At last, another celebrant trainer

Charles Cowling

angry_computer_user

 

A flurry of forwarded emails flies into our inbox. “What do you think of this?!?” they all demand.

This?

The NFFD’s freshly launched celebrant training venture. The consensus is that it stinks.

What do we think? Well, let’s have a look.

The NFFD’s given reason for entering the celebrant training market is “growing demand”. Some will question whether, in a supersaturated market, there is any demand whatever. The answer is that market forces may confidently be relied upon to eliminate the less competent. There’s always room at the top.

What quality assurance can the NFFD offer? Selection for training is via “a telephone screening process”. The course, which seems not to be externally accredited, has been “Designed and developed in close conjunction with a number of industry experts” none of whom is named. The course is delivered at an intriguing venue, “our private church chapel” by “Rev Victor Johnson … an Ordained Priest of the Church of England” with “over 20 years’ experience conducting contemporary, civil-celebrant funeral ceremonies.”

The NFFD reckons that “funeral directors … are ideally placed to perform this valuable, satisfying, and lucrative, [celebrancy] role,” which sort of makes you wonder why they never thought of it before. The NFFD adds: “if public speaking isn’t for you, but you have a more confident driver, bearer, or other member of staff, why not give them an opportunity to develop their skills by enrolling them on the course instead?” Whoa, there’s one from out of left field.

The NFFD reckons “There’s rarely more than an hour or two’s work involved” in researching and writing a funeral ceremony. Our view is that if a celebrant were to use a laminated script on which he or she simply rubbed out an old name and wrote in a new one, that time could be halved. There are a lot of celebrants who reckon a bespoke funeral takes at least 10 hours to write but, let’s face it, they’re making a bit of a meal of it, aren’t they? You can’t be any good if you find it that difficult.

The NFFD is keen to help its celebrants to maximise their business. Projected earnings are given as “between £100 and £200 per hour,” a rate they describe as “incredibly lucrative”. Isn’t it, just? And if that isn’t enough, “You will also be invited to attend a one-day course FREE OF CHARGE to teach you how to supplement your income through the sale of pre-paid funeral plans. Given the environment that celebrants routinely work in, selling funeral plans is a brilliant way for you to easily generate an extra £500 – £1500 per week on top of your earnings as a straightforward celebrant.” There aren’t many vocations that make you this sort of dough.

The NFFD has made a name for itself as a creatively disruptive force in a highly conservative industry. It has certainly made feathers fly.

It has exposed itself to market forces and consumer scrutiny, which may be trusted, we think, to do their Darwinian work.

If you wish to comment, please be aware that the NFFD is retributive in the matter of libel.

 

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William EcclestonGeoff J GardnerTonyBCharles CowlingDavid Latham (NFFD) Recent comment authors

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Geoff J Gardner
Guest

Having read the above comments, I can only say that they are loitering on the non-professional and at times extremely vitriolic. I believe that the NFFD are producing a course that from the various comments has certain people scared of the forthcoming competition, which in business, competition can only be a good thing. It allows the opposition to analyse their own standards, and if they are so good that no other competition is needed then their standards are so high that they would not worry about any other competitor taking their business away. However, could it be the other side… Read more »

William Eccleston
Guest

Mr Gardner,

I do Thank You for your support and very accurate comments however I feel compelled to warn you of the following:

According to the trolls on GFG, any support whether it be direct or implied for the NFFD will result in you spontaneously combusting and your remains being left to the vultures of the dark world to feast on.

On the plus side, your loved ones can now find a cheap funeral director in the London area as per his latest blog.

Good Luck and Farewell Sir!

James
Guest
James

Frankly, I’m astonished!! I am looking into general celebrant courses at the moment and stumbled upon this thread and can’t believe what I’m reading. I can’t believe a company is being attacked for starting to offer a training course in a field they obviously work within, by, what appears to be, individuals who must have an ulterior motive. Having requested one of their prospectus’s and read it carefully, it never states that it’s only a couple of hours work, nor does it imply that you can make an hourly rate of £100? That said, I think getting an actual NOCN… Read more »

David Latham (NFFD)
Guest

Dear James, Usually I’m loathed to respond personally to any comments posted on the, ahem, ‘Good’ Funeral Guide about our Organisation. Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer to conduct my business, and air any grievances I happen to have, in person, like any civilised, decent-thinking, human being would. In my opinion, that’s the only way to engage in REAL meaningful debate (Charles!). However, in this instance, James, I feel compelled to respond, seeing as the last (and only) time someone said something even remotely supportive of our efforts on the Good Funeral Guide, the ever-impartial Mr Cowling intimated (publicly,… Read more »

james showers
Guest

These offerings from NFFD may prove to the benefit of families by their response from the marketplace. We shall see.

