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The independent voice of the funeral profession

Established 2006

ISSN 2046-7273


ervice times AUGUST 2011

Green special

Catering to the growing eco-funeral trend

A sense of place Natural burial in the South Downs Changing shapes Floral tributes still provide a source of comfort for the bereaved, but how have requirements changed?

Embracing heritage Gus Nichols of FIAT-IFTA considers the fascinating histories hidden away in the annals of funeral businesses

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This month

Augus t 


C o n te n t s





The latest news from the profession Gus Nichols of FIAT-IFTA considers the fascinating histories hidden away in the annals of funeral businesses

Farewell my friend




For this month’s instalment of Hearse and Verse, Peter Wyllie draws his inspiration from a recent funeral which he conducted Rev George Callander explains why some situations call for that extra bit of effort in order to aid the bereavement process GREEN SPECIAL

A sense of place 


Coffin choices 


Changing shapes 


Flying the green flag 


Ticking the boxes 


Green products 


Read all about it! 


A fitting tribute 


Strength in partnership 


Market growth 




Travelling in style 


Fighting their corner 


A future free from pain 


Obituaries  Events  Voice on the highstreet 

42 44 50

Michael Northcott hears about the history and philosophies of the Sustainability Centre and burial ground in the South Downs

A selection of environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing eco-coffin designs currently available on the market Mikaela Hubble and Ann Rainford discuss current trends in floral tributes

Kelly Clark speaks to Julian Atkinson of JC Atkinson about the growing eco-burial trend, and his company’s own green funeral ‘package’ offer

William Hunneybel of Greenfield Creations shares some illuminating information about the history of corrugated cardboard A special selection of eco-friendly products available from the trade Anthony Hill, director of the Somerset Willow Company, provides Louise Hoffman with an update on all the latest news from the firm Steve Hoare of Tributes Ltd outlines his company’s history and products

Kevin Rayner, MD of KPRayner Ltd, explains his company’s eco-offering

2011 is proving to be a busy year for the Ecoffins team, as Louise Hoffman discovers in conversation with office manager Chris Garland New products and services from the trade

Jessica Mortimer, proprietor of Your Chariot, tells Louise Hoffman about the brand new trike hearse service her company is able to offer Mike Whatley tells Phoebe Vincent why supporting Alzheimer’s Society in memory of his mother was the right choice for him

Arthritis Research UK discusses its research into the treatment and cure of this common condition

Nina Dass of the Herne Bay Funeral Service, Herne Bay

Editor’s letter W

hen producing this year’s ‘green special’ issue of Funeral Service Times, I hesitated to use the word ‘trend’ in reference to the popularity of eco-funerals. The word does, after all, conjure up images of the often fickle and fad-led worlds of fashion and children’s toys. In the end I let the word stay, because its actual definition holds true, but it must be remembered that this concept is not just a passing folly, as it presents far wider benefits than simply allowing people to be ‘trendy’; just as with in memoriam donations, eco-burial does actually have the potential to improve the lives of future generations. As Rosie Inman-Cook of the Natural Death Centre elucidates: “In the bigger picture, you’re looking at a living legacy; a positive memorial.” This is not about putting on a show or façade for those attending a funeral service or watching a cortege pass by – it’s about creating a tribute that simultaneously fulfils the wishes of the deceased, to whom a natural burial may appeal for a variety of reasons; provides comfort for the bereaved, whose grief can be alleviated by the experience of ‘returning to nature’ and the knowledge that the funeral is going some way towards helping their children and children’s children; and contributes to the improvement of the environment in which we live. Though eco-funerals will not appeal to everyone, and a range of options should of course be available to cater to all needs, raising awareness of this concept is surely a good thing. I hope you enjoy the magazine and the month ahead.

Louise Hoffman




Funeral Service The independent voice of the funeral profession


Established 2006

Funeral Service Times is published monthly by:

Mulberry Publications Ltd, Wellington House, Butt Road, Colchester CO3 3DA Tel: 01206 767 797 Fax: 01206 767 532 Editor Louise Hoffman Editorial Assistant Jon Chapple Production Assistant Lewis Bowes Group Advertisement Manager Kelly Smith Advertising Sales Adam Bennett Accounts Maureen Scrivener Customer Services 01206 767 797 Contributing writers: Ann Rainford, Gus Nichols, Kelly Clark, Michael Northcott, Mikaela Hubble, Peter Wyllie & Rev George Callander Cover image: The Somerset Willow Company Design Arthouse Publishing Solutions Ltd 01394 410 490 ISSN 2046-7273 The editor and publishers do not guarantee the accuracy of statements made by contributors or advertisers, or accept responsibility for any statement that they express in this publication. The opinion of the contributors may not necessarily be the opinion of the publishers. Articles are considered for publication on the basis that they are the author’s original work. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the permission of the publishers.

Woodland Burial Parks bought out by majority shareholders The Bibby Line Group – a sixth-generation family shipping, logistics, financial and retail services business – has announced the completion of a shareholder buy-out of Woodland Burial Parks. Bibby – a billion-pound turnover business – became a majority shareholder in the burial park operator in November 2006. Woodland Burial Parks currently operates three green cemeteries in Norfolk, Essex and Buckinghamshire; its biggest being the 72-acre Chiltern Woodland Burial Park near Beaconsfield – the largest of its kind in the UK. Earlier this year planning permission was received for a fourth site at Cannock Chase in the West Midlands, with the group having announced that it is also considering other new sites. However, managing director Andrew Paling stressed that Woodland Burial Parks has no intention of competing with funeral directors. “We see ourselves very much as independent partners, working together to provide families with the very best possible service,” he commented. “The lack of burial space provision is a hot topic at the moment and Bibby’s investment in Woodland Burial Parks sees it well placed to play its part in addressing that shortage.”

Surprise big screen adventures for Paul and Marian The managing director of a motorcycle funeral firm is to appear in an upcoming musical comedy film with his wife. Paul Sinclair, of Motorcycle Funerals Limited, Googled ‘Paul and Marian’ – the latter being the name of his wife, with whom he holds joint ministry – to see if anyone had commented on their ministry, only to discover a film-in-the-making named The Adventures of Paul and Marian. For fun, Paul wrote to the film’s producer, Jay Stern, to point out that as he and his wife were “the real Paul and Marian,” they should at least have a cameo. To his surprise, Stern obliged, re-writing the script to include a motorcycling scene in which Paul would play a vicar and Marian his glamorous wife, and rewarded the pair for their services with a holiday in New York. The Adventures of Paul and Marian is a romantic musical comedy shot entirely on greenscreen. It is now in postImage: Tom Henning production and will be released next year.

William Purves to open new embalming academy Scottish funeral director William Purves has revealed it will open the country’s first independent academy of embalming in the autumn. During an intensive one-week course, students will learn on a one-to-one basis all the practical skills needed to conduct standard, non-autopsy cases of embalming without supervision. With an emphasis on practical embalming, the academy’s students will train in state-of-theart facilities opened by William Purves in January following a £100,000 investment by the company. Dealing with an average of 1,500 cases every year, William Purves says it expects students to achieve in one week a target of 10 to 15 embalming cases. The training will be delivered by two resident embalmers – Martin Jeffrey and Ross Corney. “Viewing is an extremely important part of the grieving process and we know that many funeral directors want to allow viewing without any worries over the condition of the deceased. We are very proud to be able to pass on our knowledge and experience and to see new people coming into the profession,” explained Mr Corney.


Good feedback for first London Funeral Exhibition “Make your funeral as special as you” – that was the invitation from the organisers of the inaugural London Funeral Exhibition, held at Epping Forest Burial Park on the 9 and 10 July. Held in association with the British Institute of Funeral Directors (BIFD), the weekend brought together a range of specialist suppliers and leading industry figures, showcasing everything from coffins to Cinderella-style carriages and offering inspiration, ideas and practical advice. The exhibition also featured films, talks, displays and demonstrations, with all proceeds going to children’s bereavement charity Winston’s Wish. “Based on the growing trend for funerals to be personalised celebrations of life, we wanted to host an event that would enable people to find out more about the wide range of options available,” explained organiser Fran Hall. “People spend huge amounts of time planning milestones such as birthdays and weddings, so we’re asking ‘why not give a little thought to your funeral too?’ Feedback has been very encouraging.”

Second MAB ‘Dead Art’ competition to reward talented memorial photographers A Manchester-based memorial insurance company is sponsoring a photographic competition that encourages photographers of all abilities to submit their favourite images of memorials – both ‘then’ and ‘now’. Stoneguard Memorial Stone Insurance is the official partner of the second ‘Dead Art? Then and Now’ competition, and will hand over the £1,000 prize to the winning entrant. The contest is organised by the Memorial Awareness Board (MAB) – an organisation that works to promote and raise awareness of memorial issues in the United Kingdom. MAB campaign director Mike Dewar said: “Memorials and cemeteries have long been a favourite subject for photographers. There certainly is no shortage of unusual and interesting memorials throughout UK burial grounds, and this competition focuses on capturing and showcasing their unsung beauty.” To enter the competition or to view full terms and conditions, visit or search on Flickr or Facebook. The closing date is 2 September.

Moore’s celebrates new branch with open day Moore’s Traditional Funeral Directors, a long-established independent FD based in Waterlooville in Hampshire, celebrated the opening of a new branch in nearby Southbourne with a grand open day on the 25 June. The event was attended by local clergy, care home staff, businesses, suppliers and members of the community, who came to view the new premises and meet its staff. There was also a raffle in aid of Chichester’s St Wilfrid’s Hospice, and a crowd-pleasing display of a traditional horse-drawn hearse. “Our dedicated team in Southbourne is looking forward to serving the local community with the same commitment that Moore’s has given to the Waterlooville area,” said a statement from the company.


