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The independent voice of the funeral profession

Established 2006

ISSN 2046-7273


ervice times

Dream to reality Building a trike hearse

Homeward bound Today’s repatriation services

Creative ceremonies Peter Wyllie suggests ways in which families and friends can participate in funeral ceremony proceedings

Tributes in print A selection of condolence books, orders of service, sympathy cards and other funeral stationery designs


This month

september 2 012 C o n te n t s


The latest news from the profession




Homeward bound 


Creative ceremonies


Tributes in print


New products and services from the trade Louise Hoffman speaks with the teams responsible for bringing the bodies of loved ones back home to their families in the UK, ready to embark on their final journey

In the first of a new series of articles looking at ideas for funeral services, celebrant Peter Wyllie focuses on family involvement in the ceremony Callum Gildart takes a look at the products and services of a selection of stationery providers, all of which can add a colourful and personal dimension to a funeral service

Bereavement34 Rev George Callander writes in tribute to Winnie Johnson, who spent more than half of her life fighting tirelessly to locate her son Keith Bennett, a victim of the moors murderers

Over to you


From dream to reality


A journey of discovery


Growing popularity


Classic campers


Protecting children


A breath of life


Precious habitats


Change for the better


Fresh from the set of a brand new Welsh television series, SAIF tells us the story of its involvement in the programmes Robert Adams describes the production process behind his brand new, bespoke trike hearse, which is set to hit the road this month

Jeane Trend-Hill widens her cemetery exploration, visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and San Michele Cemetery Island in Venice James Meynell of FTP Ecocoffins Ltd tells Louise Hoffman about his company’s latest coffin, and his thoughts on the growth of eco burial Having purchased a rare Volkswagen hearse in 2007, Clare Brookes has been able to provide a unique service to the bereaved, as Louise Hoffman discovers

The NSPCC explains how volunteers are the driving force behind the ChildLine Schools Service, and how funeral directors can get involved to make a lasting difference to children The British Lung Foundation discusses its Breath of Life tribute funds, which allow the bereaved to raise money in their loved ones’ memory The Woodland Trust explains how funeral directors can help in its fight to conserve and restore ancient woodland The Circulation Foundation outlines its contributions to the funding of vascular disease treatment research, and the support of sufferers

Your story

Stephen Love, director of Willowfield Private Funeral Home


uring the past month, my colleague Cal and I have been pleased to see an especially large number of press releases appearing in our inboxes, which are announcing the educational achievements of members of the profession. This would suggest that many more funeral directors are seeing qualifications as a real benefit to their personal and professional development; and are motivated to embark upon one of the many excellent courses now available to them. Indeed, the range of educational programmes has also expanded significantly over the past year or so; the most recent addition being the British Institute of Funeral Directors’ (BIFD) new suite of qualifications, which includes the Certificate in Funeral Service and the Diploma in Funeral Service – sure to become popular options. Whilst many of the attributes required to perform the role of a funeral director cannot be taught, I believe that building upon skills and understanding is invaluable (perhaps especially in caring professions), both in terms of delivering the best possible service to clients, and in terms of developing the morale and confidence of staff members. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject. Perhaps you are currently studying for a qualification, or have just achieved one? Or, conversely, perhaps you don’t believe that such courses are necessary at all? If you have a view to share, please send me an email to the address below; a letter to the postal address on the following page; or you can always tweet to us @FST_Magazine! Best wishes for the month ahead.

Louise Hoffman

Obituaries60 A tribute to some of those who have died recently

Editor’s letter


For the latest news updates, follow us on Twitter @FST_Magazine




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 Callum Gildart Design/Deputy Production Editor Lewis Bowes Group Advertisement Manager Kelly Smith Deputy Group Advertisement Manager Julie-Ann Kwok Advertising Sales Adam Bennett Accounts Maureen Scrivener Customer Services 01206 767 797 Contributing writers: Peter Wyllie, Rev George Callander & Robert Adams

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.

All three of GreenAcres Woodland Burials’ parks have been presented with a Green Flag award. GreenAcres’ three burial parks in Chiltern, Buckinghamshire; Colney, Norfolk; and Epping Forest, Essex, have each received the award, which recognises public and community parks and green spaces, on their own merits. Green Flag awards are given out based upon criteria such as how welcoming a park is; whether it is clean and maintained; if it’s safe and secure; its involvement with the community; and sustainability management. Group marketing and sales manager for GreenAcres Nicky Whichelow said: “This is a fantastic achievement for GreenAcres Woodland Burials. Receiving recognition across all three of our woodland burial parks shows that our employees across the business all share the same great work ethos and commitment to making the parks a very special place for people to say goodbye, or to come to reflect and relax.”


The independent voice of the funeral profession

Funeral home sponsors talented athlete Staff from Henry Ison & Sons have raised £1,000 to help fund the full-time training of a talented high jumper. Henry Ison & Sons’ Kenilworth branch, part of the LM collective of funeral homes, invited 1,000 local residents to come into the branch and donate £1 each to help Matt Roberts achieve his goal of becoming a full-time athlete. Area manager of Henry Ison & Sons, Steve Geraty, came up with the ‘1000/1 Campaign’ after meeting Matt’s mother at a local business event and finding out that he was one of a number of athletes to have their funding withdrawn in the run-up to the Olympics. “We are delighted to be able to help such a talented young athlete achieve his dream to represent his country. The staff were all inspired by his story of determination and we were keen to get involved and raise the funds to help pay for his training,” Steve remarked. An open morning was held at Henry Ison & Sons to give residents the opportunity to meet Matt and find out about the work and dedication needed to be a professional athlete. Across the three-week initiative, a total of £750 was raised through public donations, with Henry Ison & Sons contributing the remaining £250 to help Matt achieve his target. “We will continue to follow Matt’s progress as he bids to take his career forward,” Steve continued. “It is exciting to think that we have played a small part in his development and we cannot wait to see him competing on the television and reading about him in the papers.”


