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uneral

The independent voice of the funeral profession

Established 2006

ISSN 2046-7273

S

ervice times JULY 2012

www.funeralservicetimes.co.uk

Coffin furnishings Handles, ornaments and linings

Embracing technology

Software and website opportunities Hearse and verse Poetry to honour the glory and beauty of life, and the memories that live on even after death

Parental support

The complex responses and needs of each family member when coping with the death of a baby or child


This month

july 

2012

C o n te n t s

Dispatches 

The latest news from the profession

6

The future of funeral management 

12

The truest end of life…

18

Naida Ally speaks to some of the funeral directors who are embracing new software and internet opportunities in order to advance their businesses

Peter Wyllie ends this current series of funeral poetry with an appreciation of the glory and beauty of a life, followed by a special prayer submitted by an FST reader

Products20 New products and services from the trade

Bereavement24 Rev George Callander provides a thought-provoking overview of the complex emotions, responses and needs of all members of a family when coping with the death of child

Fixtures and fittings

29

Over to you

32

Prime opportunities

36

Special delivery 

38

Resting in peace

41

Louise Hoffman looks at a selection of coffin handles, ornaments, nameplates and linings that are available to offer to your client families Carole Stockill of Maillard’s Funeral Directors tells the heart-warming tale of Jersey’s very own funeral choir

Louise Hoffman hears the story of Prime Limousine Services’s evolution from a small car lot to a popular carriagemasters, from owner Peter Prime Carey Holland of Anglia Courier Express announces details of the company’s brand new Butterfly Transfers division, which is dedicated to the funeral profession

Nicky Whichelow of GreenAcres Woodland Burial Parks describes some of the most appealing aspects of woodland burial, and of the company’s own service offering

T

Editor’s letter

echnology: for some of us, it is a word that sets us quaking in our boots; whilst for others it inspires excitement and eager anticipation of the future. Progression and change will always generate a spectrum of reactions and opinions, as indeed they always have. When we have become used to a certain way of operating – and maybe even grown quite attached to it – it can be difficult, if not upsetting, to release our hold and to open our minds to something new, especially when we can identify negative aspects of the change, whether real or imagined. But the one thing we cannot deny is that the world waits for no one – evolution continues on its forward trajectory, and u-turns are highly unusual, except perhaps when it comes to fashion… and politics! Therefore we must strive to view technological advancements objectively, separating fact from fiction, and establishing how to make change work for us, in our own lives, environments and work. This month we take a look at computer software and website design – aspects of technology that are helping many businesses to improve their service and processes, and to increase their profile; but which can also be perceived as impenetrable, confusing, or even unnecessary. Naida Ally hears from some of the companies that are offering a helping hand to funeral directors who are taking their first steps into the world of IT, and some of the funeral directors who have already taken advantage of the opportunities that are available. I hope you enjoy the magazine and the month ahead, including the forthcoming London Funeral Exhibition, for those of you who are attending.

Obituaries44 A tribute to some of those who have died recently

Your story

Christine Parker, managing director, Abbey Funeral Services

50 Louise Hoffman

louise@funeralservicetimes.co.uk

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6

Dispatches

Funeral Service The independent voice of the funeral profession

times

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 www.funeralservicetimes.co.uk Editor Louise Hoffman louise@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Editorial Assistants Naida Ally naida@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Callum Gildart callum@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Reporter Emily Northcott emily@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Design/Deputy Production Editor Lewis Bowes copy@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Group Advertisement Manager Kelly Smith kelly@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Deputy Group Advertisement Manager Julie-Ann Kwok julie@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Advertising Sales Adam Bennett adam@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Accounts Maureen Scrivener accounts@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Customer Services 01206 767 797 customers@mulberrypublications.co.uk Contributing writers: Peter Wyllie & Rev George Callander

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.

The LAFD elects a new president Jeremy Field, managing director of CPJ Field & Co Ltd, has been elected president of the London Association of Funeral Directors (LAFD) at its recent AGM in Knightsbridge. Jeremy, who joined the LAFD’s Executive Committee in 2009, is a 10th generation member of the funeral industry and, by becoming president of the LAFD, is following in the footsteps of both his father and greatgreat grandfather, who headed the organisation from 1983 to 84 and 1907 to 08 respectively. Speaking of his election, Jeremy said: “It is a real privilege to be the third generation of the Field family to be elected as the president of the Executive Committee and I’m looking forward to leading the association this year.” Image: Ray Barnes, outgoing president, congratulates his successor, Jeremy Field.

Powell CIC awarded Social Enterprise Mark The UK’s first certified funeral social enterprise has been set up in Worcestershire and the West Midlands to help families avoid getting into debt while coping with the death of a loved one. Powell & Family Direct Community Interest Company (CIC) has been launched by funeral director Bryan Powell and his wife Catherine, to offer simple and low-cost funerals. The service was created online three months ago as a separate social enterprise within their mainstream funeral business. Since then the family-run funeral firm has already attracted interest and has now been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark. Catherine said: “Trust is a vital part of our relationship with any bereaved family and we wanted to be able to prove that we are 100 per cent committed to putting their needs first. We are so thrilled to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark.” The Social Enterprise Mark guarantees that holders have met defined criteria, proving that they trade for people and planet rather than being profit driven.

Demand for eco-friendly coffins soars Coffins made from natural and sustainable sources are growing in popularity thanks to an increasing number of people choosing to have an environmentally-friendly send-off. Hainsworth, one of the UK’s leading textile mills, has reported a sales increase of 700 per cent on its woollen coffins in the past year. In the last five years the number of eco-funerals has risen 100 per cent and now totals more than 50,000 a year. They can entail interments at unconventional sites, coffins made from alternative materials such as wicker and cardboard, cash payments to offset carbon dioxide emissions and forgoing a coffin completely to be buried in a simple shroud. Spokesman for the National Association of Funeral Directors Dominic Maguire said: “People are concerned that, when they die, they don’t leave much of a carbon footprint. Their feeling is that they want to leave a legacy, a sense that they didn’t use up natural resources.” David Crampton, president of the Funeral Furnishing Manufacturer’s Association, believes that 10 per cent of all coffins are now made with alternative materials. “Wicker is by far the most popular, second to that is cardboard, but others include willow, wool, bamboo, banana leaf, water hyacinth, felt and recycled paper,” he said. “As more alternative materials have become available, so the popularity [of green funerals] has grown. Ten years ago, it was just wicker and cardboard. Five years ago, alternative coffins made up just five per cent [of funerals]. The market will probably continue to grow.” JC Atkinson, of Washington, Tyne and Wear, makes more than 70,000 coffins a year, including solid pine coffins that have Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation. Research carried out by the firm has shown that more people would opt for a green send-off if prices were lower.


Dispatches

Woodland Burial Parks reveals new name and strategy Woodland Burial Parks has changed its name to GreenAcres Woodland Burials and is planning to create a nationwide network of woodland cemeteries. The award-winning company currently operates three sites in Norfolk, Essex and Buckinghamshire, and has announced plans for an increase in the number of cemeteries it owns or manages by 2020. Year-on-year rises in the demand for burial and interment services at GreenAcres Woodland Burials’ three existing parks, coupled with an increase in the number of woodland burial sites across the country – from five in 1995 to 260 in 2012 – has resulted in the announcement. Andy Paling, managing director of GreenAcres Woodland Burials, said: “The move to the new name of GreenAcres Woodland Burials is designed to send a strong and positive message to the public and, in particular, funeral directors, who recognise that we offer a level of service and professionalism that is consistent with what they themselves offer. “We are determined to be the woodland burial park against which all others are measured in terms of our service, quality and trust.” GreenAcres Woodland Burials has recently secured planning for a fourth site in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, and currently has five other sites across the UK progressing through planning.