Three minute interview Peter Strain, managing director, Intimations-Online

Describe yourself in three words

Honest, caring, determined. What is your earliest memory?

Being told by my dad that I had a little sister. It was a huge surprise. When you were at school, what did you want to be and why?

An accountant – I was good at maths and thought that it was a natural progression. What was the first record you bought?

It was John Lennon’s Imagine, and I’m glad to say it’s still considered to be one of the best songs ever written and still relevant in these times. If you could have dinner with one person, who would you choose and why?

I’m tempted to say the Queen, because if I got an invitation to dinner I’d know that my business had done well. However, I think I would go for Paul McKenna. I’ve read a few of his books, and his insight into the human mind and what makes us the people we are is quite fascinating. What is the best advice you have been given?

There have been quite a few good pieces of advice over the years, but perhaps the best is not to try to do everything yourself. What is your next goal in life?

Our business has just been launched, so my next goal is to develop it to its full potential. Although the core business is hosting death and remembrance notices, the site was designed to offer so much more. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

My lifetime ambition is to see the world and different cultures, but there are so many places I’ve not been to yet. I would probably pick Australia because it is so far away, and try to add a few stop-overs along the way. What is your favourite quote or saying?

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde. What is the most important thing that your job has taught you?

To set clear goals, stay focused, and expect everything to take longer than planned.


Embracing heritage In the first of a new comment column series, Gus Nichols, president of FIAT-IFTA, considers the fascinating histories hidden away in the annals of funeral businesses


n 2014, our funeral business in Dublin celebrates 200 years of service. With this date approaching I have been thinking of ways to mark the moment – a glossy brochure, a black-tie knees-up, new stationery; that sort of thing. Unfortunately, while my late father Edward Nichols, who ran the business for over 40 years, was a great funeral director, he was a lousy archivist. Sometimes I think he deliberately skipped anything with even the vaguest historical interest. This is a shame, because our firm was there throughout great historical events – famine, wars, prosperity and economic depression, and deaths of the famous and not-so-famous. We still have our ledgers. Our daybook from 1955 to 1959 is on loan to the soon-to-be-opened 20th Century Museum of Dublin. I found a brass plaque from the front of a German train, ambushed in Togoland, West Africa, in 1914 by my great-great uncle James Nichols GCV (Gold Coast Volunteers) and a few photographs – not a lot else unfortunately. Perhaps it is all too easy today with camera-phones in everybody’s pocket and I am being a little unkind to those before me. Other Irish firms have marked their big birthdays well. James Brown and Sons, Belfast, put on a splendid party for its centenary in 2004. Fanagans of Dublin will be 200 years old in 2019, and the team are busy working away on a detailed history of the company for publication – there will be a big gathering for that birthday I can assure you. It begs the question, for me at least, as to how our other colleagues around the world record, catalogue and maintain their histories, and store their memories. I recently attended the Spanish trade show Funermostra, in Valencia. Part of the fair included a retrospective of Spanish funeral attire going back some 250 years and

it was fascinating to see how much formalwear had evolved over the years. The display was given added meaning by the new Memora Group uniform, just launched and given the all-star treatment by a top Spanish clothes designer. It makes our own uniform here look very dowdy indeed. Speaking to Mr Eduard Vidal (Memora Group chief executive) afterwards, he said that organising the uniform change had been one of the most stressful projects of his career! I am currently president of FIAT-IFTA (The World Organization of Funeral Operatives) and one of the tasks that the organisation has is to catalogue our funeral heritage. The project is in its infancy and in all probability will never truly come to an end. There are many cemetery museums and small funeral museums that I have had the pleasure of visiting, but I am sure there are so many more items of interest and records of note that are hidden in the dusty cupboards of funeral directors in every country. On the subject of cemetery museums, and at risk of being called a Tourist Board mole, may I warmly recommend a visit to the new Glasnevin Museum here in Dublin. Within the confines of the national cemetery, a most beautiful building has been built to house the records and curios of recent Irish history – it is a credit to the whole ‘funeral branch’ in Ireland, and indeed to all of us. If you are able to join us in Dublin during June 2012 for the 12th FIAT-IFTA International Convention, then you will have the chance to see the Glasnevin Museum first-hand. You will also be there to take part in our convention, both in Dublin and Belfast. Incidentally, 2012 marks the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, and Belfast will have a magnificent exhibition running for the entire year; one aspect of history that is not likely to ever be forgotten!

For more information about FIAT-IFTA, please visit



Hearse and verse

Farewell my friend Inspired by his experience of a recent funeral service, Peter Wyllie shares the touching poems that were chosen by the family


uring July it was my privilege to conduct a service for a very popular man who had died suddenly from heart failure. As you would expect, there was a large turnout for the service (probably around 200) and so much to say about this man who had been a loving husband, father and friend to many. I wanted to share with you some of the verse we used during his service. This first piece reflects his choices and decisions and their impact on his life: The road not taken Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim Because it was grassy and wanted wear, Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I marked the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost His friends had been a huge part of his life and two of them spoke at the funeral. It seemed right to have a poem that spoke back to them in return.

Farewell my friend It was beautiful as long as it lasted The journey of my life. I have no regrets whatsoever save the pain I’ll leave behind. Those dear hearts who love and care... And the strings pulling at the heart and soul... The strong arms that held me up When my own strength let me down. At every turning of my life I came across good friends, Friends who stood by me, Even when the time raced me by. Farewell, farewell my friends I smile and bid you goodbye. No, shed no tears for I need them not All I need is your smile. If you feel sad do think of me for that’s what I’ll like when you live in the hearts of those you love, remember then you never die. Rabindranath Tagore His family chose to share this poem by Michael Ashby: I am not gone I am not gone   While you cry with me I am not gone   While you smile with me  I am not gone   While you remember with me  I will come   When you call my name  I will come   When I feel your pain  I will come   On your final day  It could never be   That we    Would never be  We shall always   Be together    Forever I am not gone 

Edna St Vincent Millay wrote: “Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling into at night. I miss you like hell.” This wonderful poem sums up that feeling perfectly. Empty rooms In the silence of another sleepless night with shadows from the moon’s pale light Blues and blacks shine through the window pane Like shadows calling out your name. And did you ever know That although you said that you would go I never thought it would be so I watch the moonlight in the place where colours once bathed around your face And fragrant flowers are in the air The scent is here though you’re not there. And I wonder if you know That I never thought you’d go But you did and I’m alone. Morning goes with more regret of the evening and memories I can’t forget. Empty rooms and I climb the stairs where clothes lie draped on empty chairs. And I wonder if you knew how I always understood that although you said you’d go I never thought you would. (Taken from /2010/07/empty-rooms.html)

Peter Wyllie is an independent funeral celebrant and a member of the AOIC. For more information please visit or



Special circumstances Funerals should be deeply personal occasions, and, says Rev George Callander, some situations call for that extra bit of effort in order to aid the bereavement process

Rev George Callander is a minister of the Liberal Christian UK Open Free Church. A bereavement specialist practitioner, speaker and trainer, George is also director of the Society of Bereavement Practitioners. Please visit and for more information.

Opening up more personal touches... may prove to be a useful resource


e all know from professional, and doubtless personal experience, how difficult it can be when a loved one dies, and we, for whatever reason, find ourselves unable to attend the funeral service. In such circumstances we find ourselves dealing with a breadth of emotions, not least guilt. We may feel guilt that we have been unable to ‘be there’ for our deceased loved one on such an important occasion. Likewise, we may feel guilt that we find ourselves unable to support and comfort those family members and friends left behind. A funeral service fulfills a number of functions. At the most basic level, it allows us to dispose of the bodies of our dead hygienically, safely and ethically in accordance with all relevant legislation. But for the bereaved the funeral service also provides a religious or secular framework to bid farewell to a person who has influenced the lives of all who knew, loved and respected them. It is for this reason the quality and content of the service is so important: the service must above all accurately reflect the life and character of the person being commemorated. It is always my hope that a funeral congregation leaves a service feeling they had been able to recognise the deceased person and gain comfort from that. A good, well-planned, personal funeral service has a central part to play in the grief process. The service should be a cathartic experience, rather than a cold and impersonal one, for those attending. Consider, then, the situation where a grieving spouse or partner finds him or herself unable to share that catharsis at a time when it is perhaps most needed. Earlier this year I was honoured to conduct the funeral service for the late Douglas Maddison, a much-loved husband, father, grandfather and greatgrandfather. I had spent some considerable time with Dougie’s large and happy family, learning about his life and work. Sadly, on the day of the service I realised Dougie’s wife Elizabeth was not present. I later discovered she had become very ill and had been admitted to hospital that day. Mrs Maddison was deeply upset about missing her husband’s funeral service. At a time when she was very vulnerable, her family and I felt it was important Elizabeth was given the opportunity

for a formal leave-taking of her own. And so, when Mrs Maddison’s own health had improved we arranged for a simple but dignified outdoor service at her home, at which a rose tree would be planted in the centre of the garden. The day of the ceremony was bright and sunny. Surrounded by her family, Elizabeth Maddison was given the opportunity to bid farewell to her husband. The ceremony included prayers and readings leading to the planting and dedicating of the rose tree in Dougie’s memory. The junior members of the family released balloons, watching them rise into the early evening sky. The grown-ups of the family released illuminated Chinese lanterns into the sky. After watching the balloons and lanterns grow smaller and smaller as they drifted off, we retired to the house for refreshments. I was very pleased when Mrs Maddison told me how much such a simple and personal service helped her in her bereavement. Similarly, on the morning I wrote this article, I conducted a service to bury the ashes of an elderly chap whose funeral I had led. The interment of ashes was to take place in a new grave, some distance from the existing family plot. The family were upset they could not place their father’s ashes with other family members, so I devised a ceremony that helped bridge this problem. On route to the new grave, we stopped at the existing family grave, and placed the casket containing Mr Wheatley’s ashes on the grass of the existing grave, where I offered a simple prayer uniting the old with the new. After a moment of reflection we moved to the new grave for the short service of interment. Like the Maddison family before, Mr Wheatley’s family felt the simple, sincere and very personal nature of this service offered them real comfort at a difficult time. In conclusion, I am not for one moment suggesting such additional services as these are necessary for every grieving family. However, I believe that as bereavement care and funeral practices continually evolve, opening up more personal touches – having simple ‘adjunct’ services (which can be religious or secular) that can be offered to families who may need a little extra support – may prove to be a useful resource. With thanks to the Maddison and Wheatley families.