Funeral Service

GreenAcres Woodland Burials scores a hat-trick of awards





New scheme helps adults with And briefly a learning disability into work Book up for SAIF’s National

Three adults with a learning disability have been assisted into jobs with a funeral home and a crematorium in Sheffield. The Co-operative Funeralcare partnered with the charity Mencap to help Andrew Rowland, 43, Sally Evans, 19, and Scott Adshead, 20, find permanent part-time roles at the Co-operative Funeralcare on Suffolk Road and at Grenoside Crematorium. Andrew, as funeral service assistant, and Sally, as catering assistant and housekeeper, work at the funeral home, while Scott has become a groundskeeper and chapel assistant at the crematorium. Sector manager for the Co-operative Funeralcare and initiator of the programme Kevin McAlister said: “I got talking to Mencap when they became the Co-operative Group’s charity of the year for 2011 and I wanted to explore how we could help adults with learning disabilities get permanent jobs with us. “It has been a great experience [and] I’m really pleased with how well they are all getting on and fitting in with the teams.” Image: (L-R) Andrew Rowland, Glynn Jones, Scott Adshead, Phil Heseltine and Sally Evans.

Industry worker completes swim for charity Funeral sector worker Andrew Humphrey recently took part in the Great East Swim to raise money for Brain Tumour UK. Andrew, regional development manager with Funeral Planning Services, undertook the 1,500 metre swim at Alton Water Reservoir near Ipswich in aid of Brain Tumour UK – a charity close to Andrew’s heart since losing his father to a brain tumour eight years ago. Much to Andrew’s chagrin, the event was delayed by 24 hours because of high winds: “I was not sure the extra wait would do much for my nerves,” he remarked. Andrew continued: “When I got changed into my wetsuit, I strangely became much calmer. I had been very nervous about this challenge; especially having never swum outdoors or in a wetsuit before. Now though, I was changed, prepared and ready – albeit looking like a podgy seal with a sunburnt head!” Upon approaching the 400-metre mark, Andrew began to doubt whether he could complete the swim. At that point “I was looking up trying to spot the safety kayaks rather than concentrating on the course. I was almost relieved to see another chap make a grab for one of the boats, and felt strangely reassured that I wasn’t the only one finding this tough going.” Spurred on, Andrew fought through the progression-hindering winds to get into a steady rhythm and finish the course in 41 minutes and seven seconds: “It had felt about twice as long as that. To say I was surprised is an understatement.” Despite describing the experience as an “ordeal”, Andrew is planning to take part in a triathlon later in the year. Altogether he raised over £400 for Brain Tumour UK, a total that can be added to via his Justgiving page: Image: Andrew’s son congratulates him upon completing his swim.

Independents’ Day Tickets for the National Independents’ Day event, put on by the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF), are still available. Open to all independent funeral directors in the UK, the event will be held at Ettington Chase in Ettington, near Stratfordupon-Avon, on 29 September. Amongst the topics that will be discussed on the day are tissue and organ donation issues; succession planning; and web design and IT guidance, plus SAIF will launch two new products and Golden Charter will update attendees with its latest figures and achievements. Tickets are priced at £45 per person, which includes lunch and refreshments. BIFD launches new range of qualifications The British Institute of Funeral Directors (BIFD) has announced the launch of a new suite of qualifications. From 8 September students will have the opportunity to work towards gaining the Certificate in Funeral Service or the Diploma in Funeral Service. The BIFD’s Education Committee has worked towards producing what it describes as “the most concise, user-friendly textbook available for students in the profession.” Anyone who feels that they have the ability to deliver the Certificate and Diploma in Funeral Service and become a registered tutor or examiner is invited to attend a tutor’s weekend on 6 October for an interview and assessment with the Education Committee. Further details can be obtained by emailing or visiting Charity defies online retail giant The Natural Death Centre Charity has withdrawn the latest version of its Natural Death Handbook from sale on Amazon, in order to try and raise as much money as possible to fund its work. The charity refused to accept the 40 per cent of RRP rate offered to them for every copy sold on Amazon, choosing instead to sell the updated and revised three-book box set directly to the public from its own website. “We have given ourselves a huge challenge!” said manager Rosie Inman Cook. “Not only do we have to do all of the marketing and promotion of the book ourselves, but we have had to physically carry all 6,000 books down the steps to our headquarters in a former nuclear bunker!” New addition to the Colourful Coffins team Kate Parchment of Colourful Coffins recently welcomed a new addition to the team into the world – her newborn son, Zach. “He is absolutely wonderful, a complete joy and we are all so excited by his arrival. Zach is already sleeping soundly, even if his nap times don’t always coincide with ours!” Kate said. If Zach joins the family business when he grows up, he will be the fourth generation to do so. His great grandfather Don Parchment founded the family’s original business in Oxford – Parchment Printers – which still exists today. Colourful Coffins was then launched by Kate’s mum and Zach’s grandmother, Mary Tomes, in 2004. The company was born out of the idea to find a new challenge after her retirement from the day-to-day activity in the print business.



Second generation FD earns NAFD diploma Daniel Devall, a second generation member of Warwickshire funeral directors D B Devall & Son, has successfully completed a professional qualification. The son of D B Devall & Son founders David and Stephanie Devall, Daniel undertook a 12-month training course to achieve the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) Diploma at the association’s headquarters in Solihull. Remarking on his new qualification, Daniel said: “I’ve always had a keen interest in the family business and, from the age of 13, I would come and assist after school and during the holidays. I took on a full time role when I turned 18 and as part of our commitment to up-skilling our workforce decided to train for the NAFD Diploma. “With all four directors now qualified, it helps to reinforce our position as one of the premier independent providers of funeral services in the local area. I’m proud of D B Devall’s heritage and also of our plans for the future.” Image: (L-R) Daniel Devall, Jason Bambury, Stephanie Devall and David Devall.