FD to undertake Ironman challenge Funeral director Samantha Dean-Howard will compete in an Ironman challenge to raise money for the hospital that cared for her sister. Samantha, of Dean Brothers Ltd of Formby in Merseyside, undergoes an intense training regime alongside her work at the independent funeral directors to ensure her fitness ahead of the Ironman challenge in Bolton, Greater Manchester, on 22 July. In preparation for the challenge, Samantha is aiming to run 15 to 20 miles a week and conduct two hours of swimming in both pool and open water, on top of hours of gym work and physiotherapy – provided courtesy of Sarah Hall Physiotherapy. To complete the challenge, Samantha will have to swim 2.4 miles in open water, complete a 112-mile cycling course and run a whole 26.2 mile marathon. Royal Liverpool Hospital’s Ward 10z will be the beneficiary of Samantha’s efforts after helping her sister, Sharon Bradley, when she underwent treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia last year. “I thought it would be nice to raise money for the ward that helped her [Sharon] at Liverpool Royal Hospital.” Samantha said. Family is at the heart of the funeral directors, established in 1827, and they are getting fully behind Samantha’s efforts. Her mother Joyce is organising the sponsorship money for the challenge; Samantha’s husband Paul Howard’s business is providing her clothing and bike; Dean Brothers, her family’s funeral directors, are supplying support t-shirts; and Iain Dean Design, run by her brother, supplied her website. All of Samantha’s sponsors are donating additional funds to the ward she’s running in aid of. To support Samantha, send cheques payable to ‘Ward 10z Royal Hospital’ to Joyce Dean, 78 Gores Lane, Formby, L37 7DF. For further information visit Samantha’s website: www.ocdathlete.com

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And briefly Professional accolade for Darlington FD Darlington funeral director Keith Munt has been appointed vice president of the Society of Bereavement Practitioners (SBP). Keith, a director and co-owner of Saint and Forster Funeral Directors Ltd, was appointed to the role by the Society’s president and Funeral Service Times columnist, Rev George Callander. The SBP’s new vice president was also made a Fellow of the Society in recognition of his contribution to bereavement care and support in the north east. Speaking of his appointment, Keith said: “This is a terrific accolade for me and a wonderful endorsement of the manner in which we approach our work at Saint and Forster.” Rev George Callander added: “Keith Munt is an outstanding bereavement practitioner, committed to freedom of choice for his clients. He is an excellent ambassador to promote excellence in bereavement and end-of-life care and the Society is stronger for his support and unique character.” Cornwall burial right fees set at £500 Cornwall Council is introducing a new single rate fee of £500 for burial rights. The county’s unitary authority is introducing the changes because four areas under six former districts have been charging different rates. Revisions were made to original plans after funeral directors raised concerns over the suggested £750 exclusive right of burial (ERB) price. The ERB period in Cornwall was also due to be cut from 99 years to 30 before the council decided upon 50. Changes to the current system come into effect in August. Funeral home staff help out at women’s refuge Staff from a funeral home in Stourport have renovated a children’s play area at a West Mercia Women’s Aid refuge for women affected by domestic abuse. Five volunteers from the Midcounties Co-operative Funeralcare on Bridge Street cleared the garden and painted the children’s play area at the refuge. Kelly Payton, a funeral director at the Funeralcare branch, said: “We chose the refuge’s play area because… we are parents and grandparents ourselves. We wanted to give something back to the future generation.” Regional hostels and helpline manager for West Mercia Women’s Aid Michelle Sealey said: “It’s now a much nicer environment for the children and, as a charity, it was something we couldn’t afford to do.” Other local businesses provided help by donating bark and edging roll to the play area’s spruce-up effort. FST poet chosen for product range Congratulations to Richard Lawrence Belford, whose heartfelt poetry we have published in several editions of Funeral Service Times (including last month), as his verse has now been selected for a series of wall plaques designed by Reed Photo Imaging of Denver, Colorado. They will be made available at over 6,000 gift shops throughout the western United States, and through Amazon. “I hope this news will not only show just how influential your publication is in bringing about positive results, but will also further inspire your readership, while aiding them in their quest to provide comfort to those in grief,” he said. Please visit www.richardlawrencebelford.ca for more information.


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Dispatches

And briefly Ferno launches a new online shop Ferno has launched an online shop dedicated to the funeral and mortuary sector – ferno.co.uk/shop. The company’s funeral and mortuary products cover four areas of funeral preparation and include equipment such as removal trolleys, cold chambers and embalming tables. Armed forces to be honoured in Nottinghamshire A tribute to armed force servicemen past and present is being created by a family from Nottinghamshire. Funeral director Ian Campbell and his wife Jill are creating montages for display at two funeral homes in Mansfield and Nottingham. Ian has, to date, created seven montages of ex-service staff that are on display at the funeral home he works at on Rosemary Street, Mansfield. They feature both living and deceased relatives of funeral home staff members and clients with a military background. Ian, once a corporal in the Royal Corps of Signals, has also featured his own family in the tribute that is being created to raise awareness of Combat Stress charity. “Several clients have mentioned that they or their loved ones had military backgrounds and have since brought in photos and written a few words which I’ve made into montages. Staff members have done the same and I’m doing the same for my dad and family,” Ian said. Fundraising success for burial ground staff Staff from a woodland burial ground near Poole, Dorset, recently raised £1,253.70 to help local children. Funeral director Dawn Jones and funeral arranger Rory Craig from Poole and Wimborne Woodland Burial Ground raised the funds during a week of activity in Poole’s shopping mall, the Dolphin Centre. All money raised will be donated to the Children’s Community Nursing Team at Poole General Hospital. Fresh start for Ledbury funeral home Hawcutt Funeral Directors of Ledbury has been officially opened by the town’s mayor after moving to bigger premises. Over 60 people attended the dedication and viewed the new funeral home, which includes a training room that can be used by the community free of charge upon request. Funeral director Alistair Leary said: “Before, we had only a small office space with no arranging room, but our new funeral home is beautiful and offers new, private areas for our clients.” Independent Mergers and Acquisitions Independent Mergers and Acquistions (IMandA) has just launched as a new venture offering a unique business sale intermediary to the funeral profession. The new organisation combines the skills and funeral profession experience of Pete O’Neill, Roger Ferdinand and Gordon Fergusson. IMandA defines its selling point as unique because “it puts you, the seller, in control; not the corporate buyer.” After offering a free evaluation of a business, the organisation will prepare an Offering Memorandum before stimulating interest by circulating a blind ad. Any potential buyers must sign a confidentiality agreement before negotiating with IMandA. Further information can be found at www.imanda.co.uk

Funeral home joins Jubilee festivities Ian Hazel Funerals of Sutton Coldfield helped the local community of Little Aston celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by entering a coffin-shaped rowing boat into a Jubilee boat pageant. In spite of Little Aston’s landlocked location, the boat pageant was organised to rival HRH’s on the Thames, some 120 miles south east. Altogether 38 boats, including Ian Hazel Funerals’ coffin ‘vessel’, assembled at the local parish church for the half mile procession to the local recreation ground. Ian Hazel remarked: “It was great fun to be involved in an event to mark such an historic occasion as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. When first approached I was a little apprehensive as to how the public would take to a coffin being turned into a rowing boat, but decided that if we introduced some humour into it, it would be accepted in the true spirit of the event.” Image: Ian and his daughter, Amy, in the coffin boat.

Charity run for Chase Hospice Steve Coward, a funeral director at Ford Mears & Partners in Knaphill, Surrey, will be running the Farham Pilgrim Marathon on 16 September to raise money for Shooting Star Chase Hospice. Steve chose Chase after family friends lost their nine-year-old son Matthias just before Christmas, following an 18-month battle with cancer. “Matthias and his family were looked after and supported at Chase Hospice in Guildford, which is why I’m running the brutal course of the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon, to raise money in his memory and to help support Chase and all the fantastic work they do,” said Steve. Farnham Pilgrim is based at the Sands Village, near Farnham. The marathon route is mainly off-road, using the footpaths and country lanes east of Farnham, including parts of the Pilgrims’ Way and the North Downs Way. To donate to Steve’s cause, please visit www.justgiving.com/stevecoward or text SMCO76 to 70070 with the amount you would like to give.

Sunderland funeral director scoops Businessman of the Year Tony Clarke, 48, a well-known funeral director within the Sunderland area, was recently awarded the Businessman of the Year award by local radio station Sun FM. Mr Clarke, who has worked as a funeral director for over 20 years and now runs his independent, family-owned firm at High Barnes and Castletown in Sunderland, was given the award following letters sent in by numerous clients who described his “outstanding care and commitment”. Mr Clarke said of the award: “I would just like to thank all of my clients and friends who took the time to send their nominations, and also to the management of Sun FM radio station and to my business partners Mrs Lynda Scanlan, Mrs Heather Bolton and Mr Chris Bolton for the support they have shown to me over my two years of business. Also, I would like to give a big thank you to my wonderful staff Jonny, Matty, Chris, Tony and Amy for the support they have shown.”


