeral world, and it has probably taken longer than the Good Friday agreement took to get everyone in the same room.

You are here because someone thinks you’re great. Let that sink in.

Even if you asked them to.

This gathering is largely due to Charles Cowling and crew of the Good Funeral Guide, and also to the original renegade masters, the Natural Death Centre, both of whose organisations dared to believe that ordinary people could deal with the gritty detail of death, the truth about what happens to our bodies, that a deep, internal understanding of death is part of our birthright, part and parcel of being human.

And what they did – brace yourself, maybe have a glug of wine to steady yourself here, was to treat the public as adults, to include them in a conversation about the one thing that will happen to each and every one of us.

They presumed, as we all should, that people can handle more than the protective narrative that is fed to them.

They were right.

It was thought wildly radical then, now it just seems honest and transparent.

I said funeral world because I refuse to use the word industry. Making computers is an industry. Fashion is an industry. Even getting fit is an industry. I don’t decry industry. It’s necessary.

But death is a true mystery, and working with it should be a vocation, a real calling, and if you’re not meant to be here, if ego, or an understandable search for meaning in your life has misled you here, then death has a way of calling your bluff. You are either initiated, in or out.

This work, the real work of dealing with death and loss is not glamorous, however closely it nearly rhymes with sex, however interesting it makes us appear to those who unfortunately have to work in jobs they hate to pay the bills, and that matter little.

This work, done properly, is incredibly stressful.

It’s exhausting, frightening, physically, emotionally and existentially challenging, but it is also deeply, deeply rewarding.

Burn out is a real risk, or worse, an unconscious hardening of your outer emotional skin – these are the risks you face depending on whether you fully engage with it or not.

Breakdown or bravado. Truly a metaphor for our times.

So, if you work with death – florist, celebrant, undertaker or chaplain, particularly if you are new to it, you really have to let it in.

Go deeper.

Feel it. Fear it. Don’t pretend to love it , because the only thing worse than death is not death – and then, if you can, let it go.

 

This world is also open to all.

Undertaking is completely unregulated, and should remain so in my opinion, not just because no amount of qualifications can teach you what to say to the mother of a dead child, that is an instinctive language that rises unbidden from the heart, but also because we are all amateurs when staring into the abyss, all professionals when faced with a dead body.

And they are OUR dead, yours and mine. We are all funeral directors eventually.

It is a shared mystery and your guess as to what it means, and your actions as to what to do are as valid as mine, or the Church, or the Humanists.

Nobody knows for sure.

The mechanics of what needs to be done are easy, I promise. Keep bodies cold. Put them in a suitable receptacle. Carry them, bury or burn them.

The rest, the words, the rituals, the how we do this, you KNOW, deep down what is right for you. You know.

 

But here I am, bringing you all down at a funeral award convention – I should get a prize for that!

But just indulge me one last time before we start bringing on the champs, and this celebration of the real change that has happened gets underway –

Euphemisms.

They cover the kitchen floor of bereavement like a spilled cat litter tray.

They protect no-one, they fool no-one, they confuse children. They are well meaning, but they are wrong.

I’m only going to take on one here, and I apologise if anyone has to amend their speech or their website as a result.

Loved ones.

Not everyone is loved, some because they have led sad, lonely lives, others because they did bad things.

They die too. They need funerals and their families are broken, and the depth of their pain makes the phrase ‘Loved one’ seem like a jeer.

Just saying.

So call them the dead, the dead one, the dead person, anything other than ‘loved one’. Call them by their name!

I know it’s awkward, but it will spare you the look of contempt you get when you say it to the wrong person.

Lecture over.”

The Winners

Thursday, 8 September 2016

gfawards-2016-winner-877x620

 

And here they are – after hundreds of entries and hours of deliberation by the judges, the winners of this year’s Good Funeral Awards have been named and honoured at the fabulous ceremony at Porchester Hall today.