Funeral worker’s tea and cake day raises over £1,000 for cancer appeal

Funeral Planning Services director steps down Director of Funeral Planning Services Limited Colin Field has retired after 17 years. Colin, who has also stepped down from his role as managing trustee of Funeral Planning Trust, established both the Trust and Funeral Planning Services in 1995. An early pioneer of pre-paid funeral plans in the UK, Colin was largely responsible for the launch of the ‘Chosen Heritage’ plan by Great Southern Group Plc in the 1980s. Chairman of Funeral Planning Services Nicholas Taylor said: “I would like to record our thanks to Colin for his contribution to the development of Funeral Planning Services and Funeral Planning Trust. He was a valued and enthusiastic chairman of the managing trustees [and] we wish him well.” Colin shall remain chairman of his family funeral business CPJ Field & Company Ltd.

Over £1,000 was raised for Hertfordshire’s Breast Unit Appeal by a funeral arranger who is also a patient. Maria Henry, a principal arranger at the Co-operative Funeralcare on Hertford Road, Enfield, held a tea and cake day to raise £1,100 for the appeal. The event, held at Maria’s home, was attended by more than 80 of Maria’s friends and colleagues and their families. “To raise so much for the appeal is wonderful and I’m so very grateful for the support of my colleagues, my ‘special ladies’ from the Breast Unit and my family and friends,” Maria said. “The staff do an amazing job every day and I felt I had to do something to express my gratitude to them. I hope this helps to raise awareness of their work and supports patients in the future.” Local businesses donated prizes to be raffled off at the event, such as a Kindle, beauty products, a glass bowl, chocolates, champagne and bracelets. The appeal is to buy and maintain state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose breast cancer, including a mammography suite, counselling rooms, a specialist breast cancer team and an information and support area for patients and their families. Images: Maria (in the centre wearing a floral top and white trousers) with some of her friends.

Knox & Son hosts charity cabaret night Knox & Son Ltd recently hosted a cabaret night in aid of its local hospital’s neonatal unit and the Ciaran’s Cause charity. Ciaran’s Cause is a charity that honours a young boy from the local area who tragically passed away from heart complications while playing football on a school field. The charity aims to provide all schools and sports clubs in Warrington with a defibrillator in case of emergencies. Local people, including staff from Knox & Son, provided the evening’s entertainment at the event, which raised £1,700 for the two charities. Grappenhall & Thelwell British Legion gave up a room, free of charge, for the event to be held in, and besides the cabaret, a bingo, raffle, auction, and disco took place. Knox & Son would like to thank the many local businesses that donated raffle prizes, which helped immensely towards the amount raised. Image: (L-R) Funeral operative Neil Aitken; Ciaran’s Grandfather Malcolm; and funeral director Andy Greenwood.



And briefly Qualifications for FDs Funeral directors from Co-operative Funeralcare branches in Barnsley and Westgate have achieved professional qualifications recognising their work with the bereaved. Mark Whitehurst of Thurgoland and Adele Wearing of Morecambe achieved the B-Tec Professional Diploma in Funeral Directing and B-Tec Advanced Diploma in Funeral Arranging and Administration respectively. Mark commented: “I feel very privileged to work in this profession and I’m really pleased to be progressing in my role. I love my job and can’t see myself doing any other kind of work now.” Lord Mayor of Leeds amongst funeral home dedication attendees Cllr Anne Castle, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, was amongst the dignitaries in attendance at a dedication service of the recently opened West Park branch of G H Dovener & Sons in Leeds. The dedication service was carried out by Rev Tom Lusty of St Chad’s Church in far Headingley. The Lord Mayor unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion and was presented with a cheque by Martin Dovener, grandson of G H Dovener, for £500 towards her chosen charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK. Operations manager (Yorkshire) for Funeral Partners Ltd Colin Muhl said: “The day went very well and the weather was kind to us. Everyone who attended said that they had enjoyed it and thought that the service and surroundings were a credit to the company.” CPJ Field & Co acquires new homes CPJ Field & Co has acquired two funeral director branches in Luton and Dunstable. Luton & Dunstable Funeral Service of Luton and Vernon Place of Dunstable had both entered administration in November 2011 and faced uncertain futures prior to CPJ Field & Co obtaining the homes. In its acquisition of the homes, family-owned funeral directors CPJ Field & Co has re-branded them as ‘Shires Funeral Homes’ and safeguarded five jobs and created a further 12. Managing director of CPJ Field & Co, and recently elected president of the London Association of Funeral Directors, Jeremy Field remarked: “As an established, family-owned and managed company with one of the longest associations with the funeral profession in the country, we are confident we have the expertise to successfully reinstate the homes and provide an unrivalled and compassionate service.” Funeral home donates tent to girl guides Warrington girl guides were the recent beneficiaries of a tent donation from Cheshire Funeral Services. Cheshire Funeral Services, part of the Co-operative Funeralcare, donated the tent to the St Ann’s Girl Guides of Orford after they were invited to popular Cheshire-based music festival, fabfest. The group’s existing tent wouldn’t have been durable enough to withstand the event, so funeral arranger Christine Bracken, mother of girl guide Caitlin, approached her manager to see if the home could help. The tent was selected by Guide leader Andrea Colville after thorough research. Unfortunately severe flooding put paid to any use of the tent at fabfest, but it is now ready and waiting for camping events for the foreseeable future.

Charity dinner dance success A recent dinner dance organised by funeral home employees raised £2,200 for charity. Allison Stevens and Kirsty Lawrence from the Co-operative Funeralcare branches in Great Wakering and Hockley, respectively, organised the event at the Rochford Hundred Golf Club to raise money for the Southend Taxi Drivers Fund for Children and Brake UK. Allison said: “We would like to thank everyone who attended, as well as all the companies that donated raffle prizes and items for the auction, along with Rochford Hundred Golf Club, which provided the marquee.” Former West Ham United player Tony Cottee was auctioneer for the evening, with signed West Ham shirts amongst the items that went under the ex-Hammer’s hammer. Image: Allison Stevens and Kirsty Lawrence (second from left and second from right respectively) present a cheque for £1,100 to the Southend Taxi Drivers Fund for Children.