10

Dispatches

Three minute interview

Funeral planning website could signal change Ireland’s first online funeral planning website, Legacy Online, has been launched with the aim to “alleviate the financial and emotional stress of funeral planning”. Funeral director Josh Moonman, creator of Legacy Online, explained: “The funeral business is changing, and it was time to move with the times. Using Legacy Online, the entire funeral can be decided, planned and priced in the familiar surroundings of your own home, taking as much time as you need to make important decisions at what is inevitably an emotional time.” The ability to arrange every aspect of a funeral without a face-to-face meeting is a controversial concept which could herald further changes for the funeral profession in the near future. Silicon Republic reported that “76 per cent of Irish adults aged 30 to 55 have never planned a funeral, and 24 per cent wouldn’t know where to start.”

Dates for your diary... 1 – 3 October

Roger Ferdinand, founder, Perceptive Marketing Describe yourself in three words

www.bifd.org.uk

Provisional deaths in Scotland by month of registration, 2012

What is your earliest memory?

Sitting in my pram outside Woolworths – fortunately I had not been abandoned, merely parked.

Source: General Register Office for Scotland

Jan-12 5,228

When you were at school, what did you want to be and why?

Feb-12 4,517

Mar-12 4,473

Provisional deaths in Northern Ireland by month of registration, 2012

A pilot – having read all of the Biggles books and, growing up in Grantham, I used to watch the training flights from RAF Cranwell, and the V bombers from the RAF bases at Waddington and Scampton.

The Rolling Stones’ Aftermath – I dug the back garden to earn the money for it from my father, who was not impressed by my purchase.

BIFD AGM Harrogate

www.iccm-uk.com

Creative, dynamic, fortunate.

What was the first music album you bought?

26 – 28 October

Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management ICCM Learning Convention and Exhibition Forest Pines Hotel North Lincolnshire

Source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency Feb-12 1,267

Mar-12 1,316

Apr-12 1,281

Monthly provisional figures on deaths registered by area of usual residence, 2012 Source: ONS

If you could have dinner with one person, who would you choose and why?

England and Wales

Feb-12

Mar-12

Apr-12

Nelson Mandela – his resilience, humanity and compassion are an example to all.

TOTAL REGISTRATIONS

44,540

44,152

41,685

What is the best advice you have been given?

ENGLAND AND WALES

44,476

44,073

41,596

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

41,864 2,186 5,926 4,449 3,725 4,445 4,779 4,627 7,023 4,705

41,306 2,189 5,909 4,282 3,698 4,417 4,817 4,301 6,990 4,703

38,928 2,234 5,719 4,089 3,527 4,204 4,470 3,908 6,402 4,375

WALES

2,611

2,767

2,668

Non-residents of England & Wales

64

75

89

Enjoy what you do and you will do it well. What is your next goal in life?

To enjoy life. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

The Himalayas, to put life into perspective. What is your favourite quote or saying?

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant. What is the most important thing that your job has taught you?

Life continually offers new challenges and the opportunity to learn from them.


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Information technology

The future of funeral management Although the prospect can at first seem daunting, embracing new software and internet opportunities is helping funeral directors across the country to advance their businesses, as Naida Ally discovers

I

nformation technology is a significant investment for any small business, with computer software and web presence being key elements of that investment. Software enables computer hardware to perform tasks, providing new ways to assist with the efficiency of a business. This may involve automating routine tasks and therefore cutting costs, or the addition of an interactive contact system via a website. Although the funeral profession may not be one that is immediately associated with technological advancements, there are companies that specialise in software for funeral directors and understand the business needs of the sector. I contacted some funeral directors to gain an idea of how many people have integrated software management systems into their daily businesses, and although many are yet to take the plunge, it seems they are either planning to, or have considered it. This suggests that funeral management software is a topic of interest, but one that still inspires a certain degree of nervousness or confusion in business owners. This month we’re taking a look at some of the companies that are experienced in funeral business management, and the funeral directors who have successfully adopted their products.

been providing low-cost funeral management solutions to the UK funeral industry for over 19 years. “The software market is always changing so we ensure that we change with it to provide products that help our customers work effectively and efficiently,” explains Simon Richardson, managing director at Oak Technology. Darren L Hancock, managing director of D L Hancock Ltd Independent Family Funeral Directors (Bicester), chose Oak Technology eight years ago, “because they are well priced and the level

Tried and tested Oak Technology is an independent, family-run business that has Oak Technology


Information technology

of service I knew would be second to none. “I contacted Oak Technology and they sent me the disc. I uploaded it and it was all very easy. They look after all of my systems remotely and they provide a great service.” Evolution FMS is Oak Technology’s funeral management software solution for funeral directors. As Simon explains, “it enables complete control of the entire funeral process, from the initial point of contact through to producing documents, invoices, payment tracking and reporting. Evolution FMS can save you time, money and increase efficiency by streamlining your administration tasks and providing instant access to current and historic information when you need it. If required, you can also access your information when out of the office so there is no need to waste time and money driving to and from your premises.” Alison Cook, company director of White Dove Funeral Home, agrees: “When our funeral home was in its infancy, we had looked at several demos of funeral management software, and initially we chose FMS because it suited both our needs and our budget. In the ensuing years there have been progressive improvements made to the FMS program and we have now found that it has grown far beyond our own personal needs, yet the cost has remained affordable and proven to be an excellent asset to our company. “We are able to produce everything required, from funeral invoicing, garage and workshop orders; to confirmation letters; to ministers, grave diggers, carriagemasters and such; donation letters for charities and families; press notices and memorial orders (to name but a few) at a simple click of a button. FMS gives you the ability to create the documents in a way that is personal to your own business needs. “The technical support we have received from Simon over the past four years has also been superb, and we have always received immediate and personal help with any problems or advice we needed. FMS has proven to be an outstanding and reliable member of our workforce.” The Evolution Funeral Management Software suite consists of Evolution FMS, which is software-based for computers running Microsoft Windows; Evolution FMS Anywhere web-based, which is suitable for all computers and mobile devices with internet access and an internet browser (including iPad, Android and BlackBerry); and Evolution FMS Anywhere intranet-based, which uses the same hardware as the web-based version, except that the data is stored locally. “We also provide a wide range of IT services to the funeral industry including consultation, system design and installation of computers, servers, software and services,” Simon adds. A new dawn When Eulogica was preparing to launch in the UK, it developed its system based on a close group of initial contacts who helped trial and test it. During this time they suggested features and the required items that would be the most useful. Those initial contacts still use the system today – one of which is F A Albins in London. “What we have found from experience is that there is a wide spectrum when it comes to IT. We have visited some funeral directors where they are still typing everything up on manual typewriters, and others where they have strong IT infrastructure in place,” says Dave Ball, from the IT support at Eulogica. “Times are slowly changing though – we are gradually hearing more people saying that they know they need to get a proper system in place; it’s just a matter of taking that first step.” In 2010, Tim McGough of Clement McGough & Sons in Stokeon-Trent contacted Eulogica when issues with his company’s existing software became too much. “We were having problems where figures were not adding up correctly, particularly VAT amounts. Documents were not being produced correctly either,” says Tim. The Eulogica team visited McGough’s to demonstrate and install a

“We are able to produce everything required, from funeral invoicing, garage and workshop orders; to confirmation letters; to ministers, grave diggers, carriagemasters and such”

Clement McGough & Sons

Southall Funeral Service

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Information technology

trial of the software. “The guys from Eulogica took the time to look over our documents and ask how we went about our daily business. This analysis resulted in the system being tweaked to fit our needs and to produce documents that we are happy to send to clients and suppliers. Subsequent alterations have been made with the minimum of fuss,” he explains.

“Even the accountant has complimented us on the greatly improved quality and accuracy of our financial reports” Eulogica is a bespoke system that can be tailored to the unique needs of each funeral director, and the company finds that it is common for further tweaking to be requested as users become more proficient and the system becomes integrated with the day-to-day workflow. As the company itself states, the whole point of installing a software system like Eulogica is to reduce the workload for staff so that they can spend more time helping families, while at the same time allowing them to produce work of a higher quality. Tim continues: “We have had Eulogica for some time now and it has been a big improvement on our work. Even the accountant has complimented us on the greatly improved quality and accuracy of our financial reports. We have peace of mind that our documents will be generated and figures added up correctly every time. It’s very easy to use and documents are easy to produce.” Southall Funeral Service in Middlesex recently undertook a move to modernise its paperwork system to the Eulogica bespoke funeral management system. One of the features that this company now uses frequently is the Service Sheets module. Southall’s Michael Tiney is now able to produce quality service sheets without having to outsource the work. “Eulogica has vastly improved the way we do business. All of our information is in one place and we don’t need to store lots of boxes stuffed with paperwork. It is also very beneficial to have an up-to-date overview of where the finances are,” he says.