But it’s the shrill tone trumpeting from the very top that chills.

It would not be possible for me – or any celebrant I use – to knock out a service in 1 – 2 hours and for it to be personal, heartwarming, and unique.
Eulogy lite is what it would necessarily be.
I’m afraid I found the incredibly successful TV show self serving and creepy.

William Eccleston
Guest

Glad you watched the show – we go again this Wed, no doubt you’ll find that equally “creepy” –

William Eccleston
Guest

Hi James, Assuming you are ok after another “creepy” show yesterday, it would be great to hear from you!

Lucy
Guest

As a funeral director, a course like this isn’t something I would be interested in and nor would I send a bearer or arranger on this course either. As I bring the deceased into my care, sort out all the paperwork as well as arrange and conduct the funeral myself, I wouldn’t have the time to spend two days on a course. Also, I have found that drivers and bearers don’t want to be that involved with the family. As for arrangers, most see their next career step as being taught how to conduct a funeral rather than take the… Read more »

William Eccleston
Guest

Hi Lucy, Firstly, many thanks for offering a well-balanced argument with no hidden agenda. The points you make are incredibly fair and represent perfectly one side of the consensus and this is exactly why we offer the service to the alternative thought bearers. We try not to generalise as to whether drivers or bearers are capable (or not) of delivering such a service but we ask their employers to make that judgement and either put them on the course or not. In terms of being lucrative, an average price of a simple cremation from NFFD members is circa £1800, the… Read more »

Lucy
Guest

I would rather not increase my turnover by 10% and use celebrants who have always provided me and the families I serve with exceptional service. Again, I appreciate my company is a business, but believe it or not, it isn’t always about money. If someone wants to invest their money in your course above any of the others out there, that is entirely up to them. I have no idea if you are any better or any worse than companies who do the same thing. My objection comes from the language used surrounding money and the suggestion that all funeral… Read more »

x.piry
Guest
x.piry

Lucy, you sound like a great gal.

From the outside your workload sounds a little unsustainable, but only you know how long you expect to be doing both jobs and you are best placed to judge what is right for you.

If I were in the same area as you, I would be honoured to work as a celebrant for you. (And BTW, I charge nowhere near £180!)

More power to you x

Michael Jarvis
Guest
Michael Jarvis

It’s worth considering what a member of the general public with no working connection to the funeral trade would make of all of this. There are sufficient advertisements to make them aware of rising funeral costs, and whilst it may be true that many seek provision using the qualifier ‘cheap’, all would surely accept that any costs will have a profit element built in to ensure the continuity of the business. There is a well-documented rise in direct cremations. If we leave that segment on one side and concentrate on those families who want a funeral ceremony, then it’s fair… Read more »

William Eccleston
Guest

An interesting point Michael – As you will have seen, our prices are very competitive and are designed to cover the cost of the trainers (and their accommodation etc), the venue and the learning material – also the refreshments we provide. If it is a crime to have a business that offers a decent, honest and open service whilst turning a small profit, then I suggest you haul me away now – As for Joe public, we respect greatly their opinion and understand that some will want a full accredited celebrant. With that said, can you provide me the details… Read more »

Michael Jarvis
Guest
Michael Jarvis

You have slightly missed the point of my argument: While I have certainly come across people who wanted to be sure that a given, suggested, celebrant was properly trained and experienced that wasn’t the point I was making. It seems to me that any ‘civilian’ having read this thread would be quite likely to query the nature and quality of the training organisation.

I am in the fortunate position of being able to express an opinion; no more, no less. I’m not in the business of ‘hauling people away’.