Embalmer clocks up 20 years’ service An embalmer from Gateshead is celebrating 20 years of serving his local community. Fifty-seven-year-old Joe Howe joined the Co-operative Funeralcare in South Shields as a trainee funeral director in 1992. During his spell in South Shields, Joe gained his NAFD Diploma in Funeral Directing before transferring to the Gateshead funeral home. In 1997 he qualified as a member of the British Institute of Embalmers (BIE) and worked as both a funeral director and embalmer until 2006, when he was appointed to his current position of regional embalmer for South Shields, Gateshead and Sunderland. “I enjoy helping families through distressing times in their lives and I have made so many good friends. I hope to be able to stay in my current role until my retirement,” said Joe. Image: The Co-operative Funeralcare’s regional manager Alan Williamson and Joe Howe (left).

Exhibition to feature animal coffins An exhibition by artist Molly Russell entitled ‘Dearly Departed’ opens on 28 September at the Arch402 Gallery in Hoxton, London, and will feature animal coffins produced in collaboration with coffin maker JC Atkinson of Tyne & Wear. Designed for giraffes, turbots, crocodiles, meerkats, anteaters and snakes, Molly’s innovative coffins form the centrepiece of a project that was initially founded upon her extraordinary family upbringing and relationship with her father, the late Ken Russell. Molly spent her childhood surrounded by a myriad of animals being treated on human terms, with mice eating fresh avocado for supper, for example. But having viewed the notorious funeral scene from her father’s film Mahler at just six years of age, she started suffering nightmares that evolved into phobias of death and snakes. Therefore, Molly’s exhibition is a highly personal project that combines macabre humour with emotional and artistic urgency. Dearly Departed will also feature related material in other media, such as animation, photography, and a floral animal tribute.



Three minute interview

FD’s coffee morning raises money for three charities Forty people and five dogs attended a recent funeral home coffee morning to raise money for three charities. After the success of a similar event back in January, Mags Johnson, branch manager at Alan Greenwood & Sons funeral directors in North Cheam, arranged the coffee morning to coincide with her birthday on 25 July. Businesses, such as Tesco, McDonald’s and Starbucks, donated refreshments and cups to the event, which raised £512 to be shared between Wildlife Waystation Animal Sanctuary in Los Angeles; St Raphael’s Hospice; and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – where Mags has volunteered for the past seven years. Attendees were treated to pizza for lunch by neighbours of Alan Greenwood & Sons, Pizza 2 Go.

Dates for your diary... 14 – 16 September

Nigel Rodgers, managing director, Milby Coldrooms Limited

National Association of Memorial Masons’ Dinner Dance Bannatyne Spa Hotel Hastings

26 – 28 October BIFD AGM Harrogate Describe yourself in three words

Honest, reliable, enthusiastic. What is your earliest memory?

My first visit to Hillsborough to watch Sheffield Wednesday as a child. When you were at school, what did you want to be?

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

Provisional deaths in Northern Ireland by month of registration, 2012 Source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency

What was the first music album you bought?

Apr-12 1,281

Human League, Dare.

Sir Winston Churchill. His leadership qualities are to be admired along with his steadfast refusal to consider defeat.

NAFD Past Presidents’ Annual Dinner Ardencote Manor Hotel

An engineer – my bike was always in bits when I was growing up.

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

31 October

1 – 3 October

May-12 1,330

Jun-12 1,110

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

England and Wales




To listen to others more.





What is your next goal in life?





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

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

41,091 2,288 6,167 4,259 3,661 4,565 4,645 4,107 6,718 4,681

34,305 1,979 5,035 3,678 3,131 3,784 3,810 3,455 5,468 3,965





Non-residents of England & Wales




What is the best advice you have been given?

To get the very best out of life. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

Australia, to see what life is really like ‘down under’. What is your favourite quote or saying?

No matter where life takes you, don’t forget where you came from. What is the most important thing that your job has taught you?

That no two days are the same and change is important to business.




Wicker coffin supplier Gadsby has announced that all of its full willow coffins are now supplied with fully detachable, biodegradable, waterresistant liners. The new liners, with their eco-friendly credentials, allow burial or cremation to remain environmentally friendly and remove the need for the insertion of any other form of liner. The Somerset-based business, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2014, has recently welcomed sixth generation family member Will Gadsby to its team. Information: 01278 437 123 (Sallie James), or

A Giving Tribute

A Giving Tribute’s Funeral Tribute Cards are designed to be visually appealing and ‘lift’ the funeral experience. Created by mourners and displayed at the funeral, the tribute cards add what the company describes as ‘the three Cs’ – comfort, colour and celebration. “There is no cost to you or your families, and because we know how busy you are, our new website is very quick and easy to use,” the company adds. Information: 01252 416 185 or

Greenfield Creations Ltd

Greenfield Creations’ art studio manager Jonny tells the story of a recently designed bespoke cardboard coffin: “This cardboard ‘casket style’ coffin was a personal reflection of the life of a well-travelled man. He travelled the world and his family requested that his coffin was to be produced as a casket that looked like a suitcase. They wanted us to incorporate images representing all of his favourite destinations. The design was created from scratch, [with] each strap and buckle selected to get the most accurate representation of his travelling suitcase.” Information:

Auden Funeral Supplies

Auden Funeral Supplies is renowned for producing some of the finest coffin handling equipment products in the market. One of the company’s most popular products over the last five years has been the Coffin Lifter. To cope with a growing demand for larger coffins, Auden has developed the new Coffin Lifter XL. The Coffin Lifter XL features a longer frame; built-in bearer handles; two rollers with mechanical lock; additional rollers; and a heavy duty lifting mechanism. Information: 01924 402 080, or



Homeward bound Louise Hoffman speaks with the teams

responsible for bringing the bodies of loved ones back home to their families in the UK and Ireland, ready to embark on their final journey



s travel has become quicker and easier (and relatively inexpensive, despite the recent price hikes!), it has taken an increasingly central role in all of our lives, whether in terms of last minute getaways; annual summer holidays; honeymoons; gap year travelling; or national and international relocation. Unfortunately, more people venturing away from home means more people dying away from home, and therefore repatriation is frequently called upon. But how else have changing times affected these services? Emerson De Luca, managing director of Albin International Repatriation Limited, says: “We are constantly faced with alterations to procedures and regulations, unpredictable demands and higher customer expectations, and such factors have certainly influenced the way in which a repatriation company, like Albin International, needs to operate.