Eulogica


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Information technology

I-Netco

Part of your world “Is there a need for a funeral director to market their business online?” asks Gerry King, managing director of I-Netco. The answer seems clear: “Figures demonstrate increasing internet use with no sign of slowing down, especially given the advances in broadband speeds and the range of devices being used to go online. These days, in addition to the traditional PC or laptop, there are now mobile phones, iPads, and TVs with access to the internet. Internet usage is going to be huge across many different platforms in the years ahead. “Online browsing is growing more in the 55 to 64 years age group than any other. It’s all a question of how people are spending their time – all of these people now browsing the internet are doing so instead of using other means of gathering information. To reach them, it is necessary to take control of marketing your business online with a simple and straightforward, well-structured website that is search engine optimised. This is not rocket science and it doesn’t necessarily need to involve substantial on-going monthly sums of money. Google wants to find you; the search engine thrives on returning relevant results to people using their facility to find local services. All you need to do is give Google and people using the search engine the right information.”

“If your shop on the high street is scruffy with flaking paint and dirty windows then people will go elsewhere – your website is your shop front on the internet and the same rules apply” Adrian Cartwright of Peter Martin Funeral Directors in Crawley recently had a website designed by I-Netco. He says: “[The website] represents the professional family business that we are. It shows all of the relevant information clearly and is easy to use for the enquirer. The fact that we can update it whenever we need to and promote any major relevant events is fantastic. Our advertising costs will go down, yet our business will reach further.” The internet also provides many low- or no-cost opportunities, as Gerry explains: “There are free Google Places listings for every business, as well as Google Analytics, which provides free comprehensive visitor statistics.” There is also the opportunity for a properly optimised website to appear on the first page of a Google search organically. “The Google business model depends upon giving

people the correct results. So if someone searches for ‘funeral director in [your town]’, your objective should be to have your actual website on page one of the results, rather than a directory listing or an automated ‘landing page’. “Once you’ve achieved this objective, you’ve completed half of the task. The next crucial objective is converting visitors into customers – just because you’re on page one, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the call, just as having a shop on the high street doesn’t guarantee customers. If your shop on the high street is scruffy with flaking paint and dirty windows then people will go elsewhere – your website is your shop front on the internet and the same rules apply.” Steven Barrett of RW Barrett & Son in Newcastle said of his experience: “Our website is modern and attractive and most importantly is bringing us new customers due to being found on Google. Compared to other packages we were offered we have had excellent value for money. “Gerry was recommended to RW Barrett & Son by a colleague in the funeral profession, and the effort he has put into making sure our website is something special has led me to recommend the service to other people.” Taking the plunge Before investing in new software or web presence, it is important to think about what you want it to do for you. What do you need it for? What aspects of the business could it make run more smoothly? Discuss the prospect with your employees, suppliers and clients – they may all have ideas for improving your business processes using IT. Devise a written plan of the objectives and potential benefits of new software, keeping in mind the returns on investment. And finally, be sure to choose software that is compatible with your hardware – the best approach is undoubtedly to develop a long-term strategy that will cover all of your IT needs.

Supplier listing Eulogica: 0845 351 9935 or www.eulogica.com I-Netco: 0191 420 2778 or www.funeraldirectorwebsites.co.uk Oak Technology: 0844 414 2199 or www.funeralsoftware.co.uk


18

Hearse and verse

The truest end of life… Peter Wyllie ends this current series of funeral poetry

with an appreciation of the glory and beauty of a life

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riting in 1693, William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, wrote: “The truest end of life is to know the life that never ends.” Certainly in most funeral services it is this sentiment that is expressed, whether in the Christian form of “in sure and certain hope of the resurrection” or in the idea that the deceased lives on in the hearts and minds of those they loved. The Glory of Life is Love The Glory of Life is not that it endures forever, but that, for a time, it includes so much that is beautiful. It is a tree to those that grasp it, and happy are all who retain it. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peaceful. We do not demand that the flower shall never die, nor that the song shall never end. Nor would we be angry with life because one day its beauty will be dust, its music silent, and all its laughter and tears forgotten. Life, the reality, is ours; we would shape it as nobly as we can. We will not linger, like timid sailors in port, but will live dangerously, devoting ourselves with vigour to what seems to us good, beautiful and true. The Glory of Life is Love. Unending. Author unknown Certainly, during the funeral service, we concentrate on the glory of life and focus on that which was beautiful during a lifetime, and on those memories that will live on and bring comfort in the future. In his 1927 song, Irving Berlin wrote: “The song has ended, but the melody lingers on.” And our memories will be like a haunting melody lingering long in the heart. I Do Not Think My Song Will End I do not think my song will end While flowers, grass and trees Abound with birds and butterflies For I am one with these. And I believe my voice will sound Upon the whispering wind So long as even one remains Among those I call “friend”. I shall remain in hearts and minds Of loved ones that I knew, And in the rocks and hills and streams Because I love those, too. So long as love and hope and dreams Abide in earth and sky, Weep not for me, though I be gone. I shall not really die. Johnny Hathcock During the last month I was asked by a fellow celebrant if I knew of a poem that could be used at the death of the second partner in a long, happy marriage. I realised that I didn’t know of one personally and so I decided to write one. As my final offering at the end of my series of articles, this is simply called, Together.

During the funeral service, we concentrate on the glory of life and focus on that which was beautiful during a lifetime


Hearse and verse

Together we have travelled along the road of life; A bond of love has held us, a husband and a wife. I remember, on our wedding day, that I gave you my hand and with joy, we both looked forward to the life that we had planned. We said “in sickness and in health” we’d always be together Through thick and thin; for rich or poor in every kind of weather. Days were not always sunny, not always dry and fair, but even in the stormy times; I knew that you were there. Our love grew stronger every day, our children added joy; Our family was a unit that nothing could destroy. How quickly then the years have passed; like the blinking of an eye We did not think about the time when one of us would die. So when the time came for my love to take a final breath Part of my heart went with you through the gateway into death And now that I must follow you, I know we’ll meet again As finally the link’s rejoined within our loving chain. The sting of death has been removed, there is no fear for me; We are, once again, together and our spirits are set free. For all of us in the funeral profession, whatever our role, our aim is always to give our best to the families we serve. I hope that you have enjoyed Hearse and Verse over the last 24 months, and have found some fresh verses to share with your families, to help them with their grief and loss. I will sign off in the words of my granny: “TTFN!” (or, ta-ta for now). Peter

If you have found a poem that is particularly appropriate to a certain situation we would still love to hear from you. Send your contributions to louise@funeralservicetimes.co.uk Peter Wyllie is an independent funeral celebrant and president of the AOIC. For more information please visit www.silverdove.org.uk or www.independentcelebrants.com

The Funeral Director’s Prayer Dear Lord, give me the patience needed to serve everyone as my own; the wisdom to understand others’ feelings; the knowledge to learn as well as to instruct; the kindness to treat everyone equally at all times; the strength to endure long hours and hard work; the desire to serve others as I would my own family; the humility to accept words of thanks and praise; the compassion to be able to touch another’s soul; the pride and the right to smile when I have served a family well; and, Lord, most importantly, the right to shed an honest tear when my heart is touched. Lord, make me thankful that I am a funeral director. Amen. Shared by funeral director and FST reader Victoria Davies, author unknown.