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A sense of place


Biodiversity and burials Michael Northcott hears about the

history and philosophies of the Sustainability Centre and burial ground in the South Downs, from site manager Al Blake

l Blake is not a priest, or indeed any other kind of celebrant. He is a conservationist and ecologist. And as burial site manager at the Sustainability Centre in the South Downs National Park, Blake has been helping people create a positive legacy for themselves and their loved ones with a unique practice. The Sustainability Centre focuses on education; it helps people of all ages, specialising in assistance for adults and children with learning difficulties. With permanent on-site support for people with disabilities, a large volunteer programme and more than 55 acres of parkland as a setting, the centre is a remarkable establishment. All proceeds from the burial site, which opened in 2000, go straight into a fund for the continued services of the centre, meaning that every client who chooses the site is doing his or her bit for an important community facility. “Families love that,” says Blake, “because out of something as emotionally difficult as death, they can see something so positive coming from it.” Blake runs the burial site with a team of four, and to remain in keeping with the ethos of conservation, all graves are hand-dug by that team. “We don’t have mortuary facilities. I’m a conservationist and ecologist – not a priest, or a mortician. The burial site is a conservation area where we are gradually removing old conifers which have low biodiversity,” he adds. “We plant trees on top of burials – ones that belong on the South Downs. The part of the site that has been open for 10 years is now a haven of biodiversity. When families come to see us they get a lot of comfort from seeing what happens here.” The fact that the burial site hosts no buildings or permanent fixtures has made partnerships attractive to local farmers. While there are no plans to increase the size of the existing site, proposals to open other sites on nearby land are being considered. “We may make proposals to local farmers. Land can be returned to its original use because there is nothing built on it.” Asked if clients have any concerns about burial land being returned to agricultural use, Blake insists that families are on board with the environmentallyfriendly philosophy of the facility: “By the time people have been here to bury someone at the site,” he says, “they have embraced a broader message about sustainable living.” For the five years that Blake has spent as site manager, burials have contributed thousands of pounds to the funds of the education centre. Last year alone they raised £80,000 for the charitable pot, and it is this kind of sustainable investment which Blake believes has allowed the centre “to come on in leaps and bounds.” “My job is to empower the families,” says Blake, whose relationship with local funeral directors is positive, despite some of his clients opting for more DIY-style funerals. The centre is owned by the Earthworks Trust, a charity set up in 1995. The charity acquired what is now the six-acre burial site from the Ministry of Defence, and interest has been growing in Blake’s services ever since. Having buried 937 people on the site, the team is now providing around 130 burials per year, with two people employed to dig graves without the aid of machinery on a full-time basis.

A sense of place

“By the time people have been here to bury someone at the site, they have embraced a broader message about sustainable living” Blake is hugely proud of the philosophies behind his work. “Over the last 150 years we’ve had very little choice about funeral parks, so having the option of burial parks is freedom and that’s why it’s growing. “Lots of us have been to a funeral and felt like a spectator; a voyeur, rather than a grieving relative. If just 10 per cent of my clients come away appreciating the bright atmosphere at a burial park like this one, then I’m doing my job.” But perhaps the greatest source of pride for him has been convincing the sceptics and traditionalists that an eco-burial without a priest can still be a highly valuable and rewarding choice. “I’ve converted the biggest cynics – those who originally wanted a cremation and who have changed their mind. “The fact is that 11 years ago when our burial site first opened, the clergy wouldn’t come near it – they thought it was too alternative. There are now members of the clergy in attendance at 50 to 60 per cent of our funerals. In fact, three have been buried here themselves!” Blake makes a point of leaving an open-ended invitation to potential clients from all over the country: “There is no catchment area for the Sustainability Centre or for the burial ground. We make it open to everyone.” Additionally, the centre aims to make its services as accessible as possible – when schools cannot afford to transport the children, the centre often provides some subsidy to help make the trip possible. The culture of personal attachment to the site has resulted in strong and sustained support from a growing number of people, including clients and friends of clients. Al Blake and the rest of the staff at the centre are a shining example of the positivity that can be gleaned from death and the funeral process – the centre is founded on an assumption that the local community and the environment can benefit from the most profound and often most difficult of human experiences. “A lot of our volunteers get involved with the centre because they’ve buried a partner here, and many of our clients keep a relationship with us after their experience – it’s all about taking possession and contributing to our work.”



Coffin choices FTP Ecocoffins Ltd

FTP Ecocoffins will soon be adding another model to its range of woven coffins. The Abaca coffin, in both a traditional and oval shape, is made from a banana-related eco-sustainable plant by a farming co-operative in the Philippines – one of the poorest countries in the world. The interior of each coffin is lined in pandan material and the coffins themselves are an attractive golden yellow colour. Information: 01584 819 981 or

Eco-coffins are growing increasingly popular, both for their green credentials and their aesthetics, and there are now numerous designs available to your clients. Here is a small selection…

Colourful Coffins

Colourful Coffins says that its wooden coffins are as ecofriendly as its cardboard ones, because the company always uses biodegradable paper wraps instead of vinyl, ensuring the coffins are approved for both burial and cremation. Families can choose from a wide range of styles, such as the colourful parrots shown here, or choose a completely bespoke design for their loved one. Environmentally-friendly inks and materials are an essential part of Colourful Coffins’ green credentials and the company offsets its greenhouse gases when one of its coffins is cremated, and plants a tree when one is buried. Information: 01865 779 172 or

JC Atkinson

JC Atkinson’s range of Reflections picture coffins are designed to be unique and personal and are also made to strong environmental standards. The Reflections coffins are made from formaldehyde-free Ecologique board, made with 80 per cent waste wood and 20 per cent FSC sustainable wood. The imagery is printed onto FSC certified paper, which is laminated onto the coffin using water-based glue. This coffin comes with a natural biodegradable cotton lining and can be supplied with or without handles. The company’s in-house design team can produce a coffin that not only reflects the personality of the loved one, but is also kind to the environment.

APL’s Mahogany Lichfield coffin in satin finish is a traditional shape, eco-friendly and is just one of the company’s Inspirational range of solid coffins, created from solid poplar which comes from an FSC Accredited sustainable source. Competitively priced, the Lichfield is a great choice for families seeking a traditional, solid, yet environmentally-friendly coffin.

Information: 0191 415 1516 or

Information: 01298 813 444 or

W Gadsby & Son Ltd


W Gadsby & Son has been sourcing and producing fine quality willow products for almost 150 years. The company successfully launched a range of new coffins at the recent NFE event, all of which are made from sustainable materials, without the use of any nails, staples or other metals. Two new coffins are now available from stock: the traditional shaped white and rustic willow coffins each come in three different sizes. The rustic coffin (pictured) is one of the greenest that Gadsby offers, with the rustic look achieved by leaving the willow in its natural state, with the bark still in place. The willow for the white willow coffin is produced in the springtime when the bark can be peeled to expose the natural paler colouring. Information: 01278 437 123, or





The WinterWillow woven willow eco-coffins are made in Cambridge by a social enterprise team of volunteers, staff and service users. The company delivers a comprehensive basketry training programme supporting skills acquisition and offering employment to people with experience of homelessness. “We craft our woven eco-coffins with passion and care, using only sustainably sourced English willow. Our trading profits go to support the work of Wintercomfort for the Homeless – a UK charity that provides a range of services and support for individuals in need,” the company explains. Information: 01223 518 140, or


This woodgrain cardboard coffin is available exclusively from Ecoffins. It has been tested to hold a deceased weight of up to 23 stone and the handles may be used for carrying purposes. Its liner is fully waterproof and is made of a biodegradable starch material rather than plastic. For more details please contact Chris Garland using the telephone number below. Information: 01795 830 688 or

Musgrove Willows

Musgrove Willows has been growing willow since 1928. The company sorts and prepares the willow before its environmentally-friendly willow coffins are skilfully woven and crafted by basket makers on its willow farm in Westonzoyland. Available as either a traditional or round-ended style coffin, they are suitable for burial, cremation, woodland and green burial sites. Unique, bespoke coffins in a variety of colours or styles can be made on request. “With our family firm, you can be assured of an exceptionally high quality product and personal service at a reasonable and competitive cost,” the company adds. Information: 01278 691 105 or

Creative Coffins

Daisy coffins are a natural individual alternative to the traditional style coffin. Designed with beauty and strength in mind, Daisy coffins combine sophistication with quality. They are hand-crafted and environmentally friendly, made from 100 per cent natural products. “We supply natural, biodegradable coffins and caskets, all hand-crafted from banana leaf, water hyacinth and wicker,” the company says. “We also stock an extensive range of wooden, ceramic, silk and biodegradable leaf urns.”