William Eccleston
Guest

And opinion is most welcome, Michael. One thing we do share however is the need for regulation across the funeral industry. From plans to fees and everything in between, we at NFFD would welcome ANY regulation in the industry however unlikely that is to occur.

x.piry
Guest
x.piry

Wading in (sorry I’m late – painting a house yesterday) Well, what an interesting post and set of comments. Like other celebrants here, I am concerned about the “2-3” hours work aspect. IF we accept Mr Eccleston’s suggestion that the Funeral Director has already spent time with the family, presumably that would be to make practical/ logistical arrangements as much as go through content. Would the FD (or the family, for that matter) also want to go through the info required for any eulogy or tribute at the same time? Maybe I take too long to put a ceremony together,… Read more »

William Eccleston
Guest

Thanks X – Firstly it’s nice to have a sensible and fair comment for once – When brining the course together and constructing it’s content, we spent many weeks in meetings, attending services and visiting families alongside celebrants (and ministers) in order to make sure that we were offering a course that is reflective of the work involved – I am pleased that you have mentioned your total time spent constructing a funeral could be up to 5 hours or more – One person yesterday suggested a minimum of 12 hours – what we have here is a clear indication… Read more »

Simon Smith
Guest

Hi Charles
Thanks for sending me this. I am already in correspondence with David Latham about how appalled I am, and from our own celebrants the response has been similar, that NFFD believe they can train someone (bearers and drivers don’t tend to have much real contact with bereaved families) in 2 days and encourage them to spend just 1-2 hours on a funeral so they can make £100-£200 per hour. And then to claim this will save families money. Durrr! I don’t need to add to that – the grave is being deeply dug by themselves.

William Eccleston
Guest

Thanks Simon,

We noted your email to David. And thanks to Charles for sending this out to drum up support –

We are in the business where the art digging graves is accepted, having the balls to then hover above the open grave in order to provide an alternative service should be commended and not lambasted.

In none of our statements here, or otherwise, have we suggested that everyone has to agree with us. We offer something that has been askd for and have many uptakers – hardly a crime.

But good on you for giving it a go!

William Eccleston
Guest

I can’t help but notice David Latham’s response has not been shown! GFG, the personification of integrity and freedom of speech – laughable at best!

For those who are interested, we will respond via other mediums if the latest response is not allowed to be made available for the 5 readers of GFG.

David Latham (NFFD)
Guest

On behalf of everyone here at the National Federation of Funeral Directors, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all commentators for showing such a keen interest in our organisation and its activities. I can see that my colleague and friend, Will Eccleston, is performing a sterling job in instilling some perspective in the minds of the many GFC ‘disciples’ who all-too-readily turn to the wayward compass of self-appointed Judge, Jury, and Executioner – the esteemed Charles Cowling – for moral guidance whenever someone with ambition and foresight has the temerity to exercise their right to use it.… Read more »

The Real Radical Front for Liberated Anarchist Celebundertakers
Guest
The Real Radical Front for Liberated Anarchist Celebundertakers

Bored and filibustered to death. Bravo snore.

TonyB
Guest
TonyB

“2014 has also seen the successful launch of the Funeral Directors Register (www.funeraldirectorsregister.com). On a basic level, it is a simple public information service to help people to find the best and most-affordable funeral services in their local areas.”. For Twickenham you list seven FDs, several actually in Whitton which is a separate community, and the list gives no indication that three of them are Dignity outlets (‘affordable’?) and the two Andrew Holmes branches, are I think, are owned by Funeralcare. Meanwhile Lodge Bros (who in the past have always seemed to me to do an excellent job when I… Read more »

William Eccleston
Guest

Thanks Tony for reiterating a point made on the BFG months ago – nice to see you are on the ball – Our response now is the same as it was then. Any funeral directors not on there can easily email us and add themselves. maybe time would be better spent doing that than moaning about not being on? Just a thought

William Eccleston
Guest

Yawn! Yet another flurry of funeral directors jumping at the chance to join your proverbial band-wagon Charles I see. What is again interesting, and somewhat laughable, is the GFG’s continual poor journalistic tendencies. Write first, await reaction, ask later…. Something tells me that there is nothing else to write about…… Ignoring the other NINE firms who have been offering these 3 day courses for many years, it makes me wonder what else is going on in the industry that the stalwarts have not yet picked up on. The NFFD have been asked by many FD’s (some even not NFFD members)… Read more »

Michael Jarvis
Guest
Michael Jarvis

I hope that Mr Eccleston may permit me to make a small, but nonetheless charitable suggestion.