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products

Phoenix Marble & Granite Ltd

Phoenix Marble & Granite Ltd is a monumental stonemason based in Dorset, supplying the UK. With a combined experience in the trade of over 115 years, the company “creates the highest standards of craftsmanship.” It has been commissioned to create many standard and bespoke pieces, from pet memorials to royal commissions. The company adds that it has “the facilities and workforce to commit to a delivery schedule of 8 to 10 weeks for supply, and 10 to 12 weeks for supply and fixing for the majority of orders.” Information: 01202 894 110 or www.phoenixmandg.co.uk

Arrangingafuneral.co.uk

Arrangingafuneral.co.uk is a new website built to provide a one-stop, free online resource to help the recently bereaved find everything they need. Users can find free advice and articles; direct links to organisations, charities and support groups; and a unique ‘ask the expert’ feature for specific questions. The website has a national search directory listing funeral directors, florists, memorial masons and other funeral-related services. “Arrangingafuneral.co.uk is the perfect platform for organisations in the bereavement sector to improve online presence and drive more customers to your door.” Information: 0844 576 4520, info@arrangingafuneral.co.uk, www.arrangingafuneral.co.uk

Milby Coldrooms

Milby Coldrooms offers advice and experience in choosing the right facility for your business needs. It supplies the following products to funeral directors: multiple body storage; standard mortuary chambers; obese mortuary chambers; integral and remote refrigeration systems; body racks to include full width racks or stainless steel stub roller systems; and stainless steel body trays, standard and obese. “All Milby mortuaries are designed, manufactured and installed by our own engineers, with no compromise to quality and at an affordable price,” the company adds. Information: 0116 260 6617, sales@milby-coldrooms.co.uk or www.milby-coldrooms.co.uk

Omega Supplies

Omega Supplies is proud to present its new range of natural stone ‘egg’ and ‘ball’ shaped urns. The urns are available in both full size and keepsake size and come in three colours: black, white and cream. For further information or to order this product, please contact Omega using the details below. Information: 01507 440 200 or 07872 665 024 (Mark Richards)

Olympia Metal Spinners

Olympia Metal Spinners has announced the introduction of new products available to the funeral trade. The company has added stone effect/pebble to the list of colours it already offers, and this can be used on all Olympia products. Also offered are new ‘In Loving Memory’ inscriptions that can be personalised with Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother, Grandma, Grandad and Nana in a choice of silver or gold lettering. Information: 0113 240 1070, olympiabrand@btconnect.com or www.olympiametalspinners.co.uk


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Bereavement

Parental support Rev George Callander provides a thought-provoking

overview of the complex emotions, responses and needs of all members of a family when coping with the death of a child

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he death of a baby or child is one of the most difficult situations faced by all bereavement practitioners. No matter how experienced we are, dealing with clients bereaved by the death of a child can be extremely challenging, yet also very rewarding. The enormity of our clients’ loss is often overlooked by the world at large – not through malice or unkindness, but simply because we as a society prefer subconsciously to shelve the knowledge that babies and children can die. Only a few generations ago, the death of babies and children was all too common, and most families would have experienced the death of at least one child. Even today when visiting bereaved families I am told that mum or dad was one of many siblings, but that only a few had reached adulthood. Infant and child death was part of family life. In the UK today, however, medical, economical and social conditions have improved to the point that many of us (the

population in general) go through life never being faced first-hand with the death of a baby or child; which makes it so much harder when we are. Infant and child death touches us in a way that no other death does. We experience very powerful emotions at such a time, as we wrestle with our own understanding of loss; our own interpretation of the natural order of things. Whatever we think and believe, and to some extent what we have experienced in our personal lives, none of us can place ourselves wholly in the shoes of individual bereaved parents, because every experience of infant and child death is different and unique. What do I mean by this? Put simply, every person coping with a child’s death will experience their own grief journey, in their own terms, at their own speed and in their own way. Although there will be elements common to each person, there are also unique considerations:

Every person coping with a child’s death will experience their own grief journey, in their own terms, at their own speed and in their own way Image: Anissa Thompson


Bereavement

Grieving dads and grandparents Bereaved dads often feel sidelined, with all attention focused on mums, but their grief is no less real or valid. Some men also find it difficult to express their sorrow. This may be for a number of reasons: • Not used to public displays of sorrow. • They want to protect their partner (or themselves). • Hormonal differences between genders. • Fear of opening up to others. • Sense of failure as a father. • Feelings of helplessness. We can help bereaved dads (and granddads) begin to address their loss by gently talking about the situation. Providing details of appropriate support groups and resources may allow them to begin moving forward – at their own speed and in their own time. We must always reassure them that they are not alone in their grief, and to see it is good and necessary to grieve, not only for their child but for themselves and their partner too. Grandparents also have particular needs – they are not only grieving for the loss of their grandchild, but for the sorrows of their own child. Bereaved parents turn to their immediate family, friends and other professionals for

emotional and practical support, but often cannot find words adequate enough to express how they feel and what they need to allow them to heal from their profound loss. As bereavement practitioners, it is not our role to make things completely better; we can’t – no one can. What we can do is use our expertise to guide, support and inform parents as they begin to make their way forward. Grieving siblings Bereaved parents can be so wrapped-up emotionally by the death of a child that they sideline their surviving children. It is important to reassure parents that they will be able to cope with the others. There can be a tendency to clam-up and not display any emotion for fear of upsetting them, but parents openly expressing their grief can help their surviving children to understand that it is good to grieve – it is a normal, healthy part of the human condition. Bereaved parents should be gently guided to see that they must never isolate their surviving children emotionally or physically. To do so could potentially lead to life-long trauma. Research shows that children of all ages sense unease in their parents and respond more positively to open grief. Parental silence and irritability cause anxiety and confusion in children who may feel in some way that their sibling’s death is their fault. Children process grief and understand death in their own way. Parents and other responsible adults should be clear and open in response to

Image: Joseph Hoban

Grieving mums Mum is the person who carries the developing foetus within her. She is aware of the physical changes to her body as the baby grows and makes its presence felt. Mums spend their pregnancy doing their utmost to ensure the safe development of their baby. They make plans for its arrival and its future: they picture the years ahead and the joy of adding a baby to the family, and enjoying those baby milestones. Imagine, then, the shock of discovering those dreams and hopes have been shattered by the loss of the pregnancy by miscarriage or the death of the baby before, during or after birth. Everything she had wished for in that child has gone. The infant may have died, but the mum’s body is still geared up for nurturing a child. She has so much to deal with following the birth, compounded further by also having to come to terms with the baby’s death. Physiologically, women who experience miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death are physically, hormonally and emotionally ready for the arrival of a baby who will now never arrive. In neonatal deaths, parents have also had some days to bond with their baby and have begun to settle into the parenting role – even though their child may have been critically ill from birth.

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Bereavement

their questions and feelings. Each surviving child had a unique relationship with their deceased sibling, and therefore they will have their own grief journey to make, supported by family and, if appropriate, professional agencies. It is most important to reinforce that the rough and tumble of sibling relationships did not cause the death of their brother or sister; or if mum was pregnant, they did nothing to cause the loss of that pregnancy. In years gone by, mothers and fathers were generally unable to see, hold or touch their dead baby or child. When a baby died it was whisked away, leaving the mother (and father) bewildered and hurting. It is my experience that people whose babies died many years ago felt (and continue to feel in many cases) that their child was of no importance – and in many respects did not exist. This has caused a life-time of grief and isolation. In cases of stillbirth, later miscarriage and neonatal death, parents should be able to see, hold and spend time with their baby if they wish, before giving him or her a formal funeral. I have known bereaved parents take the child’s body home for a few days so they can have him or her at the heart of their family – even for a short time. Although deeply painful, being able to be physically close to the baby or child can be a cathartic experience, allowing the mother to (for however short a period of time) actually be that child’s mother. By extension, this can benefit other relatives too. Parents bereaved by late miscarriage may experience further sorrow, as the expected date of delivery approaches and then passes – even some time after the funeral. They may need and want to talk through their loss time and again, and we should be able to talk authoritatively about resources available to them and gently

guide and support, answering questions clearly and factually. As bereavement practitioners we do not have a magic wand to take away the pain of loss, but in supporting bereaved parents we might be able to lessen the pain simply by being available to them. Above all, we must know instinctively when to be silent...

We can all help [parents] to celebrate the influence the little-one had and will always have in their lives It is often best to say nothing. Just be present, and listen. Encourage those you are supporting to express their pain, grief, doubt and sorrow and to be open and honest about their feelings. Working through these feelings is a gateway to healing, and two-way communication is of paramount importance. Bereaved parents I work with occasionally say they feel embarrassed that there is not much to be said at the baby’s funeral. On the contrary – I believe we can all help them to celebrate the influence (no matter how tiny or unformed the deceased child was) the little-one had and will always have in their lives. He or she will always be the parents’ child – as important as any other deceased person and family we care for.

The Rev George Callander FRSA is senior minister of the liberal Christian UK Open Free Church, president of the Society of Bereavement Practitioners, and a bereavement specialist practitioner, speaker and trainer. Please visit www.gscallander.com or www.socbp.org for more information.