“There are now tighter restrictions and embargos in place, which certainly make the repatriation process more difficult, but we are always trying to find new ways to accommodate requests” “Some of the changes are positive,” he concedes, “however some make the repatriation process even more challenging. A great example of such a change relates to security. There are now tighter restrictions and embargos in place, which certainly make the repatriation process more difficult, but whilst we need to adhere to the regulations, we are always trying to find new ways to accommodate any requests made by our customers in the best possible way. “Another major change we have noticed is people’s attitude towards repatriation. In a world where technology and the exchange of information is very fast, our customers mistakenly believe that the repatriation of human remains can be dealt with in the same way. It is not uncommon, for instance, for the company to receive requests to use the same passenger ticket to repatriate the deceased! Nevertheless, we have developed new systems which ensure a very effective, professional and timely repatriation service.” Sue Ackerman of Rowland Brothers International agrees that expectations are high when it comes to speed of repatriation, and explains that whilst procedures have hardly changed, some circumstances present

more challenges than others. “Multiple fatalities or identification delays add to family distress, and airline security is also an important issue, with local bureaucracy playing a part. Without the correct papers, flights or funerals may be delayed, so it’s important to follow repatriation protocols, even in areas of civil unrest, where civic offices may not be functioning normally,” she cautions. Conversely, Clive Pearson of Pearson Repatriation Service has noticed little change over the past few years, and has found that paperwork is actually now easier to deal with; “however in some areas the coroner service is taking far longer to carry out post mortems than it used to – in some cases nearly two weeks!” he exclaims. Choosing a service So, if the need to employ a repatriation company arises, how should one go about choosing a suitable partner? “Funeral directors should look for a repatriation service that they can trust; that knows what is required; that is professional; and can carry out the arrangements needed by the funeral director and the family it has been called upon to serve,” says Sharon Sturrock of Byram UK Repatriation. “Experience, trust and reliability are key factors,” adds Emerson De Luca. “Knowing, for instance, that your partner has an excellent relationship with overseas agents and truly knows them is crucial. This is the reason that Albin International has visited most of the major agents around the world to check the quality of their work and facilities.” In addition to some of the attributes already mentioned, Clive Pearson adds “a good knowledge of the industry” to the list – an aspect that Sue Ackerman expands upon: “We believe there is no substitute for the professional experience and values shared between funeral directors. Working together, we can anticipate family expectations, and the questions that arise after a tragedy away from home. Regular contact with embassies and high commissions, airlines, insurance and assistance companies means familiarity with a broad range of international protocols, reassuring mourners about unfamiliar procedures.” Capabilities As mentioned by Sharon Sturrock above, the most obvious place to start when deciding which repatriation company to use is with the specific service offerings; and each one of the representatives I spoke to became hugely enthusiastic when discussing his or her company’s capabilities. “At Byram’s we offer a full UK repatriation service covering the whole of the UK and Ireland,” says Sharon. “We can organise all documentation needed for repatriation, and

ferry and airport transfers; as well as liaising with coroners, hospitals etc. Basically we will do as much or as little as is required by the funeral director!” The company’s premises boast a modern, fully-equipped embalming theatre, from which it is able to offer an embalming service undertaken by fully qualified embalmers, who are members of the British Institute of Embalmers (BIE). “At Byram’s we feel that funeral directors need to have confidence in the firm they use for repatriation, and as we are also funeral directors we understand the care needed to look after someone’s loved one and how important it is to families to know they can trust their funeral director,” she adds. Pearson Repatriation Service is a familyrun company set in the heart of rural Yorkshire, which has 10 years of experience in the repatriation business and over 90 years in the funeral business. Located close to the major motorway networks, the company is able to reach all parts of the UK with ease. “All repatriation services are catered for, whether it be transporting from one part of the UK to another; someone dying abroad and coming back home; or someone dying in the UK and needing to go abroad,” says Clive Pearson, owner of the company, who is also a qualified funeral director, embalmer and embalming tutor. “From the moment the first call is taken, we will take care of everything needed for the repatriation to take place.” Cremated Remains Transport Services is a division of Advance Sales Services UK Limited, a commercial freight agency established in 1998 which has connections with all of the major air and shipping lines, and acts as agent to a number of the major UK and worldwide courier companies. “The company came into being [when] my neighbour, who was the funeral director for Reynolds Funeral Service in Bognor Regis, and for whom we often shipped cremated remains around the UK, one day asked us to ship to Germany, which we duly did,” explains managing director John Kersley. “It dawned on me three years ago that if Reynolds shipped about six times a year, how many funeral directors in the UK had the same need? “We now receive numerous enquiries every day, and have found that, with our guidance, the whole process with the relevant documentation can be relatively simple, and we can arrange for transport throughout the world.” Russell A French can carry out long distance work nationwide, and for local Midlands funeral directors. “I am willing to carry out local removals when funeral directors’ staff members are otherwise committed, and this can often be at short notice. I can also carry out removals from a




private address; but in these cases I always recommend that I am assisted by a member of staff to represent the funeral director concerned,” explains Russell, who has been working in the funeral profession for 26 years.

“Funeral directors should look for a repatriation service that they can trust; that is professional; and can carry out the arrangements needed by the funeral director and the family it has been called upon to serve” “In response to changing weather patterns and the fact that people are getting heavier, I have invested in new equipment. I run a Volkswagen vehicle with a four wheel drive facility and a Garmin navigation facility, which is very useful. I have two stretchers, one of which can take a deceased person up to 47 stone, and I also carry a flexi stretcher, which can enable me to help with a removal from a private address, should a funeral director request one,” he adds.