Having read his piece I do not feel that he should engage in any form of instruction which involves the use of the English language without first taking a refresher course himself in that subject.

William Eccleston
Guest

With the risk of failing to lighten the mood, I shall refrain from attempting to justify my mistakes by suggesting mistakes are to appear more personable!

Apologies Michael, I am clealry uneducated!

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Mr Eccleston, If you really felt the contempt that you protest for this blog and us three to five commenters, why would you have wasted your time in contributing two-fifths of the comments, and in such an apparently belligerent and defensive tone? Tell me this, please: if your own baby were to be run over by a bus and die in hospital, and you were presented with such an offensive attitude from a funeral celebrant as you can go back and read for yourself in your own comments, would you be pleased to pay several hundred pounds to engage him… Read more »

William Eccleston
Guest

Mr Taylor, firstly the fact that I have contributed almost half of the comments further proves my point. Which celebrant offered such an offensive tone? You have made 2 points, barely, neither of which make sense. It’s very easy to suggest that my wording is defensive but if YOU were to actually read it, all I have done is respond to more ridiculous comments and being matter of fact and straight to the point eliminates any uncertainty over my stance. The reason I, and the NFFD continue to respond is that this site continues to try, albeit poorly, to discredit… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

You make my point for me, Mr Eccleston: you just don’t know how to stop, do you!

William Eccleston
Guest

Oh Dear Johnathan, Oh Dear!!!

Quokkagirl
Guest
Quokkagirl

Lol indeed (allegedly). Silly me to have spent my hard earned cash to train with an externally accredited training organisation. I could have learned so much more on this NFFD course – like how to earn £200 an hour and to do a ceremony in a couple of hours. So a funeral which takes two hours to construct (and perform) will, according to this blurb, pay me £400? What a fool I’ve been all these years. The baby funeral I am about to perform, which has so far taken me 12 hours and has yet to be performed, will be… Read more »

William Eccleston
Guest

Assuming you are a real person, Quok, then the points you make are concerning. For a start, you clearly know exactly what is on offer and haven’t just replied to the blog so therefore know that this course is for funeral directors who ALREADY spend hours with families and could easily construct a funeral in the time. If indeed you have attended an externally accredited course that lasted significantly longer than ours, how about you come on one of our courses, for free, and make a list of everything missed? I’m almost 100% sure that the poor family of the… Read more »

Vale
Guest
Vale

It’s good that you are so actively involved in these comments Mr Eccleston – it’s a welcome chance to get some clarification from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. I was working my way through your prospectus to try to understand how, on your model, you think it might all work – because there are some big claims in there. Like the suggestion that the work might be worth £100/ £200 per hour. If I understand your response to Quokkagirl though, your figures are based on the time that is already spent with families (and already charged for as part… Read more »

Evelyn
Guest

WOW! I know I couldn’t craft a ceremony in 1-2 hours as a celebrant – my visit with the family would be at least 2 hours, before I even started co-ordinating all the information and writing. Maybe the OCN accredited course I attended with the IOCF wasn’t such a comprehensive one? It was longer than two days though….I wish I earned £100-£200 an hour – that would be extraordinarily lucrative. I wouldn’t feel comfortable selling funeral plans as a celebrant. I usually suggest people put their funeral money in an ISA for safekeeping.

William Eccleston
Guest

Evelyn,

I extend my invitation to join us on a course to you to put some fact and substance behind your comments.

I assume you are a qualified IFA too? If not, offering people who trust you financial advice, especially very poor advice as ISA’s are amoungst the least well performing financial investments available, isn’t in the spirit of being a celebrant!

Food for thought!

Evelyn
Guest
Evelyn

Thank you, I will consider your kind offer. For the record, I don’t profess to be an IFA, just an ordinary person who often deals with families on very low incomes. Several have asked me if I provide plans (in my role as a new FD) and I say that they should seek professional advice, but my personal preference would be an ISA. No saving schemes are offering very good returns at the moment, and at least in an ISA a family could get it out to use in an emergency should the need arise. I meet families whose parents… Read more »

Andrew Hickson (Kingfisher Funerals)
Guest

LOL (allegedly)