Coffin furnishings

JC Atkinson

Fixtures and fittings

Louise Hoffman takes a look at some of the

handles, nameplates, ornaments and linings that are available to add finishing touches to a coffin

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mall additions can make all the difference when it comes to choosing and finalising a coffin design, with families able to take a more active role in the planning of their loved ones’ final send-off. With the current popularity of picture coffins, and those that friends and family can decorate with words and drawings, it is important to remember that plenty of options also exist for personalising traditional coffins. For example, there is the Heartwood Range of coffin furniture and fittings from JC Atkinson, which offers a comprehensive range encompassing products that are suitable for both burial and cremation. “As a coffin manufacturer, JC Atkinson can provide fully fitted coffins with handles, t-ends, nameplates, wreath holders and a selection of ornaments including crucifix, Masonic ornaments, cords and tassels. We can also provide these fittings as separate items if required,� says sales and marketing manager Mark Morris.

JC Atkinson

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Coffin furnishings

“It’s the sheer breadth of our range that sets it apart,” he continues. “We have furniture and fittings available in plastic, metal and wood, with many available in a choice of finishes – either electro brass or nickel.” As well as providing furniture and fittings for the outside of the coffin, JC Atkinson can also offer a range of coffin interiors and gowns – satin frills, either double ruffle or elasticated; quilted pillow slips; and satin gowns – as well as Cremfilm, Stitchbond and wadding. “As part of our commitment to our environmental policies we have also recently launched a range of products aimed at taking small steps to a greener funeral,” Mark adds. “These include biodegradable Cremfilm, cotton frills and gown sets.” Leslie R Tipping also boasts a large range of coffin furnishings in plastic, wood or metal, to complement any coffin or casket. The range – which includes items such as handles, plates, t-ends, wreath holders and belltops, to suit any requirement or budget – can be viewed and ordered via the Leslie R Tipping website (address below), with other, more bespoke items available on request. “We offer flexibility too, in order to accommodate the needs of small independent funeral directors or large multi-site businesses. Furnishings can be purchased in small quantities by the box (or less in some instances), or in bulk, where competitive discounts are available,” the company adds. Sundry products complement the range of coffin furnishings, with high quality items such as velvet, lace and net coffin palls; coffin covers and drapes; lowering cords and cardboard pillows to name a few. Fixings such as staples, heavy duty staple guns and pins/nails in a variety of sizes are also available, as well as coffin lining products including Cremfilm and Stitchbond in various widths, PVC, disposable removal sheets and wadding. Finally, DJ MacNeice & Co is a company with more than 80 years’ experience in the business, and serves as a one-stop shop, offering a full range of products and services to funeral homes, coffin makers, mortuary technicians and universities in Ireland and Britain. As part of its furnishings range, the company is able to offer coffin and casket nameplates, handles and fixings, to help funeral directors tailor their coffins to clients’ needs. Plastic products suitable for cremations are also available. Also popular are the carved figures that can be added to coffins for decorative interest, such as the Last Supper and Lourdes examples pictured.

Leslie R Tipping

Supplier listing DJ Macneice: 00353 1882 8731 or office@djmacneice.com JC Atkinson: 0191 415 1516 or www.coffins.co.uk Leslie R Tipping: 0161 480 7629 or www.lrtipping.co.uk DJ Macneice


32

Over To You

In fine voice Carole Stockill of Maillard’s Funeral Directors shares

the heart-warming story of Jersey’s very own funeral choir

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t was a cold November day last year and we had just conducted a funeral at our local crematorium. After the family had left we were speaking to the vicar who complimented us on the way that our staff had jumped in and started singing during that embarrassing moment when no-one in the congregation joins in with the hymns. “It’s so uplifting for the bereaved when you do that,” he said. I must admit this was not the first occasion it had happened. In fact, if any of our bereaved families were anxious that there would be an awkward silence or they would not be able to sing themselves, we would run around the office grabbing any available member of staff to come with us to boost the congregational voice – we are lucky enough at Maillard’s to have a limousine company and an estate agents with very dedicated staff members! Our vicar went on to say that when he lived in Wales, it was not uncommon for a funeral choir to turn up to help with the final send-off. The idea of a funeral choir – how ludicrous! Or was it…? After an article appeared in our evening newspaper appealing for volunteers to join us, we had the first meeting of the choir with over 20 people turning up. At this stage we hadn’t really planned how things were going to proceed, or indeed how on earth we were going to manage the choir or the choir practices. But it was at this meeting that the answers appeared, in the form of two organists who already play at funeral services, and who put themselves forward to be our choir masters.

We had our first choir practice in January of this year and as it turned out we quickly hit the ground running. To our surprise, our first booking was the following week! Since then we have been asked to attend funerals both at the crematorium and local parish churches. As we have become more well known, we have even been asked to sing at weddings – requests we have had to decline as we do not wish to stray away from the core reason that we were set up. Jersey is a small island nine miles long by five miles wide, with an average death rate of about 750 people a year, but we are already being asked to sing at two to three services a week. The group now has 32 members, but our popularity has meant that we have had to go on local TV and radio to appeal for more people to join us, so that we can cope with demand. We do not charge for our services – everyone is a volunteer – but if the family is really insistent about making a donation then we give the money back to their own chosen charity in memory of the deceased. There are so many other lovely things that have come out of our funeral choir, which we could never have envisaged when we started out. The feedback received from the funeral services we have attended has been amazing. The families we have helped say that they are comforted and uplifted by our voices; others say that they were too upset to sing so they were relieved that we were there to lead the congregation. We are developing into a real group of friends and people are even meeting up for coffee outside of choir practice. Some of

our members have been recently bereaved themselves and the group is providing a structure to their week and getting them out and about again. At Christmas we have our first ‘gig’. We have been asked by the local Women’s Refuge to sing at their fundraising event. All of the singers are really looking forward to it and we have started practising our ‘signature tunes’ for such events. To date we still do not have a name for our choir. We have had many suggestions but nothing really jumps out as us. Anyhow, it seems that to most people in Jersey we are known as the ‘Funeral Choir’, so it looks like that is what we are destined to be called.

If you would like to follow the news of the Funeral Choir, you can find them on Facebook or contact Carole Stockill at Maillard’s Funeral Directors – carole@maillards.je or 01534 737 291


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Interview

Prime opportunities Peter Prime, owner of Prime Limousine Services, tells Louise Hoffman about the growth of his company, from a small secondhand car lot to a successful carriagemasters, and the pride he takes in helping his customers to develop their own businesses

Firstly, can you tell me a little about the history of Prime Limousine Services? In 1969 I used my £200 redundancy money from the British Rail Management Training Scheme to start a small secondhand car sales business – I was 21 at the time. This developed through the 70s, and by the early 1980s I owned a local village garage with car sales, petrol forecourt and servicing facilities. I was keen to diversify the business, and when a local funeral director who was a customer at the garage told me that he was unhappy with the limousine hire company he was using, I decided to buy a suitable limousine to hire to him. In 1984 I owned just one limousine, but by 1987 I was hiring five plus a hearse, as

I found that there was a considerable local demand for our services. In that year I sold the garage business and moved to an industrial unit in Yaxley, Peterborough, very close to my home. Prime Limousine Services is now the largest carriagemasters business in the east of England, providing transport for around 1,200 funerals in the last year. What is your background in vehicle sales? And when did you develop an interest in limousines and hearses? Owning a garage business meant that I was ideally placed to expand into limousines and hearse sales. I have always had a keen interest in motor vehicles and was convinced that I could

offer a good service to smaller independent funeral directors, whom I felt were being overlooked by some of the bigger dealers. Which vehicles make up your hire fleet? I currently keep a fleet of six limousines and three hearses available for hire – a mixture of Jaguars/Daimlers and Vauxhalls. I have just added a Vauxhall Insignia hearse and limousine (pictured opposite, bottom), and am constantly aware of the need to keep a modern, professional fleet. And which models do you have available to buy, at time of writing? For over 10 years now I have had a close