Sue Ackerman says of Rowland Brothers International’s service: “Our aim is to offer a flexible range of cost-contained services to complement those offered by funeral directors to their community. For inbound repatriation to the UK, we offer a complete service working with our overseas partners from start to finish, including collection from the airport and delivery into the local funeral director’s care. For outbound repatriation, we also offer a complete arrangement, or any element that the funeral director needs – flight booking; essential documentation; embalming appropriate to the destination; a suitable coffin; and a driver to the airport. “Bi-lingual liaison in nine languages is a standard part of our service. Our team brings international solutions to your doorstep, co-ordinating a seamless transfer from the point of origin to the final destination. From one side of the world to the other, or within the UK, our team of co-ordinators and drivers are ready to respond for coffin or urn repatriation, and increasingly to arrange overseas funerals or exhumations.”

Finally, Emerson De Luca explains: “Albin International offers a full range of repatriation services from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world. The main services and facilities we are able to provide are: deployment staff on call 24/7; immediate family support; translation services; customs clearance; conveyance of the deceased; a global network of quality assured and inspected agents; multi-lingual staff; a modern, state-of-the-art mortuary facility (long-term storage facility); conveyance to consulates and registrars if required; an excellent working relationship with consulates and embassies; a flight booking service; an exhumation service; a portable mortuary; DNA testing; and cryonics, amongst others. “Albin International also has the honour of being appointed as the provider of repatriation services for the Ministry of Defence, with F A Albin and Sons (the company’s parent) having received the inaugural Chief of the Defence Staff’s Commendation for its support of the armed forces community,” he concludes, proudly.

Information Albin International Repatriation Limited: 0207 313 6920 or Byram UK Repatriation: 01282 870 898 Cremated Remains Transport Services: 01243 583 913 or Pearson Repatriation Service: 01484 844 289 Rowland Brothers International: 0208 684 2324 or Russell A French: 01905 339 458 or


Creative ceremonies

Participators or spectators?

In the first of a new series of articles looking at ideas for funeral services, celebrant Peter Wyllie focuses on family involvement in the ceremony


rom my earliest days of attending funerals I was always struck by the way in which the family were, in many cases, simply spectators at the event. Therefore when I became a funeral celebrant in early 2009, I began to look for ways to involve the families in the whole process of creating and personalising the funeral celebration. Not all families want to be participators; some feel that they would not be able to take part on the day, and that is natural. But others welcome the opportunity to be part of the service, even in a simple way; seeing it as the final gift that they can give to their loved one as part of the celebration of his or her life. I will always discuss the possibilities with each family, and there are two good answers to each suggestion: yes or no. So, how might families get involved in the ceremony? Here are a few ideas… Walking with the hearse Leaving the home with the family walking to the end of the street is the very first opportunity for participation and a public demonstration of respect. Pall bearing I recently conducted a service for a lady of 55 and it was moving to see her husband, son, brothers and sister carrying the coffin into the chapel. With tears in their eyes, but with great dignity, they carried this much loved lady and placed her on the catafalque. Her husband told me later: “This was hard to do, but very comforting to feel that it was the last thing I would be able to do for my beloved wife.” Lighting candles of remembrance Candles are often lit in remembrance during family gatherings and on special occasions. I suggest that the family purchase a lovely candle especially for this purpose, and that it is alight throughout the service. Four tea lights, in holders, are then placed in front of the candle, and during the service I invite members of the family to come and light one each. When the service is for an individual whose partner has already passed away, we will often use a candle with two wicks to symbolise both of their lives. Sometimes we have a backdrop of music and either I or a member of the family speaks the words: • “We light this first candle to acknowledge the grief that we feel today because our hearts are broken and our eyes are filled with tears.” • “We light this second candle for the courage that

we need. The courage to confront our grief; courage to support each other; courage to live our lives in the light of your memory.” • “This third candle represents the love that bound us together. We remember the times we laughed together; the times we cried together; and even the times when we argued and said silly things to each other, but love always held us tightly together.” • “We light this fourth candle as we remember the light of your life. Your life gave us life and as long as we live we will love you and remember you.” Circle of love and protection As an alternative to this, I sometimes use a circle of 12 tea lights surrounding a single candle. The candle represents the widow/widower left behind and members of the family and friends come to light the tea lights to symbolically surround them with their love and protection now that they are on their own. Private farewell For many, the closing of the curtains at committal is the hardest part of the service. I will invite the family to come up during the playing of the reflection music and place a flower or a symbolic item on the coffin and just stand together for a minute to say their private farewells before the committal. Recently at the funeral of a father, the daughters brought up his ubiquitous flat cap, his car keys (he had loved his cars) and his reading spectacles (as they said, it will be the first time ever that he knew where they were!). It was very personal and appropriate as they stood together with their arms around each other. Mementos Giving little gifts and mementos to the guests as they leave the chapel is a beautiful way to send each person away with a special memory. At services I have conducted these have included packets of flower seeds (Forget-me-not), little bags of favourite sweets, a small candle or a card with a special verse. The soul takes flight Once outside, the family can release doves or simply send a helium-filled balloon on its way to symbolise the flight of the soul. As Plato wrote: The soul takes flight to a world that is eternal, invisible; but, there arriving she is sure of bliss and forever dwells in paradise.