Creative Coffins’ cardboard coffins are manufactured from environmentally sympathetic cartonboard, catering to the needs of clients looking for a greener alternative, and also those looking for something personal that truly represents the life of their loved one. The company’s most recent commission was to send second world war Spitfire mechanic Frank Palmer off in style. The family supplied some treasured family photos, many of which had deteriorated badly with age, and the skilled designers at Creative Coffins were able to retouch them so that they were clear and crisp. In addition, the team personalised the Spitfire itself with Frank’s initials and adorned the coffin with some of his favourite, quirky sayings.

Information: 01803 865 437 or

Information: 01481 714 820 or

Daisy Coffins

From specially commissioned Spitfire coffins, to a wide range of 'off the shelf' designs, we believe the quality of our products makes a real difference in giving your clients a coffin that fully meets, and often exceeds their expectations. Our coffins are licenced for burial and cremation, certified up to 20 stone, require no lining and are available on a three day turnaround. To find out how we can help you offer clients a truly memorable coffin, call or email us today.

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01481 714820


Funeral tributes

Changing shapes Mikaela Hubble

of Peter H Smith Ltd, and the company’s MD Ann Rainford, also chairperson of the Flower Wholesale Trade Association, discuss current trends in floral tributes


loral tributes have always been a very important part of a funeral and they can make a huge difference to a very sad day. With this in mind we are certainly noticing that times are changing as far as funeral tributes are concerned. In the past it was commonplace for a family to order a large cross or other significant tribute as well as floral displays from each family member and friends. These days bereaved families are often asking for donations to a chosen charity rather than each mourner sending a floral tribute. Today’s trend definitely focuses on one or two more impressive pieces – a large coffin spray, the name of a relation or a bespoke tribute, for example. Families are often brought together to discuss a suitable tribute and this can be a comforting point in the bereavement process. It is important to know what is now available to the florist, as this has also changed dramatically over the last few years. There is still a huge demand for letter tributes, with ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ frames being the most popular, but also names, nicknames and phrases. With relations often being proud of their family ties, it is now quite common for a grandma, a sister and an aunt tribute to be requested in addition to the mum tribute, all for the same cortege. The full alphabet is also available in foam letters. We are often asked to supply nicknames or something else apt. We have recently supplied ‘Gone shopping’ to a husband with an obvious sense of humour, and ‘Fairy’ to another customer, although it is not always obvious why they have made their choice! Often families will club together for one large coffin spray, which is still a popular choice, although there is now also a huge range of ready-made shapes available as well as bespoke floral tributes. Ready-made shapes are a popular option, with relatives wanting to choose something that is relevant to the deceased person’s life. There are hammers, spanners, saws and trowels for workmen; fish for fishermen; owls, pigeons and swans for bird lovers; treble clefs, guitars, violins and notes for musicians; watering cans, wheelbarrows and spades for gardeners; motorbikes, caravans and cars for enthusiasts; and even scissors for hairdressers – the list goes on!

Funeral tributes

As the floral tribute becomes a more individual memory it is important that clients are fully aware of the range of tributes available There is also a bespoke 2D or 3D funeral frame service available to florists, where almost any shape can be chosen and made into a fantastic piece of art. Recent commissions include a Winnie the Pooh, Betty Boop, a 3D top hat, and a flying dove with feathered wings, all very meaningful to the family concerned. A grieving family recently ordered a 3D Peppa Pig for a child’s funeral, as it was her favourite television character. We are also finding a trend towards the tribute returning home with the funeral party. Recently a husband insisted on taking the 3D West Highland terrier he had ordered for his wife’s funeral home with him, where he watered it carefully for the following three weeks. The gentleman had taken great comfort from the presence of the floral terrier – their real one was so loved by his wife – and it certainly played a part in helping with the grieving process. We are also finding that families are looking for more natural wreaths to go alongside ‘green’ funerals and burials. Completely biodegradable wreaths are now becoming sought-after. This is something that is relatively new to florists and we are regularly asked for twig crosses and hearts for these occasions. Although this is becoming a more popular choice and demand is definitely growing, supplies are still quite limited but we predict this is going to be a huge growth area in the coming years. So as the floral tribute becomes a more individual memory it is important that clients are fully aware of the range of tributes available; the fact that practically anything is possible is not widely appreciated. It is also important that the funeral director is aware of all the products available, adding to the personal service that they can offer by giving the customer access to the most appropriate tribute. Stronger ties with a good florist can certainly benefit all parties – why not ask a florist for a presentation or catalogue of their previous work as well as other tributes on offer to aid a grieving family in choosing what suits them best? It certainly gives florists the opportunity to use their artistic talent to make them stand out from the crowd. In this modern, fast-moving world we live in, funerals still play a major part in our lives. Trends are reflecting this ever-changing society, and as far as funeral tributes are concerned anything is possible – the only limit being the depth of our imagination.

Supplier listing David Austin Roses: Interflora: Peter H Smith Ltd: The Flower Preservation Workshop:




Flying the green flag

More and more of us are making the effort to reduce our impact on the environment during our daily lives, so why shouldn’t this extend to plans for death? Kelly Clark discovers how one company is offering a complete eco-friendly funeral


hen JC Atkinson was established in 1936, the challenge facing it was getting through the depression and world war two. The company survived and continued to grow, starting to make ready-made coffins using veneered oak laminated onto more costeffective solid woods like pine, green elm and obeche in the 1960s. That process was replaced later when chipboard became the standard wood used to make the majority of coffins, as it is today. Back in the company’s infancy, nobody could have predicted how the world would change – how it would need to shift to protect its future and how businesses would have to develop and diversify to keep afloat and to keep moving with the ever-changing times.

Julian Atkinson arrived at JC Atkinson as the third generation. With him, he brought a wealth of ideas and vision to move the business into the modern times. He says: “I joined the company formally in 1986 after leaving school, and worked in the factory for several years learning the various coffin-making trades. “I then left the company and trained as an electrician and set up a business installing alarm systems, which I eventually sold after trading for five years. This gave me a fantastic insight into business and I also saw other businesses and their owners, which helped form my experience and vision.”


Along with co-director and deputy managing director Ian Handley, Julian has developed the company so that it no longer simply manufactures coffins, but also provides goods and services to the funeral trade with an aim of helping to reduce the environmental impact of a funeral. “I am personally involved with the National Association of Funeral Directors’ Environmental Advisory Group and I am a member of the All-Party Advisory Group on Climate Change,” Julian explains. “This year, JC Atkinson has launched Greener Goodbyes, the only dedicated funeral package designed to reduce the environmental impact of a funeral.” Greener Goodbyes is a package which can be offered by the funeral profession to members of the public who wish to have a greener funeral. Operating as a ‘package deal’, it offers consumers a choice of eco-coffin; a natural memorial in the form of a choice of tree planting or sponsorship initiatives; and the opportunity to leave a community legacy and rebalance the carbon emissions of a typical funeral. “The Greener Goodbyes package offers all of this at one standard cost and is only available through the established funeral trade or pre-payment market,” Julian adds. The three main aspects to the package are: • A choice of coffin – a traditional pine coffin, a Natural Legacy Wool Coffin, a willow coffin or a personalised Reflections picture coffin. These different types of coffin have been designed to appeal to different people, but all have been recommended as eco – given details are known of their carbon emissions, where they are made and what they are made from; and they are all biodegradable and their carbon emissions are all similar. • A natural memorial. Consumers can choose one of three simple choices – to have a tree to plant (delivered to their door), to donate the tree for planting in an area of the UK and Ireland, or to donate the cash equivalent for sponsorship to protect the rainforest. • The community legacy – designed to rebalance the carbon emissions of a typical funeral. Greener Goodbyes has calculated the carbon emissions associated, not only with its coffins, but also with all its back-of-house activities and the actual funeral. In reference to the latter aspect, Julian says: “Once we understood this [carbon emission] value, we were able to rebalance it by funding the installation of energysaving measures in homes. This legacy not only lowers the carbon emissions, but also benefits families in need by reducing their fuel costs. Obviously, this does not happen on day one, but rather over a period of time – in a typical case, two years. This initiative is fulfilled through the national charity Groundwork Green Doctor service.” The Greener Goodbyes service is in its infancy and is a part of JC Atkinson. It is hoped as it grows it will become a separate entity with all profits being used to fund further environmental research. Leading the way when it comes to eco-friendly funerals, JC Atkinson believes the need has come about due to a change in views rather than it being a temporary fad. “Funerals and customs have changed over the years. However, I regard the changes which are

“I regard the changes which are happening now not as simple trends, but as a real shift in attitude” happening now not as simple trends, but as a real shift in attitude,” Julian enthuses. “To explain, in former years people used to look to institutions like the state, government or church for guidance. Now with more freedom, mobility and better education, people are more likely to express their own desires. And this is exactly what is happening with a funeral; it is now acceptable to style a funeral that is more meaningful to the person. This could be in the choice of coffin, the type of service or the mode of transport. Even if we disregard the barriers in cost, we know most people would like their funeral to be personalised. “The challenge to funeral directors is to offer these choices in a structured and practical way. I think Greener Goodbyes will be one of these offerings. With regard to the funeral, Greener Goodbyes is a package which enhances choice and deals with the concern people have about the environmental impact of the funeral. Most people who consider the environment are happy this is a good start.” So, how should funeral directors ensure they are offering all the alternative options to their environmentally-aware customers? “If people are free to have the kind of funeral service they wish, Greener Goodbyes can supply useful information on how to make the funeral ‘greener’ by providing guidance on best practice such as considering travel plans. We found transport had a big impact on the carbon footprint of a funeral, considering the distance mourners had to travel and the number of vehicles involved,” says Julian. “In consideration of the environment, it is correct that the funeral director or arranger should help with this. Greener Goodbyes, in the background, can help by providing the professional research and advice on a number of topics. It is important with this agenda to remember that members of the public use funeral directors to help them arrange their appropriate funeral. They should not be controlling, nor are they engaged as eco-campaigners. However, if they are asked, they should certainly offer some informed and helpful recommendations, to help modify the funeral or the funeral plan to be greener.”