Most of the well deserving winners were there to receive their awards from former GMTV host Penny Smith at the event with more than 250 people attending to applaud their friends and colleagues.

Unprecedented interest from the media and guests including representatives from both major trade organisations has confirmed that the Good Funeral Awards are now something to be taken seriously – funerals are changing, the unsung heroes are being appreciated, and the best party in funeralworld takes place every September!

If you missed out this time round, nominations for next year’s awards open in April 2017…

With thanks to our main sponsor Funeralbooker, all the category sponsors, and everyone who worked so hard to make the day such a brilliant success, from all the team at the Good Funeral Awards, we would like to congratulate the 2016 winners.

 

The Winners

Minister of the year

Revd. Canon Gill Behenna Chaplain among Deaf People in the Diocese of Bristol

 

Celebrant of the Year (sponsored by Civil Ceremonies Ltd)

Stevie Glover

 

Embalmer of the Year

Andy Holder

 

Coffin Supplier of the Year (sponsored by Ecoffins)

Musgrove Willows

 

Florist of the Year

Debbie Western Flowers

 

Gravedigger of the Year

David Homer of D. T. H. Burial & Churchyard Services

 

Cemetery of the Year

Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery

Crematorium of the Year (sponsored by Scattering Ashes)

Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff

 

Best Internet Bereavement Resource

Muchloved

 

Best Funeral Caterer

Claret Catering

 

Best Alternative to a Hearse

Respect Bentley

 

Best Green Funeral Product

Brahms Electric Hearse

 

Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death (sponsored by Final Fling)

Tamworth Co-operative Funeral service

 

Best Maker of Hand Carved Memorials in an Indigenous Material

Stoneletters

 

Low Cost Funeral Provider of the Year

Coulbert Family Funerals

 

Green Funeral Director of the Year (sponsored by The Association of Green Funeral Directors)

Higher Ground Family Funerals

 

Funeral Arranger of the Year

Sarah Lee of Holmes & Family Funeral Directors

 

Most Promising New Funeral Director (sponsored by The Church of England)

Judith Dandy of Dandelion Farewells

 

Modern Funeral Director of the Year (sponsored by The Natural Death Centre)

A Natural Undertaking

 

Traditional Funeral Director of the Year (sponsored by A. R. Adams Funeral Directors)

Trevor E. W. Hickton Ltd.

 

Most Innovative Death Public Engagement Event 2016

Bristol Culture

 

Mortuary Assistant of the Year (APT)

Louise Milligan at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust

 

Crematorium Assistant of the Year

Steve Biggs at Mortlake Crematorium

 

Bridging the Gap Award

Special award for the industry supplier doing most to move the funeral business forward:

Julian Atkinson of J. C. Atkinson

 

Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Paula Rainey Crofts)

Nicholas Albery (posthumously) & the Natural Death Centre Charity.

 

Access All Areas

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The shiniest fridge we've seen in quite some time.

The shiniest fridge we’ve seen in quite some time.

Fridges & Funeral Horses
“Come see my Daddy’s shop,” exclaimed Aoife, aged five and dressed in the loveliest summer dress, as she pulled her little friends through the front door and headed straight for the embalming room.

It was Access All Areas today for the launch of Don O’Dwyer’s lovely new funeral home in Acton, West London.  We had accredited O’Dwyer Funeral Directors as one of only six funeral directors in London with the official GFG seal of approval before he’d even officially launched.

“There’s absolutely nothing to hide here,” Don told me, as curious members of the community had a look around his new funeral premises, taking a peek inside the (brand new and empty!) fridge as they enjoyed coffee, cake and champagne and chatted to Don’s family.

The ever lovely funeral horses put in an appearance, as did local MP Rupa Huq, who was shocked to discover that the UK funeral industry is entirely unregulated, but was pleased to hear that the Good Funeral Guide is hard at work telling the public about the the good guys like Don.  One of the two Chapels of Rest was blessed by the local Catholic priest, and celebrant and funeral director Rob from Crumpton Rudd funerals conducted a mini service, funeral style, to celebrate.