Do you have other ways of involving your families in funeral services, which you would like to share with readers? Please send an email to, or write to the address shown on page 6. Peter Wyllie is an independent funeral celebrant and president of the AOIC. For more information please visit or

Funeral Stationery

Tributes in print

Fulfilling practical, aesthetic and memorialisation purposes, funeral stationery is a key element of any funeral service. Callum Gildart takes a look at a selection of available designs and services


eing able to recommend quality funeral stationery options is certainly advantageous when assisting clients with funeral plans, and nowadays it is easier than ever to create bespoke stationery – such as condolence books, orders of service and thank you cards – as a tribute to the deceased, thanks to technological advances; an understanding of the popularity of personalisation; and rapid delivery times. If you’re looking for creative inspiration, or for a new stationery provider, here is a selection you may like to consider…

ACS is strengthening its market position by continually adding to its range of available products. The company stocks a wide range of ‘In memory’ and condolence books in a variety of materials and colours, such as simple mini condolence books in contemporary finishes; illustrated full colour memory books with poetry and verses; and large, traditional, velvet condolence books with colour co-ordinated presentation boxes. Presentation and flower card envelopes; document folders; jewellery pouches; ring boxes; and oak display units are also available from ACS’s stock range. Almost everything can be personalised to promote a business in a personal and professional way. Information: 01977 641 358, or

Careprint has been supplying condolence stationery to the trade and public since 1990. The company offers a traditional product range, which includes orders of service, bookmarks and tribute cards. In addition, Careprint offers memorial books, memory boxes, memory folders, CD/DVD cases, large canvas or framed prints, memory calendars, candles, coasters, placemats, mousemats, mugs, and jigsaws! All of Careprint’s products are designed and manufactured in-house by an experienced team. Information: 01483 205 762, or

Esposti offers a range of condolence books that are crafted using high grade papers and cover materials. Sympathetically designed, all books are presented in a keepsake box to ensure that the sentiments within remain safe. Initial orders can be supplied in small quantities so that Esposti’s range can be sampled. Books can also be manufactured to bespoke designs or adapted to contain company names and logos. Information: 0208 216 1980, or



Funeral Stationery

Eternity Cards is a leading manufacturer in the design and printing of high quality in-memoriam stationery. Due to continued expansion, the company is on the lookout for agents to promote its range of custom-made memorial cards. Its in-memoriam stationery can be viewed on the website, and a free information pack can be requested via a phone call. Information: 028 9024 0052 or

In Memoriam: Poems of Bereavement by Candlestick Press offers funeral directors and their clients a selection of 30 poems, introduced by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Editor Jenny Swann explains: “Many extraordinary and important poems have been written about death and bereavement. The poems in the pamphlet are a mix of traditional and contemporary, familiar and new. [The poems] are designed to reach the widest possible audience, in both religious and secular services. Poetry can speak for us all [and] put its arms around us.” Information: 07500 180 871, (ref FST) or

Established in 1977, Finepoint Graphics provides a wide range of personalised stationery products for funerals, such as orders of service; announcement, memorial, acknowledgement and pew cards; bookmarks; condolence books; keyrings; and paperweights. The family business says it takes pride in its level of service, reliability and the quality of its products. All of the printing can incorporate a business’s name and, subsequently, act as an advert. Information: 0208 444 9721, or

Love in Print offers an extensive range of funeral stationery, comprised of hundreds of creative and traditional designs. The company’s easy-to-use website enables each customer to create a unique tribute to his or her loved one in a variety of ways, such as orders of service, thank you cards and bookmarks. Love in Print offers free next day delivery on all orders. Information: 0844 800 1788, or


Funeral Stationery

Wildflower Memorial Tokens, available from Shaw & Sons Limited, are stationery gifts to offer bereaved families that are useful for including with company literature or for distributing to the congregation after a funeral service. The tokens’ detachable adornments – in the shape of hearts or butterflies – can be planted to grow and blossom into wildflowers to create a perpetual tribute to a loved one. The adornments are crafted using 100 per cent recycled cotton fibre, fresh flowers and 12 varieties of perennial wildflower seeds. Memorial tokens are printed as standard with the words ‘In Memory’, while cards can be customised with company details, personal messages or logos. Information: 01322 621 100, or

Intended to be signed by attendees at the funeral, Hilton Studio’s condolence books are hand bound in burgundy faux suede, and gold blocked on the cover. They are supplied either as a sewn binding or as a loose-leaf brass binder. A dedication is inscribed by hand on the title page. Loose-leaf binders are available with 42 plain pages, along with an option of up to six plastic sleeves that each hold up to six flower cards. The bound books are available with printed pages featuring decorative dedication boxes. They can accommodate 224, 512 or 1,024 entries. Information: 01543 372 326 or

Fitting Farewell has been designing and printing funeral stationery since 2009, to create personalised keepsakes of a loved one for family and friends. The company can include family photographs and personal memories, in a range of designs including floral, hobbies, simple typographic, and bespoke creations. Fitting Farewell prints in full colour on high quality 350gsm card stock and can deliver anywhere in the UK in three working days. Information: 0800 612 6484 (Alison Lowe), or

The Flower Card Company has recently added the ‘Life Celebration’ card range to its already extensive collection of products, including large and small funeral cards. The company, which has been running for over 10 years, creates its card collection using artwork that is designed and painted in-house by artist Caroline Crawford and printed in the UK. Caroline explains her designs: “I wanted to create a beautiful range of quality cards to add the finishing touch to a floral tribute [because I] understand how important detail is to funeral directors.” New designs are always being worked on and, with feedback being important to the company, are often created as a direct response to customer comments. Information: 0118 954 0813 or offers a bespoke and personal service for all printed stationery needs. The company proudly offers a significant discount to funeral directors as a gesture to relieve some of the pressure when arranging a funeral. From orders of service through to posters, condolence books, photographic memorial booklets and more, says that it puts printed material together reverently and quickly, using its design expertise. There is a three-day turnaround for all orders (or quicker if required). Information: 01283 564 192 or