Ticking the boxes William Hunneybel, managing director of Greenfield Creations, shares some illuminating information about the history of corrugated cardboard, and his company’s use of it What is the history of corrugated cardboard? Corrugated cardboard was first patented in 1856. It was originally produced for a liner in tall hats, which were commonplace in the funeral industry. At the time it was called pleated paper. When mass production began in 1874, in its single face form, it was also used for wrapping bottles, lamps and chimneys. A few short years later corrugated cardboard had become the world’s favourite packaging material and still is today. The world has recognised corrugated as a renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and compostable product for over 100 years and embraced it for its many uses and its environmental benefits. Where would we be today if corrugated had not been invented? Can you tell us more about the environmentally friendly aspect of this material? Corrugated- and paper-based products surround us in our everyday lives – you only need to look at your daily activities to appreciate the level of use. All the environmentally conscious among us are contributing to the UK’s recycling schemes and landfill prevention. With a recycling rate of over 80 per cent, corrugated has the best UK recycling record of any packaging material. As a consequence of recycling, at least 70 per cent of the materials used for Greenfield Creations cardboard coffins will come from post-consumer waste. This contribution by the eco-conscious among us will aid in reducing the consumption of invaluable raw materials a little longer. It is important to remember that the vast majority of the timber from trees goes to construction and furniture making. Papermakers increasingly use the forest thinning and sawmill waste. What are Greenfield Creations’ own green credentials? Our biodegradable/compostable cardboard is made up of biodegradable waste – a type of waste typically originating from plant or animal sources, which may be degraded by other living organisms. At least 70 per cent of our product is made from recycled paper or cardboard, while under 30 per cent is made up of cornstarch glue and the introduction of new wood fibres, which are a necessity for maintaining strength and stability. Although recycling makes economic and environmental sense, recovered paper and cardboard cannot be used indefinitely. Every time a fibre is recycled it loses some of its strength and the fibre length decreases. You can only recycle cardboard a maximum of six times

as it becomes unstable and new fibres need to be introduced. All our new fibres are purchased from Forest certified sources. Our cardboard supplier is FSC, PEFC and SFI accredited. Cornstarch glues are used during construction. Cornstarch is a naturally abundant nutrient carbohydrate, which can be found in seeds, fruits, plant stems and notably, corn. Calico lining and natural rope handles complete the biodegradable coffin. Our coffin is manufactured completely in-house and ‘hand’ assembled. Even the glue is applied by a regular paint roller. Our materials are manufactured 78 miles away from our premises in Ridgewell and it takes just one articulated lorry to ship enough material to us to produce at least 1,500 coffins. How important is it to observe an entirely ethical process? For a ‘natural burial ground’, the ethical chain from the raw materials of the coffin, through the manufacturer and supplier, to the quality of the burial itself, is fundamental to its reputation. If one part of the chain is broken, its integrity is compromised, as is that of the funeral director aiming to cater to the needs of a family who wishes for a green burial. What does the future hold for Greenfield Creations? Greenfield Creations has been committed, for 20 years, to investment in newer/greener technology as it becomes available, to keep our manufacturing facility at the forefront of the industry. We are encouraged by the fact that the funeral profession, in more recent years, is developing good environmental practice. This is something to be welcomed and I endorse forward thinking in regard to the world’s resources.

Call 01892 752130 For further information and to view our price list please visit or email


Green Products

ARKA Ecopod Ltd

The ARKA Acorn Urn is an eye-catching alternative for the storage or burial of ashes. Made from recycled paper and 100 per cent biodegradable, Acorn Urns are finished with acorn green mulberry paper, russet red handmade paper, or Dutch metal gold leaf. They can also be supplied with a textured, 100 per cent cotton drawstring bag. ARKA says the urn is particularly popular with families wanting an appropriate and stylish container for the interment of ashes in a natural setting or woodland burial site. Information: 01273 508 207, or

Amspac Funeral Bags

On its range of environmentally-friendly funeral bags, Amspac’s managing director Andy Steavenson comments: “The environment has become an issue that society has embraced. It is only natural that people have extended this responsibility and way of thinking to include how they make arrangements for the passing of loved ones. Amspac Funeral Bags introduced environmentally sound presentation carriers last year and has extended the range to include natural Kraft paper, made from 100 per cent recyclable paper, and Jute, a natural plant that offers one of the most durable and sustainable materials. “We also work with clients to create bespoke eco-presentation carriers, a good example being the canvas casket presentation bag, pictured, that we worked with the Midlands Co-operative to create.” Information: 01892 613 217 or


Fibrous Ltd is now supplying a range of environmentally-friendly products available from its brand new online trade shop. Products include its popular scatter tubes, new airbrush design 100 per cent biodegradable urns, and its modern bamboo urn. For a closer look, visit Fibrous’s website. Information: 0845 450 8935 or

J Funerals

J Funerals, well known for its innovative jute coffins and accessories, has now introduced a range of eco-friendly jute urn and casket bags. As a division of the Natural Bag Company Group, J Funerals is now part of one of the UK’s largest suppliers of jute bags. “As the funeral trade strives to become more environmentally-aware, these ethically-produced bags provide a real alternative to plastic and paper,” the company states. All bags can be supplied plain or printed with a company logo. Call Sandra Thomson at J Funerals for a free sample bag and further details. Information: 01382 732 767


The elegant Dolce urn is one product in APL’s range of biodegradable glass urns. Made from a special glass composition that dissolves into the earth, it is an eyecatching way to present ashes and offers a stylish yet environmentally-friendly method of interment. When these patented urns come into contact with moist soil, the glass-dissolving process activates a process that takes approximately 15 years. The urns are also available in crystal and in other styles. Information: 01298 813 444 or

ARKA Acorn Urns

Association of Independent Celebrants

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Individually boxed Made from 100% recycled moulded paper The close fitting lid makes it ideal for storage or burial of ashes 100% cotton textured drawstring ashes bags also available Discounts on orders of 6 and 12 urns *Gold leaf â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Dutch metal gold leaf

ARKA Ecopod Ltd

We have created our own in-house Training Courses For details of courses send us an email or visit our web site

37 Western Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 1AF 01273 508207

Email :

Web site :



Read all about it!

Anthony Hill, director of the Somerset Willow Company, provides Louise

Hoffman with an update on all the latest news from the firm We last spoke in December 2010. Can you give us an update on all the developments that have taken place at Somerset Willow since then? The biggest development that the company has seen since we last spoke has been with our sister company, Somerset Willow Growers. Over the past six months we have revamped the website and added a large variety of new products, all in keeping with the basket making and craft sector. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve worked really hard marketing our willow and weaving materials for the past five years and feel we have succeeded in bringing willow growing in the UK into the 21st century. Do you believe the popularity of eco-funerals has continued to grow during this time? Yes certainly, from the results of our sales figures the green burial has definitely grown in popularity. I think this is partly due to people wanting to make their funeral arrangements as environmentally friendly as possible, but also because they prefer the look of a woven coffin to that of a more traditional solid coffin. Did you enjoy a successful show at the recent National Funeral Exhibition? Yes, we had a very successful exhibition. It was our opportunity to showcase two new coffins that we sell through our sister company Natural Woven Products, and they were both very well received. There were considerably more companies selling environmentallyfriendly products at the show; this again reflects the growing trend and increasing public awareness of the environment and the impact we have on it. What makes your coffins environmentally friendly? There are a number of reasons why I believe our willow coffins have achieved an excellent environmental status in the UK. Willow is a highly renewable crop, which can be mass-produced using little

or no mechanical processing. In fact, willow has been known to grow up to nine feet tall annually, and once harvested will re-grow back to the same height within a single year. Our willow coffins are finished and produced in our workshops in Somerset and therefore do not need to be transported over huge distances around the world, saving huge amounts of net carbon emissions. In addition to these points, willow tends to decompose much more quickly than conventional hardwoods. Finally, what are your plans for the next year? As a company that has a long-standing ethos supporting the ecoproducts that we manufacture, we are also continuously looking at new developments to increase our existing product range. We are already in discussions at design stage of new products that we plan to launch next year. As a responsible company we believe one of our most important assets is our workforce, and our plan for next year is to increase the number of employees. Part of this action plan will be to implement a new apprentice training scheme. We are also proud to announce that our company football team won the Pitch Invasion Championship league for Bridgwater â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a great boost for team moral! Finally, we are also looking closely at efficiency savings and this will not only help us to save money, but also to lower our overall carbon footprint.

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A fitting tribute Steve Hoare of Tributes Ltd outlines his companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history and products

Can you tell us a little about the company? Richard Bush founded the business in 1994, supplying wooden caskets to the pet funeral market from his workshop in West Sussex. As customer demand grew the company helped set up a manufacturing base in Romania, supporting development schemes to help the country as it emerged from a difficult time in its history. Connections with Thailand led to production being extended there in the 1990s, and Tributes was able to provide financial aid in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. In 2004 Tributes Ltd began to supply the human funeral trade with eco-friendly woven coffins. These bamboo and willow coffins are hand woven by highly skilled craftspeople in rural homesteads in China, using traditional skills. The work Tributes provides gives support to local economies. Tributes has always taken seriously its responsibility for managing global resources and insists suppliers source raw materials responsibly and sustainably, ensuring products are made from natural, biodegradable materials where possible. The company takes care to minimise the environmental impact of transporting products and uses recycled packaging materials wherever possible.