Interview

business relationship with the coachbuilder Fearghas Quinn in Northern Ireland, and have had considerable success marketing newly built limousines and hearses based on nearly new Vauxhall and Ford donor vehicles. Currently I have a Vauxhall Insignia ‘Premier’ limousine and hearse available for demonstration and am taking orders for delivery in the autumn. These vehicles represent tremendous value for money and have a great appeal to the independent funeral director who initially thought that newly built vehicles would be beyond his or her budget. On the used vehicle front I currently have a good selection of Vauxhall Omega limousines and hearses. These vehicles have stood the test of time very well, and with 2002/3 limousines now available at under £10,000 they represent excellent value for money. How should funeral directors decide between hiring or buying? In a lot of cases the smaller funeral director has little choice but to buy, as there are no decent vehicles available for hire locally. Hiring is an excellent option for additional vehicles and for the funeral director who simply does not want the trouble of owning and maintaining his or her own fleet. Sometimes lack of garaging can also be a problem, which swings a funeral director towards hiring. As far as the economics are concerned, I think that if you need to use a hearse or limousine more than about 50 times a year it is more economical to own than to hire, as it is quite possible to buy a very useable vehicle for no more than £10,000. What does your service offering include? As I have already mentioned we have an excellent fleet of limousines and hearses available for hire, and a good range of newly built and used vehicles available for sale. In addition I am able to give advice on the best way to finance purchases. Although I do not have service facilities, I have built up over the years very good contacts with local companies which offer general and specialised vehicle servicing, bodywork and auto electrical services, and I am pleased to share this knowledge with funeral directors looking to refurbish their existing fleet. What do you believe sets your company apart from its competitors? As a small independent company I have a business that is very much the same size as those of the customers I am dealing with. I set high standards when it comes to preparation

of vehicles for sale and the standard of vehicles in our hire fleet. I know that this comes as a very pleasant surprise to new customers, as I am often told the standard of service they have received from some of our competitors leaves a lot to be desired. I have built up over the years a lot of customers who have come back many times with repeat business, and I like to think that they have become good friends as well as clients. What do you enjoy most about your job? I am now at the age when a lot of people contemplate retirement, but I still very much enjoy meeting funeral directors and travelling around the country, and I certainly intend to go on for a while yet. I feel that I have been very fortunate to have enjoyed

good health and had such an interesting and rewarding career. Looking to the future, what are your hopes and goals for the remainder of 2012? I hope that I will be able to continue offering and improving the service that we provide. It is very satisfying to see new starters in the funeral profession grow – we are currently supplying vehicles to several of these, and I like to think that we are playing a significant part in getting these businesses off the ground. In the long term I am taking steps to secure the future of the business so that it can continue to flourish and expand even after my time has finished.

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Interview

Special delivery Carey Holland, managing director of Anglia Courier Express (East Anglia) Ltd, tells Louise Hoffman about the company’s brand new Butterfly Transfers division, for delivery of cremated remains symbol of transformation, inspiration and rebirth. The name Butterfly Transfers was finally decided on after chatting to a funeral director friend, Lizzy Bollington-Kinch MBIE DipFD of Daniel Robinson & Sons of Braintree. My stepdaughter then came up with the idea for the logo, which we refined with the help of Steve Smith from Chilli Graphics who deals with our graphic design. Moving on to the website, we worked with Mark Crisell from Crisell Internet, who developed the web page and looked after the SEO. Why not take a look for yourself at www.butterflytransfers.co.uk?

On 1 July 2012 Anglia Courier Express launched Butterfly Transfers – a dedicated service for funeral directors. Can you tell us the reasons behind this decision? Anglia Courier Express (East Anglia) Ltd provides a nationwide, dedicated same-day courier service from our Essex base. As part of this we have been carrying out the delivery of cremated remains for some time now, and this has been well received within the funeral profession. Therefore it made sense to dedicate part of the business to providing this service, with its own branding and website, while remaining part of Anglia Courier Express with all of the knowledge, expertise and resources that come from an experienced courier company. What did the branding exercise entail? Firstly we decided on the name – we chose to use ‘butterfly’ because of the spiritual meanings that are attached to this creature by many cultures across the globe; it is a

How does this launch reflect your dedication to your clients? By having a separate website we can provide all of the relevant information in one place and this should be easily accessible via the internet for anyone looking for this service, whether or not they have already heard about us. Which services can you offer funeral directors in 2012? As with our core business of dedicated sameday courier work, we are able to arrange collections from any point in the UK, be it funeral directors’ premises or crematoria, for delivery both UK-wide and worldwide. In terms of UK delivery, families will understandably be hesitant to place the cremated remains of a loved one in the hands of any service where there is a likelihood of loss or less-than-respectful handling procedures, and that is why we at Butterfly Transfers offer our bespoke, dedicated service. We collect the cremated remains from the funeral director and deliver directly to the destination, be it another funeral director or directly to the family. We are in full control of the safety of this precious cargo and we hope that knowing this will give the family and friends of the deceased peace of mind. We believe in supplying a first class service with attention to detail that focuses on the needs of our clients. International transfer of cremated

remains is also available, and in recent months we have been asked to organise delivery to destinations such as the USA, Australia and Europe, and these have been successfully completed. The main issue with international transfers seems to be that some airlines are not willing to transport cremated remains and therefore overnight companies are unable to accept them. However we have contacts who can arrange the flight, and once it reaches its country of destination the consignment is then placed on an overnight system. From this point we are able to track the progress and have made successful deliveries within the United States and Australia. Copies of death certificates and a commercial invoice are required for all international shipments. Whilst we are both willing and able to provide a dedicated service for international deliveries, we have not been asked to do so as yet as this would involve the courier accompanying the remains to the destination and may be cost-prohibitive (but my bag is packed and ready!). Our quote process is quite simple – we just require the collection and the delivery postcodes in order to provide an accurate cost.


Interview

Resting in peace Nicky Whichelow, head of group marketing at GreenAcres Woodland Burial Parks, describes some of the most appealing aspects of woodland burial, and of the company’s own service offering Firstly, can you tell us the story behind GreenAcres Woodland Burials? GreenAcres Woodland Burials (formerly Woodland Burial Parks Group) has been instrumental in the UK development of a unique, meaningful and award-winning concept that has revolutionised the funeral industry. With the number of ‘woodland’ or ‘natural’ parks in the UK having increased from just five in 1999, to 255 in 2009, several factors have contributed to the rise of this burial concept: • A nationwide shortage of burial space in traditional cemeteries. • A move towards increasingly personalised funerals. • Increased environmental awareness (concerns about cremation emissions and the use of nonbiodegradable materials. So, from humble beginnings in 2001, the first GreenAcres site in Colney Wood in Norwich became a flagship example and led to the development of two further sites: Epping Forest Burials in 2008, and Chiltern Woodland Burials in 2009. At 72 acres, Chiltern is believed to be the largest site of its kind in the UK. GreenAcres Woodland Burial Parks are unique and stunningly beautiful places. But most importantly, customer service is paramount. Shortlisted for two major UK and European customer service awards at the beginning of June 2012, the highly professional

team provides the exemplary levels of customer service that the business has become renowned for. Uniquely, all GreenAcres woodland sites are open and fully staffed 365 days a year, providing a totally personal funeral experience.

The GreenAcres Woodland Burials ethos is to provide funeral services that are in tune with modern living How might a typical funeral proceed? Pretty much the same as you would expect in a more traditional setting, but carried out in the peace and tranquillity of a beautiful woodland. Our award-winning cedar wood ceremonial buildings mean families can gather together before the funeral for teas and coffees before moving into the ceremonial woodland hall where the service takes place. Seating up to 130 people, the hall is fully accessible by those who are less mobile, and the floorto-ceiling windows on one side invite the beauty of the woodland into the room. Customers can take up to two hours from start to finish, so there is never a feeling of being rushed, and as the buildings are fully equipped, the wake or celebration of life can also be catered for at the burial park itself.

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Interview

Apart from the beautiful settings, which other special touches can the parks offer to those holding funerals there? With mortality rates set to rise – and death still a taboo topic for most – GreenAcres Woodland Burials’ ethos is to provide ‘a better bereavement experience’ through: • more choice (ie a choice of plots; flexible funeral arrangements tailored to personal wishes; on-site facilities for services and celebrations of life; payment plans; flat pricing policy; open to those of all and no faiths); • the setting of high standards of operation (five times winner in the Cemetery of the Year Awards; and Green Apple, IIP, Green Hero and Green Flag holders); • parks remaining open and staffed 365 days a year; • the development and implementation of a 25-year woodland management plan to restore and enhance the biodiversity of the woodlands; • allowing at least two hours between funerals (avoiding the ‘conveyor belt’ feel); • employment of woodland management, funeral planning and customer service specialists; • delivery of specialist bereavement support training to all staff; • development of close relationships with local funeral directors; • on-going customer feedback evaluation by an independent third party. The GreenAcres Woodland Burials ethos is to provide funeral services that are in