Don's 1983 Daimler hearse.

Don’s graceful 1983 Daimler hearse.

O Dwyer's GFG Recommendation proudly on show

O Dwyer’s GFG Recommendation proudly on show

The star of the show!

The star of the show!

In other news…
There hasn’t been much, if any, good news from the world of crematoria recently.  Back in July, we exposed the appalling state of West London Crematorium.  We’re still awaiting comment from the General Cemetery Company, who have yet to get out the hoover and clean up the mess, according to our well-placed sources.

We’ve also had a run-in with a crematorium who refused to allow mourners their choice of music during an early morning contract funeral.  ‘Crem choice’ seems to mean no choice in a certain borough just west of London.

So it’s been refreshing to see a spirit of friendliness, openness and transparency being embraced at Mortlake Crematorium.  It’s undergoing a spring clean and a lick of paint in preparation for taking part in Open House London in September.  Superintendent Natasha Bradshaw promises it will be Access All Areas for members of the public to not only enjoy the 1930s art deco building, but also to see what happens behind that mysterious curtain.

It’s wonderful to see the good guys of the funeral industry like O Dwyer’s Don and Mortlake’s Superintendent Natasha Bradshaw embracing openness and transparency and welcoming the often sceptical public through their doors.

There’s nothing to hide, after all.

The view from the catafalque at Mortlake Crematorium, taken by Steve Biggs

The view from the catafalque at Mortlake Crematorium.  Photograph taken by Steve Biggs

 

Why Funeralbooker are backing the Good Funeral Awards

Friday, 19 August 2016

Funeralbooker at the Ideal Death Show

Guest post by Ian Strang and James Dunn, Directors of Funeralbooker

‘Dear all,

For those of you who haven’t come across Funeralbooker before, we are a website which helps connect people with the best funeral director for them.

When we decided to set up Funeralbooker and were researching the market, it was evident that the Good Funeral Guide provided the leading independent voice in the funeral community. We had spent countless hours scouring its blog for valuable insights into this new world – and so one of the first meetings we looked to set up was with its founder, Charles Cowling.

Heading down on the train to Weymouth, we felt slight trepidation over what type of character this Mr Cowling might be – perhaps a firebrand activist or maybe a dour auditor? Therefore, we were delighted to discover an incredibly amiable and engaging Charles, who escorted us to a local pub where we spent a very pleasant few hours in the sunshine discussing the industry. Tough market research indeed!

Since that time, we have continued to value Charles’s thoughts and input and have further strengthened our relationship with the GFG since the appointments of both Fran Hall and Louise De Winter.

In particular, we view several elements of the GFG’s ethos as mirroring ours:

  • • A relentless pursuit of what is best for customers – particularly through empowering them to make their own decisions
  • • Championing the great work done by the many outstanding funeral directors
  • • “Openness” to new ideas, innovation and change

We allow consumers to quickly and easily understand who the best funeral director is for them – using clear pricing entered by funeral directors themselves and reviews from actual customers who have used the platform.

For the funeral director, we provide a way to easily reach a whole new set of customers that they might not usually be able to serve. Before we launched, people who searched online would typically end up with the larger chain companies, and we can compete against that, increasing visibility for the smaller, independent funeral directors.

Last year, as wide-eyed newcomers, we attended the Ideal Death Show and Good Funeral Awards at the very last minute with only a hastily designed banner and some preliminary designs of what our website might look like when we had finished building it.

A year on and we return as proud sponsor of this event, with almost 500 funeral directors signed up with us and our website helping people connect with these great independents every day. These awards provide a fantastic way to celebrate all that is great within the funeral industry and sponsoring them is a very proud moment for us.’

To find out more about Funeralbooker visit their website here: funeralbooker.com/

Page 2 of 4812345...102030...Last »