What other products do you provide? In 2007 Richard created the Scatter Tube as an attractive, biodegradable alternative to plastic scattering containers. With help from Allsops CTF Ltd, sole distributor to independent FDs for this product, Tributes Scatter Tubes are now extremely popular, with new designs added regularly. A recent introduction is the Meadow Tributes range with Scatter Tubes, matching condolence cards and native wildflower seed packs in exclusive watercolour designs. A â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Traditional Styleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; willow coffin was also introduced earlier this year, and further new designs are in development. As well as coffins and Scatter Tubes, Tributes has a wide range of solid wood caskets, ceramic urns, Tribute Frames and biodegradable Scatter Pouches. And, of course, there is still a large range of products for the pet funeral market. I understand you can offer a bespoke service? Our in-house team provides a full design-to-production service for bespoke Scatter Tubes, ashes caskets and other products. Our recently acquired laser engraving facility enables us to provide personalised plaques and caskets. What are your goals for the coming year? Tributes has grown substantially every year since its formation, and prides itself on outstanding quality and customer service and we are keen to promote our full range of products more widely and build on our strong customer base. We have a number of new products in development, which will be launched in the coming months, expanding the business into new markets.

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Strength in partnership Kevin Rayner, MD of KPRayner Ltd, explains his company’s eco-offering We heard about the Roland engravers that you supply in the May 2011 issue, but can you briefly refresh our memories as to their applications and capabilities? Our partner is Roland, the worldwide manufacturer of electronic keyboards and musical instruments, printing and engraving solutions. KPR Roland engraving systems cover the whole spectrum of engraving, from funeral plates to keepsake items, and materials such as wood, brass, glass and slate. Roland engraving systems deliver output of the highest quality with flexibility and precision. How does the manufacturing process take into account the environment? In the words of the president of the Japanese manufacturer Roland: “We manufacture products and pursue business activities with consideration for customers and also for the global environment

and society as a whole.” In 2007 Roland enacted the Guidelines for Environmentally Conscious Product Design. Each product is assessed, and upon completion carries the green ECO sticker to show that the machine has achieved the Roland ECO guidelines in terms of reduction of power consumption; reduction of packaging materials; reduction of noise and electromagnetic emissions; recycling; and the reduction of hazardous chemical substances. What response did you receive at the NFE? The NFE show was absolutely phenomenal and worth the effort and sore feet! We had such a positive response from existing customers and new. The switch from manual engraving to KPR Roland computerised systems is happening very fast. It was great to meet the funeral directors and get the chance to show them the benefits of the Roland range. We would like to extend our thanks to all those who visited our stand and apologise to anyone we missed! Finally, what are your company’s plans for the coming year? The Coventry show has had a huge impact on our business. The KPR team are working all hours to keep up with the demand. The year ahead will see us installing new machines, training funeral staff and carrying on with our dedicated after-sale maintenance support. We launched the Rayner’s Keepsake range at the show, and the success has been incredible, with funeral directors buying in to both the technology and the gift range.




Market growth 2011 is proving to be a busy year for the Ecoffins team, as Louise Hoffman discovers in conversation with office manager Chris Garland Firstly, can you update us on all the happenings at Ecoffins since we spoke in July last year? We are delighted to have added two new members to our team in the past year – Tracy Baxendale has joined our marketing department (expect to hear from her soon if you have not done so already); and John Macmillan has taken on a stock control and logistics role. You may meet him delivering products or setting up stands at various shows. Our Investors in People Award has been upgraded to Bronze, after an extensive and intensive examination process. After a number of delays due to large amounts of snow at the beginning of the year, and some bureaucratic hoops that had to be jumped through, we finally commenced building our purpose-built 15,000 square foot warehouse and office complex in March this year (pictured below). The weather has since been very kind to us and it is now nearing completion. We are currently landscaping the site; planting the green roof on the warehouse; covering the warehouse in locally sourced larch timber cladding; and waiting for the glass walls of the office to arrive. And how have you been developing your product range? Our latest product is a fabric cover made in 10 colour variations from two different materials – banana leaf woven with cotton and fragrant root woven with cotton. These covers are designed to fit on our Environ

cardboard casket, which we have been supplying for seven or eight years. The covers cost just £38 each and you can see a picture of them on this page and the facing page. Do you have any further plans in the pipeline? We certainly do have some further ideas under development, but unfortunately at this stage I’m unable to reveal more. Have you received much feedback from customers and NFE visitors in regards to your products and the concept of eco-burial in general? The NFE proved to be another excellent platform for our company and products. Visitors were pleased to see coffins and urns ‘up close’ to be able to see first hand the excellent workmanship and standard of materials used. Lots of people commented on the stand itself and one even said it was the best stand of its type there! Our Pine Eco Casket received a lot of attention and praise for its ‘superb quality’. How have you seen attitudes to eco-burial change since your last FST interview? The general public are definitely more aware of natural burial grounds now and are certainly making more enquiries as to where their nearest one is. I think they realise that burial in these grounds is the way forward to preserve our land and enhance the landscape. We believe it is onwards and upwards for the trend! What are your aims and predictions for the future, for both Ecoffins and the wider market? New materials are always being sought in line with the company’s eco-friendly ethos. We have the extensive product range to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for ecofriendly coffins to all funeral directors in the country and beyond, as we now have distributors in a number of countries overseas. This shows that eco-friendly funerals are becoming more widespread in many regions beyond the UK.



Olympia Metal Spinners

Olympia Metal Spinners is proud to announce the addition of three new products to its range. It currently has either gold- or silver-coloured lids, but is also now able to offer two more colours for its grave vase containers – pink and blue – making them a perfect choice from children’s memorials. The company has also introduced a new colour for its Adel urn. These urns are popular as a cheaper alternative to some of its dearer urns and come in a range of colours, although silver effect is the most popular. The urn has a capacity of three litres. Information: 0113 240 1070, or

E Business Resources

Internet marketing consultant E Business Resources Ltd has launched its brand new directory for the funeral service profession. The website offers a solution to the problem of how to have a guaranteed high-profile presence on the internet, offering subscribers the option of a 250-word description and photographic image depicting each business. “It is essential to any business owner that they keep in touch with the everchanging market and its customers,” said managing director Martin Deakin. “We have chosen to provide a professional and stylish website that offers an affordable solution to anyone wishing to stay ahead of the competition.” Information: or

Steve Soult

How does an independent funeral director get the message across about the superior value and service he or she offers to his or her community? Funeral Director Websites, powered by I-Netco, is built to be search-engine-friendly and available to suit all budgets, allowing you to market your services online with a funeral director web design package. “Our clients are all receiving regular enquiries from their websites, providing a return on investment while enhancing their brand with the increasing number of people researching services online,” the company said. “A professional website with search-engine-friendly content can be one of the most cost effective moves you make for your business.”

Steve Soult Limited’s Signature range of coffins are highly individual and fashioned from the choicest oak and mahogany, making the most of the woods’ natural grain and colour variations. Each one is finished by hand in a dedicated workshop located on the edge of Sherwood Forest, so no two coffins are exactly the same, making them uniquely appropriate for a time of personal reflection and emotion. An independent, familyrun company with 30 years’ experience in coffinmaking, Steve Soult Limited is a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.

Information: 0191 420 2778, or

Information: 01623 721 123 or



Travelling in style Jessica Mortimer, proprietor of Your Chariot, tells Louise Hoffman about the brand new trike hearse service her company is able to offer First and foremost, can you tell us the story behind your rather magnificent trike hearse? Our idea for the trike hearse arose during a trip to the USA, where we came across a similar concept to the motorbike hearses, which are already offered in the UK. Although we loved the design of the hearse we saw, we saw a gap in the market for a complete unit hearse, rather than a bike and carriage. Upon our return to the UK we approached Boom Trikes and together we designed our trike hearse. The build process commenced in August 2010 when we had to find a compatible â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;donorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; trike and remove the back two wheels before transferring them 15 feet backwards in order to support the hearse part of the vehicle. Our first setback came when we realised that single rear wheels would not be enough to support the structure, and therefore we had to use a double wheel rear base. Our trike then became the first ever pentacycle hearse, making our vehicle totally unique. In May 2011 our hearse was more or less complete, with only minor changes to be made. What is your biking background, and what led you to turn your interest into a business venture? Although my younger brother Samuel (co-founder of Your Chariot) and I have always had a huge interest in bikes, our interest in the trike hearse was aroused when travelling across the states of America, as previously mentioned. After a great deal of investigation we saw that other companies were offering motorbike funerals, however we feel we have identified a totally different concept in our trike hearse. We believe that the vehicle is not so overtly motorbike-orientated and therefore this vehicle is a viable and different alternative to the traditional funeral

hearse for anybody who has requested a funeral with a difference. We do not just offer it to motorbike enthusiasts. How does the trike hearse enhance a funeral? Our trike offers the client an alternative to the traditional funeral hearse. We understand that not all people wish to conform to traditional funeral services, and for this reason we offer our vehicle as a stepping-stone to a unique funeral. We offer the client their choice of music to be played from the trike throughout the final journey, or upon entering the final resting place; whatever is requested. This adds that individual and personal feeling to the day. We ensure that we listen to the needs of the family and understand that each funeral may differ. We want to help make each and every funeral as unique to the individual as possible. How can funeral directors work with you to help their clients achieve a fitting tribute to their loved ones? Our company provides one driver and one driverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s assistant to all funerals, however it is important to understand that our role is not as the funeral director; we are simply here to offer our vehicle to those who wish to use it. Our business aim is to work closely with individual funeral directors in order to ensure the smooth running of any funeral we undertake. If we receive a direct client request then we will be sure to contact their chosen funeral director in order to relieve some of the stress for the grieving family. Should funeral directors themselves receive any form of enquiry then we would ask them to contact us and we will work with them throughout the funeral process. Finally, what are your plans for the long-term future of your business? At the moment our one trike hearse will travel the UK upon client request. If the Your Chariot launch is successful we plan to manufacture further vehicles across the country while constantly upgrading our trikes to ensure that we offer our clients the most fitting experiences possible.


