So that was 2017, over and done with.
It was quite a year in Funeralworld. We lost one of the brightest stars, the founder of the Death Cafe movement, Jon Underwood, who died on 27th June 2017, tragically young at 44. Jon’s legacy is not only his two beautiful children, but the continuing spread of Death Cafes around the world; over 5,600 have been held so far, offering tens of thousands of people the chance to drink tea, eat cake and talk about death.
We saw the appointment in Scotland of the new Inspector of Funerals Directors, Natalie McKail, in a step towards the regulation of the funeral industry north of the border, something we are sure will be watched with interest in England and Wales.
We watched Dignity’s share price tumble by more than 25% over 12 months, opening at the beginning of the year at 2,447 and closing on Friday at 1,820 after CEO Mike McCollum warned of increasing competition eroding their pricing power.
We were informed of the disappearance of the CEO of the National Association of Funeral Directors, Mandie Lavin who is no longer in position – although as yet no explanation has been given to members.
We’ve seen the re-emergence of Howard Hodgson as a player behind the scenes of the Hospice Funerals franchise scheme, something we will continue to monitor and challenge as we go forward into 2018. We will be publishing the results of our survey early next month.
As for the Good Funeral Guide – well, we’re still here, watching and observing, participating in discussions and debates and doing the work that we are dedicated to; supporting, empowering and representing the interests of dying and bereaved people living in the UK.
We have added a further 12 funeral directors and two burial grounds to our recommended lists after they went through our stringent accreditation process, and we have several more companies waiting to be visited in the new year. Membership of the Good Funeral Guild has doubled in 2017, and there is a thriving networking group where thoughts, ideas and best practice are all freely shared.
Funerals are changing, there is no doubt of that, and it is largely thanks to the efforts of dedicated, challenging, committed individuals who are determined to give bereaved families the best possible experience at the worst time in their lives. We are proud to be associated with so many of you, and we will continue to support you as best we can using the platform that we have.
As we head into 2018, we have ideas and plans for new ways to keep the momentum going. We have meetings and collaboration planned with colleagues in the church, in celebrant organisations, with the Natural Death Centre charity and with SAIF, and we’ll be working hard to ensure we all go forward together with the best interests of bereaved families at the heart of all we do. We’re adding more information to our website so people can access free, unbiased and accurate guidance about funerals, and we’ll continue to publish our thoughts and opinions without fear or favour on this blog.
And lastly, we’re leaving some things behind. We’ll no longer be involved with the Good Funeral Awards. We think it’s time for new ways of celebrating what is good in the world of funerals.
Watch this space.
Happy New Year from all at Team GFG