“It was more than a burial – it was a lovely venue and staff team; caring people who love their jobs” tune with modern living, while at the same time upholding the highest standards of care for the bereaved, the environment and local communities. In your own words, how would you describe the atmosphere at the parks? Through our ethos and practices, GreenAcres Woodland Burials demonstrate a real example of the combination of ethical performance, social support and environmental awareness, which is good for people, good for nature and good for the economy. While the parks are generally located close to conurbations, they are in open countryside and directly benefit the rural economy. Each of our parks employs up to 15 full and part time employees, with approximately half of these working directly in managing and maintaining the woodland. Our parks have also become a part of the local community, both through the provision of funeral and bereavement services and by making the woodland halls available as a venue for social and cultural events such as talks and choral and music events, often linked to fundraising for charities. Through its involvement in the local community, GreenAcres has also: • raised more than £24,000 for local charities in 2011; • engaged with over 2,000 people from all ages and backgrounds through a programme of educational events;

• implemented a buying policy to further increase the use of recycled products, such as stationery, and those supporting sustainability, for example cleaning materials and energy; • encouraged the development of local projects and initiatives. Do you have plans to open any more sites in the near future? Notwithstanding the above, GreenAcres can, of course, only be truly successful if it appeals to consumers. Feedback shows that the two most important features of the parks are the friendly, helpful staff and the woodland setting, while the deciding factor was the beauty and ambience of the parks. One of the recent comments we received was: “It was more than a burial – it was a lovely venue and staff team; caring people who love their jobs.” Time and time again, testimonials highlight how much the customers value the service provided, with some 85 per cent of customers making the decision to purchase upon their first visit. With plans to open a further five new sites over the next two years, GreenAcres aims to enable more people to benefit from its tailored, personal service, which allows the bereaved to give their loved ones the send-off that they deserve, while opening up, protecting and enhancing the environment.


Obituaries

Rest in peace A tribute to some well-known individuals who have sadly passed away during the last month Image: Joe Giordano

29 May – Doc Watson (aged 89) Arthel Lane ‘Doc’ Watson was an American folk musician famed for his flatpicking guitar style. Despite losing his sight in early childhood, Watson went on to be regarded as one of folk music’s most influential figures and won numerous awards and accolades throughout his career; including seven Grammys and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. As he grew older his performances became fewer and further between, though he always made time to perform at MerleFest – named and held in honour of his late son. His music reached a new audience when Robert Plant and Alison Krauss covered the Watson-penned Your Long Journey on their critically acclaimed 2007 album, Raising Sand.

5 June – Ray Bradbury (aged 91) Ray Douglas Bradbury was an American author most noted for his science fiction works. Upon leaving school Bradbury was already publishing his stories in amateur fanzines and was active within the LA Science Fiction Society. His collection of short stories The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man gained him his initial fame, but it was to be his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 that would gain Bradbury universal recognition. An attack on television rather than the state, Fahrenheit 451 is regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest literary works. Before his death, Bradbury had many awards bestowed upon him, including the National Medal of Arts award in 2004.

7 June – Bob Welch (aged 66) Robert Lawrence ‘Bob’ Welch Jr was a musician who was a member of Fleetwood Mac between 1971 and 1974. Recruited by Fleetwood Mac to replace Jeremy Spencer, Welch led the band during their transitional period from blues band to melodic rock group, before resigning after three years and five albums of service. After his departure from the group, Welch scored a number of solo hits that included a re-working of his signature Mac track Sentimental Lady. He died just six months after one-time fellow band member Bob Weston, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Nashville home.

11 June – Ann Rutherford (aged 94) Mary Cecilia Ramone Therese Ann Rutherford was a Canadian-American actress who enjoyed a 41-year career. Rutherford began her career in Hollywood in 1935 and soon established herself as a popular leading lady in western films. Her most famous turn came as Polly Benedict, girlfriend of Mickey Rooney’s titular character, in the immensely popular Andy Hardy film series. In 1939 she convinced MGM, to whom she was contracted, to loan her to Selznick International Pictures and let her appear as Carreen O’Hara, sister of Scarlet, in the immortal Gone with the Wind.

12 June – Henry Hill (aged 69) As far back as he could remember, he wanted to be a gangster. If you have read Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy or seen Martin Scorcese’s film Goodfellas, you will know all about the life of Henry Hill Jr. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Hill began working for the Lucchese crime family in his early teens. Together with Jimmy Burke and close friend Thomas ‘Tommy’ DiSimone, he was behind the ‘Lufthansa Heist’, and after being arrested on narcotics charges in 1980, he agreed to testify against his associates and enter the witness protection programme. Hill was expelled from the programme for continual criminal activity in 1989, and in later years became sought-after for television and radio appearances.

14 June – Gitta Sereny (aged 91) Gitta Sereny CBE was an Austrian-born British author celebrated for her studies into malevolence and theorising how to explain it. Her first-hand teenage experience of the Nuremberg Rally resulted in a lifelong fascination with the calculated ruthlessness of the Nazis and their psyche. Her meticulous research and psychoanalytical techniques were renowned, as was her belief that it is nurture, rather than nature, which affects human behaviour in later life. Sereny was appointed honorary CBE for services to journalism in 2003.

18 June – Tom Maynard (aged 23) Thomas Lloyd Maynard, who died after being hit by a London Underground train, was a Welsh cricketer who played for Surrey. The son of former Glamorgan and England batsman Matthew Maynard, he rose through the ranks at Glamorgan before his move to Surrey in 2011. Maynard was called up to the England Lions tour of Bangladesh in early 2012 and it was predicted that he would have followed in his father’s footsteps to graduate to full England honours.

Image: Alan Light

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YOUR STORY

your story Christine Parker, managing director,

Abbey Funeral Services Abbey Funeral Services was founded in 1983. What are the most significant changes you have witnessed in the profession in the last 29 years? Without a doubt the formation of SAIF as a vital benefit for the independent; the growth of funeral planning (which we all thought would never catch on); and the increase in the number of women funeral directors. You have won numerous awards, as well as having held presidency positions at SAIF. Can you tell us more? Our awards have been mainly for our work in the local community, as we have always regarded corporate responsibility as a key part of the business. Anybody can just sit in an office and write a cheque; we actually roll up our sleeves and do something practical to help. Our Funeral Planner of the Year awards

have come because of hard work selling funeral plans and making it a subject of discussion wherever we can. I was recently asked to speak to a Mothers’ Union group about the effects of bereavement on the family, and having included funeral planning in my speech I ended up selling two plans! I believe we all need to look after our future market every bit as much as our current market share. As far as being SAIF’s president is concerned, my husband Jim and I have both held that position – it’s a year of hard work, responsibility and juggling commitments. It was a huge honour to represent the independent sector in this way and be regarded by our peers as suitable. You also sponsor and run Friends Together groups. What do these involve? Should it be mandatory for funeral homes to offer aftercare? Friends Together started as a small bereavement support lunch club in my village. I prepared the food and then ran it down to the village hall, a bit like meals on wheels. Five years on it has grown to such an extent that we have turned it into a charity, which is running five lunch club groups and one coffee club. We are aiming to have a bereavement support drop-in centre within the next two years if we can raise the funds. My family were a bit aghast when I said I wanted to grow this into a full blown charity. It seems that at 65 people expect one to slow down, not speed up! I think that funeral directors are well placed to see the needs of the bereaved and do something to support them, but I don’t think aftercare should be mandatory. There is also a lot done by charities which I believe

should be provided by organisations such as the NHS. The private sector should not be required to make good the shortcomings of central government. We all do what our conscience demands of us. What do you enjoy most about your job? I started my working life as a nurse and nurses know about encouraging and helping patients through difficult times. We face people on a daily basis who need those same skills – our client families are in pain, albeit emotional and not physical pain, and I value the ability to help. I also enjoy the versatility; no day is ever the same. What is your biggest day-to-day challenge? Maintaining my margins in a shrinking economy, whilst remaining competitive. What changes to the profession can you see happening in the future? I wish I had a crystal ball and could answer that. What I would hope for is that the Government would be more generous with DWP payments and recognise that we can’t work for nothing, or cover the shortfall; and that in the future doctors and vicars et al collect their own fees and take their share of the hit when the funeral account isn’t paid. Are there any plans in the pipeline for Abbey Funerals in the near future? We have just moved into a satellite unit in a nearby village, which will help enormously with our current cramped building in the high street. We do have some exciting plans for further expansion but they are still very much in the planning stage.

If you would like to appear on this page, please send an introductory email to Naida Ally at naida@funeralservicetimes.co.uk


Funeral Service Times July 2012  

Funeral Service Times is a magazine dedicated to all those involved in the funeral service profession. Targeting funeral directors throughou...