Charity spotlight

Fighting their corner Choosing a charity to support in memory of a loved one can be incredibly rewarding. Mike Whatley tells Phoebe Vincent why supporting Alzheimer’s Society in memory of his mother was the right choice for him


ike wastes no time explaining his feelings about dementia: “It’s not a natural part of ageing. It robs you of your dignity and your memory and screws up your family.” Mike cared for his mother, who had vascular dementia, until she died in October 2009. “Mum was a friend,” he says. “I’m still coming to terms with her death.” She died in her local hospital in a specialist quiet ward, and Mike is quick to praise the hospital’s attention, saying: “They treated her so well it was unbelievable.” But Mike is clear the quality of hospital care for people with dementia has a lot of room for improvement. He believes better training for medical staff about dementia and person-centred care is critical.

Quality of care “Often, after having been admitted to hospital, people will have food put in front of them but they don’t know how to feed themselves,” Mike explains. “One of my friends, who’s caring for his wife who has Alzheimer’s disease, spends an hour on each meal every day. Nurses don’t always realise that. In hospital, you might be looked after, but you also need to be looked out for. “Quality of care is important,” he continues, “and so is dignity. All too often you hear a young nurse calling an octogenarian or nonagenarian by their Christian names, when they should find out how the patient prefers to be addressed. “People with dementia, and elderly people, can’t fight their own corner and don’t want to be a nuisance. They need a dedicated, trained team of people looking out for them.” Alzheimer’s Society campaigns tirelessly for better quality dementia care in hospitals. The charity’s ‘Putting Care Right’ campaign has brought quality of care into the spotlight, and has given carers and people with dementia the tools to ask for better quality care. For more information, please call the Supporter Care team on 0845 306 0898 or the National Dementia Helpline on 0845 300 0336, or visit

Supporting each other Alzheimer’s Society’s Bromley services have been hugely valuable for Mike. He used to attend the charity’s Memory Clinic, and when the group became oversubscribed, Alzheimer’s Society provided him with the training and support to set up a second group. Established in 2007, Mike’s group is going from strength to strength and was featured on this year’s BBC Comic Relief appeal. It is made up of men, all of whom are carers or former carers, who meet once a month to socialise and have a meal. “We talk about all sorts,” says Mike. “Before, we discussed caring issues – how to cope with the shouting and the aggression. It’s different now that they’re in a home. One of the guys told me he doesn’t know why he bothers going sometimes, she doesn’t know who he is anymore. But I said to him that he still knows who she is, and that’s what’s important.” An important aspect of the group is that the members can still carry on coming for as long as they like, even if they’ve been widowed. This mutual support helps with the grieving process. Alzheimer’s Society relies on voluntary donations to support people to live better with dementia today and fund research to find a cure for tomorrow. The Society works with people with dementia to champion their rights and ensure that research into the condition informs practice and transforms lives. Liz Showell, director of fundraising and marketing at Alzheimer’s Society, says: “Giving a gift in memory is a very special way to remember a loved one. It honours their memory while giving hope to others who have dementia. “We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work and we are extremely grateful to our supporters like Mike for their dedication and passion.” With good quality care and research more relevant than ever before, in memoriam donations are crucially important. Please encourage those affected by dementia to support Alzheimer’s Society in memory of a loved one and let people with dementia know that you’re fighting their corner.

How gifts in memory can help • £5 could pay for 25 copies of Understanding and Respecting the Person with Dementia – one of Alzheimer’s Society’s most requested fact sheets. • £100 could pay for 800 copies of This is Me – an Alzheimer’s Society resource which helps hospital staff understand a person with dementia’s needs and supports them to deliver quality person-centred dementia care. • £200 could fund a research nurse to be involved in a study at the forefront of clinical science for one day.

Making a charitable gift is a positive way to remember someone special An in memoriam gift to Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Society is a very special way to remember a loved one. We can supply your clients with envelopes to help with their collection, free of charge. And as donations can be sent to us directly, it saves you time too. Let your clients know they can ask for envelopes by calling

0845 306 0898 Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Society operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Registered charity no. 296645


Charity spotlight

A future free from pain With arthritis affecting one in six people in the UK, research into treatment and cure is of huge importance. Arthritis Research UK discusses its work in this field, and the role of in memoriam donations


here’s a common misconception that arthritis is just a few aches and pains, and a natural consequence of growing old, however the truth is very different. Arthritis is an extremely painful and debilitating condition, affecting 10 million people in the UK – that’s one in six of us – and it is a major cause of physical disability. It’s indiscriminate when it comes to age – 15,000 children in the UK have arthritis, some as young as six months old. Arthritis Research UK is leading the fight against arthritis. We do this by: • funding world class research into the causes, prevention and treatment of over 200 different forms of arthritis; • sending out two million free leaflets and booklets each year to members of the public and our donors, and to GPs to help train them in recognising arthritis symptoms (a quarter of GP’s visits are about arthritis, yet GPs receive just two weeks of training on the subject!); • campaigning on behalf of people in order to ensure better support for all those living with arthritis. We are committed to lobbying the government to get arthritis on the national agenda as well as campaigning for better treatment and diagnosis for arthritis sufferers from the medical profession. Our vision is a future free from the pain and suffering of arthritis. A gift in memory to Arthritis Research UK can be a positive way to pay tribute to a loved one and could make a huge difference to the lives of future generations. We receive no government funding, so depend on kind gifts like these to support our vital work. As a charity we are deeply grateful when someone chooses to make a donation to Arthritis Research

UK in memory of a loved one. We appreciate that these gifts are given at a very difficult time and that you, as a conduit, are instrumental in this process. If you are arranging a funeral for a client who has been affected by arthritis, you may choose to suggest that they: • make a donation in memory of a loved one via our website or by calling 0300 790 0400; • ask for donations in lieu of flowers at the funeral – we can send out some collection envelopes ahead of the funeral; • organise an event or take part in one of our many regional and national events in memory of a loved one such as a walk, run, bike ride or coffee morning; • consider starting an online tribute fund on behalf of Arthritis Research UK. Creating a fundraising page in memory of someone is a powerful way for friends and family to honour them by donating to a cause that they cared deeply about. To request some in memory leaflets/postcards to display or donation envelopes, please call or email us using the details below. We welcome any of your clients who may wish to make a donation or who have any questions about giving in memory to contact us on the above contact details.

For more information please contact our in memory team on 0300 790 0400 or email them at For more information on Arthritis Research UK and our life changing work, please visit our website

Registered Charity No. 207711, SC041156

Turn memories into hope A gift in memory of a loved one is not only a fitting way to pay tribute, it will help Arthritis Research UK to continue making breakthroughs towards a future free from the pain and suffering of arthritis. For your free guide to giving in memory, please call Laura Scarborough on 0300 790 0400 or email 16827_ARUK_FuneralServiceTimes_190x130mm.indd 1

11/04/2011 14:24



Rest in peace A tribute to some well-known individuals who have sadly passed away during the last month 23 June – Peter Falk (aged 83) Peter Michael Falk was an American actor, best known for his portrayal of the iconic detective Lieutenant Columbo in the television series of the same name. Falk, regarded as a versatile actor with a broad range, also had a successful career in film, and was twice nominated for an Academy Award (for 1960’s Murder, Inc and 1961’s Pocketful of Miracles).

4 July – Otto von Habsburg (aged 98) Otto von Habsburg, formerly Archduke Otto of Austria, was the last crown prince of the AustroHungarian Empire. A prominent leader of the Austrian anti-Nazi resistance and one of the “architects of European integration,” Otto served as a Member of the European Parliament for the German Christian Social Union of Bavaria party from 1979 to 1999. He was entombed in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna, and his heart buried in Pannonhalma Archabbey in Hungary.

5 July – Cy Twombly (aged 83) Edwin Parker ‘Cy’ Twombly Jr was an American artist known for a portfolio of colourful, scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings that blurred the line between painting and drawing. An expatriate based in Italy, Twombly rarely referred to contemporary events or issues, instead drawing his inspiration from his adopted country’s cultural heritage and surroundings.

9 July – Würzel (aged 61) Michael Burston, usually known by the stage name Würzel, was an English musician who, from 1984 to 1995, served as a guitarist for heavy metal group Motörhead. Formerly an Army corporal, Burston – who acquired his nickname owing to his scarecrow-like hairstyle and West Country background – served in Germany and Northern Ireland before auditioning for the band upon the departure of previous guitarist Brian Robertson. He had been suffering from heart disease.

13 July – Jerry Ragovoy (aged 80) Jordan ‘Jerry’ Ragovoy was an American songwriter and record producer. Although an important force in 1960s East Coast soul and gospel, Ragovoy’s most famous composition was Time is on My Side, which reached number six on the Billboard Pop Singles chart when covered by the Rolling Stones in June 1964. Big Brother and the Holding Company’s version of his song Piece of My Heart also made number 344 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

15 July – Googie Withers (aged 94) Georgette Lizette ‘Googie’ Withers CBE AO was an English theatre, film and television actress. Described as a “striking presence” in and pre- and post-war British cinema, she nevertheless gained wider acclaim for her portrayal of the prison governor in ITV drama series Within These Walls, which ran from 1974 to 1978. She was married for 62 years to Australian fellow actor John McCallum, who passed away in 2010.

16 July – Katerina Mataira (aged 79) Dame Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira DNZM was a prominent New Zealand Maori activist and author, whose efforts to revive the Maori language in the island country led to the growth of specialist Maori ‘immersion schools’ known as Kura Kaupapa Māori. She was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit as part of the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

20 July – Lucian Freud (aged 88) Lucian Michael Freud OM CH was a British painter known for his intense, figurative realist portraits, particularly of nudes. Widely considered the pre-eminent British artist of his time, Freud’s work was often out of favour with critics and collectors but became acclaimed for its psychological penetration and an often discomforting examination of the relationship between artist and model. Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, commented: “The vitality of his nudes, the intensity of the still life paintings and the presence of his portraits of family and friends guarantee Freud a unique place in the pantheon of late 20th century art.”













Events & Data


Images: Asia Funeral Expo


6 September NAFD Committee for Professional Development Meeting, TBA

10 September Co-operative Funeral Service Managers’ Association Annual Conference Banquet TBA

10 September NAFD South West Wales Area Federation Annual General Meeting TBA

18 – 20 October

3 November

Necropolis All-Russia Exhibition Centre Moscow, Russia

NAFD Autumn General Meeting Ardencote Manor Hotel Claverdon, Warwickshire

28 – 30 October

4 – 5 November

British Institute of Funeral Directors Conference Edinburgh Marriott Hotel

VENIA – MEMENTO Brno Exhibition Centre Brno Czech Republic

10 September

National Association of Memorial Masons AGM & Dinner and Dance Hilton Liverpool

2 November

16 – 18 September funexpo2011 Mendes Convention Center Santos, São Paulo, Brazil

NAFD Executive Meeting & Past Presidents’ Annual Dinner Ardencote Manor Hotel Claverdon, Warwickshire

17 – 19 November

NAFD Northern Ireland General Meeting, TBA

Source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency Mar-11 1,305

Necropolis Expo Poznań International Fair Poznań, Poland

3 – 5 October ICCM Conference and Exhibition Chesford Grange hotel Kenilworth, Warwickshire

4 October NAFD Ayrshire Local Association Second Business Meeting Elms Court Hotel, Ayr

12 October NAFD Midlands Area Federation General Meeting The Greswolde Hotel and Brasserie Solihull

Funéraire Paris le Bourget Paris, France

Provisional deaths in Northern Ireland by month of registration, 2011

27 September

30 September – 2 October

Apr-11 1,096

May-11 1,223

Monthly provisional figures on deaths registered by area of usual residence, 2011 Source: ONS

England and Wales












ENGLAND North East North West Yorkshire and the Humber East Midlands West Midlands East London South East South West

41,347 2,321 5,980 4,395 3,664 4,521 4,682 4,198 6,869 4,717

34,521 1,911 5,122 3,760 3,157 3,670 3,893 3,592 5,545 3,871

37,442 2,194 5,493 3,987 3,210 4,054 4,184 3,736 6,311 4,273





Non-residents of England & Wales




2002 (02) SAAB 9 5 LIMOUSINE (C-M) Facelifted to 2010 style. Leather, Warranty. M56k Surely the best looking limousine available under £20k! Looks like a £60k car! £19,950 2007(07) SAAB 9-5 LIMOUSINE. High specification. In-build. Available soon. Your choice of colour POA 2008 SAAB 9 5 LIMOUSINE Coleman-Milne. 1-9 litre Diesel, Mileage circa 34k. On hire available soon POA 1998 MERCEDES E320 LIMOUSINE Coleman Milne, Cheapest one yet! With warranty £9,950 1998 (S) MERCEDES E240 HEARSE Coleman-Milne, very well cared for 12 months warranty £16,950 2000 MERCEDES E280 5 DOOR HEARSE Extensive renovation, New rise & fall deck, Definitely the best available £21,750 1996 MERCEDES E300D LIMOUSINE CM. Very good example 12 months warranty £9,950 1997/98(R) MERCEDES E250 LIMOUSINE Diesel, Coleman-Milne, Due in soon £9,950 1999 VAUXHALL OMEGA STATESMAN LIMOUSINE Bench centre-seat, seat belts all-round. Facelifted. £8,950 1996 (P) VAUXHALL OMEGA Diamond black, Low-line version, Bench Seat & Seat-belts, to clear £3,995 2003/03 VAUXHALL OMEGA 5 DOOR HEARSE 2.6 litre V6 petrol, excellent,12 month warranty, available shortly. Buyers choice of colour £19,750 2005(05) VOLVO S60 LIMOUSINE. In –build. Available soon. M22K. Finished to customers specification and colour from £29,750 1992 VOLVO 940 HEARSE Very good example of this everlasting model. 12 months warranty. Matching Limousine available £3,950 1997 DAIMLER LIMOUSINE Excellent condition throughout, 12 months warranty, Superb value £9,950


Crowndeed International, Bowers Mill, Barkisland, Halifax, HX4 0AD MERCEDES


2003 3DR F/D Hearse, Black, (W210) 35000 miles


1999 MK9 Dorchester, 33000 miles


2000 6DR 280 Black, Grey Leather, 66000 miles


1992 MK8 Cardinal B/D, D/D, 62000 miles


1997 6DR Limousine, Black, Very clean


1985 4DR 123 Limousine Black, Blue Cloth, New M.O.T.


2002 6DR 22OD, Black, Low miles 2002 3DR 320 CDi Hearse, Black, B/D, D/D



1995 MK9 Dorchester, Black, 2.9 Cosworth, A Bargain


1995 MK9 B/D, D/D, Black, 38,000 miles


£21,950 VOLVO 02 Plate, S80 Limousine, 48,000 miles

VAUXHALL 2002 Omega Wilcox 3DR Hearse 56000 miles


1998 Volvo 960 Limousine, Conference Seating, Every Extra, 76000 miles £7,950 1997 6DR 960 Limousine, 63,000 miles

ROVER 1998 Rover 6DR Limousine, braking for spares, all parts available.

£19,750 £ P.O.A.

DAIMLER 1991 D.S. 420 Limousine, new M.O.T.


1990 D.S. 420 Limousine, new M.O.T.


Delivery of our Chrysler 300 Hearses and Limousines is now January 2012. These vehicles now have pan-european type approval. Andrew Naylor 01422 377840

Graham Mosey 01435 813244



BYRAM UK REPATRIATION & HELLIWELLS FUNERAL SERVICE Experienced Funeral Directors providing a Professional and Caring Service Complete UK Coverage Embalming Service Airport Transfers All Documentation Undertaken

01282 870898 Lands End to John Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Groats - No Problem


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Voice on the highstreet

Voice on the highstreet Nina Dass of the Herne Bay Funeral Service, Herne Bay How long have you been in the profession? I have been in the profession for just over two and a half years, having joined the firm after spending some time in the legal field and the interior design trade. I am legally qualified and had also spent some years as a non-practising barrister, as well as a lecturer in criminal law, company law and jurisprudence for a number of universities here and abroad. I had also briefly worked with the prosecution services and forensics in the Far East. I have been interested in the funeral profession for a very long time, and can even remember having listed ‘funeral director’ as a child when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up! What do you personally do for each funeral? I think the appropriate question is what don’t I do! Being in a small family firm, we all chip in for every aspect of a funeral from the first point of contact to the actual bearing. I have been involved in everything from coffin preparation to hygienic treatment, dressing and make-up and polishing the hearse; not to mention getting my hands immersed in office paperwork, including making the initial applications for cremations and burials, account management and dealing with the minefield that is the Inland Revenue. I have also assisted in the collection of the deceased. How do you meet the needs of the bereaved? By listening! Everyone who comes through our doors has their own distinct needs with regards to their wishes for a loved one. We take a personal interest in the families concerned, and try our best to give a good send-off. We have often gone the extra mile to make someone feel that they have made the best choice possible in coming to us… they must feel that they are coming to a good friend rather than an impersonal business.

in place to prevent any lateness in submitting forms. It’s also sometimes a little disheartening to discover the impersonal aspects of a funeral, such as the strict timings of crematoriums and the hurriedness of the services given. What changes can you see happening in the future? ‘Green’ funerals are making a big impact these days. We are doing more and more of them and I think that it’s going to be at the forefront of business in the future. There also seems to be a lot more requests for personalised coffins. Pre-payment plans also seem to be a main societal consideration – perhaps most of the funerals we get in the future will have some sort of pre-payment plan attached to them. Not only do they make it easier for the families left behind in terms of their simplicity, they also relieve the burden of the financial strain at a difficult time. What advice would you give to anyone starting out in the industry? Be determined and persevere! I must have sent out hundreds of applications to almost every firm I could think of. It’s a difficult profession to get in to, but you have to take what you can get in the meantime; be it working as a bearer or otherwise. I had been accepted into a small firm and had found out that job descriptions don’t really apply – I could be talking to clients one day and satisfying the coffee cravings of the staff the next! My personal advice is to keep abreast of the developments in the funeral trade, as well as persevering with regards to applications to firms.

Who works alongside you? Being a small family firm, we rely on a lot of casual staff. Though I work directly under Ross, the director of the company, we have mostly friends and neighbours as colleagues. All our bearers are either neighbours of ours or people we have worked with for years, or even former clients who felt the desire to forge a post-retirement career. We have the director’s mother covering the office when we are busy and his dad servicing the vehicles when they need looking at. We like to think that our team is more like an extended family. What is the biggest challenge you face on a day-to-day basis? Paperwork! It’s tough keeping up with it. Though we have a good system going in the office, there’s always the background worry that we might have missed something. Thankfully, we have checks If you would like to appear on this page, please send an introductory email to Jon Chapple at

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