The end of a chapter Rev George Callander writes in tribute to

Winnie Johnson, who spent more than half of her life fighting tirelessly to locate her son Keith Bennett, a victim of the moors murderers


t was with great sadness, listening to the news whilst driving home from a visit to my family in Scotland, that I learned of the death of Mrs Winnie Johnson – mother of Keith Bennett, the only victim of the infamous moors murders whose body has never been found. Mrs Johnson and her family have endured approaching 50 years of uncertainty and heartache about the fate of 12-year-old Keith, who vanished in 1964. Mrs Johnson tirelessly sought to find the location of Keith’s body so that it might be given, in her words, “a decent Christian burial”. This was the driving force in her life and, when she discovered she was terminally ill, it was her one wish to bury Keith’s body before she, too, died. Sadly, this was not to be. Mrs Johnson lived with the unresolved grief following Keith’s death for more than half of her life. For this reason, many of today’s newspaper headlines have referred to Winnie Johnson as the last victim of the moors murderers. For some bereaved parents, their grief is never adequately addressed and therefore never fully resolved. I have experienced this many times in older or elderly parents whose child was either stillborn or died soon after birth in an era when contact with their dead baby was not encouraged. Nor was it possible to give their baby a formal funeral. Such parents have on many occasions told me they felt their children had been “swept aside” as though they had never existed, and that they were told either explicitly or by implication that they should just “get on with life”. Fortunately the care of bereaved parents has in most cases become second to none, and today they receive outstanding support. Think, then, of Mrs Johnson, who for many years did not know the fate of her son. She must surely have experienced many days and nights of ‘what if?’ and ‘if only’. Over the months and years her hopes of being reunited with her missing son would have faded into the hope that Keith’s remains would be found, enabling all the family to grieve publicly for this much-loved son and brother. In more recent times, false hopes have been raised that Keith’s killer had revealed the location of the body. Alas, he never did so; at least not during Mrs Johnson’s lifetime. At the time of writing this article speculation is rife that the killer has passed on a letter revealing the precious information Mrs Johnson sought and deserved to be given.

Only time and legal process will tell whether or not he has done so. The sad news of Mrs Johnson’s death has marked the end of another chapter in this appalling tragedy. However, the fight to find Keith’s remains goes on. Keith’s brother Alan Bennett and many relatives and friends have vowed to keep going. I have discussed before the complexity of parental and sibling grief. This is magnified when a child has been murdered. In addition to comprehending that one’s child has died, there are the added factors of violence, suddenness and intent. It is a parent’s instinct to protect and nurture his or her offspring: to do everything possible to steer them through childhood towards independence. Any parent who has lost a child feels (at least on some level) they should have done more to prevent the tragedy happening. If the child has been deliberately removed from his or her family unit, the nurturing and protective instinct of the parents must surely be fractured as they struggle with the enormity of what has happened. It is not only the murdered child who has died; in some way part of the parents and part of the wider family dies too.

[Keith and Winnie] are reunited already in the hearts and minds of those who love them, and also in those of all of us at home and abroad touched by [this] tragic story I am sure keeping the search for Keith’s body going for almost 50 years has given Mrs Johnson and the family great strength, and kept him as an active presence in their lives. Hopefully one day they will be reunited with his remains and can lay them gently to rest with those of his mum, Winnie. However, they are reunited already in the hearts and minds of those who love them, and also in those of all of us at home and abroad touched by Keith and Winnie’s tragic story: the story of a parent’s enduring love for her child. May Keith Bennett and Winnie Johnson rest in peace.

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 or for more information.

Over To you


raed Lan (Welsh for ‘Feet Up’) will be broadcast in November and is a series of three 30-minute programmes looking behind the scenes with some of Wales’s funeral directors. SAIF was delighted when founding member Gwilym Price asked that the organisation be included in the film. It was a conscious decision made very early on during research and developing the series, that the funeral directors should all be independents; and Gwilym, being such an ardent supporter of SAIF, convinced the producers that it would therefore be a perfect opportunity to include a précis of SAIF’s history. Gareth A Jenkins of Baglan Funeral Home, with his forward thinking, ‘can do’ attitude and impeccable attention to detail, coupled with his wicked sense of humour that sensitively shines through when it is most needed, was first on the list of main contributors. Second to gain the producers’ interest was Dorian Harries Mortuary Services (a specialist in the art of embalming and facial reconstruction). Dorian is at the forefront of his profession with his vast knowledge, experience and his advanced level of training, having honed these skills over the last 20 years. Rhys Price, grandson of Gwilym Price and son of Cerdin, was the final main contributor to be approached. Rhys, having just left school and being the third generation to work in the family-run funeral directors based in Lampeter, Wales, has high ambitions for this traditional undertakers business, founded by Gwilym. Following weeks of filming with the Price family and months of filming throughout Wales, it was time for the final ‘frame’ and the meeting of SAIF founders. This was the hardest part; negotiations with the founders and trying to get them all in one place at the same time was no easy task, and sadly Jeremy West (founding president) was unable to attend due to his son Jamie’s imminent wedding. However, on a glorious sunny day in July the remaining founders all met at T Cribb & Son, Beckton, London. Prior to meeting at Beckton, Gwilym, his son Cerdin and grandson Rhys met Clive Leverton of Leverton & Sons Funeral Directors in London. The film crew were prepared for a long few days, and after an overnight stay in London travelled to T Cribb & Son for the remainder of the filming. This truly was a family affair as Sarah, daughter of T Cribb senior partner John Harris, joined the group for lunch and then took the opportunity to show Rhys around the fabulous premises. In his mission to learn more about his beloved trade, Rhys will soon embark on a work placement with both Clive Leverton and John Harris.

Behind the scenes SAIF shares the story of its exciting involvement in

a soon-to-be-aired television series, looking at the skilled and exuberant characters who are part of the Welsh funeral profession Geraint Jones from GRJ Media Ltd said: “Our hope with the series is to open the doors to this mysterious business and reveal the unseen people within; these characters that very few people know anything about until they are met by the sad situation of bereavement. “These are the kind, thoughtful people who take care of families at the very darkest times in their lives. We believe that the public should meet them and get to know them away from the grieving process. They are all exceptional people in their own right and our aim is to show this and reflect their lighter side. To break down barriers and to dispel myths is also underlying throughout the production.” Geraint, his wife Janette and the team have become very passionate about this production and went on to explain the catalyst for the initial concept: “It was through the friendship with our children’s primary school teacher and an undertaker’s daughter, who works part time in her family business. “Then after our first meeting with welsh-speaking Gareth Jenkins and his wife Christine we knew it was a programme that had to be made. Coincidentally, at the same time and unbeknown to me, Amanda Harries of HAY Productions was thinking of exactly the same idea after her recent experience using the services of Gwilym Price Son & Daughters. We joined forces after discussing our ideas and the Traed Lan concept was born!” Such is the fascination with the featured characters and subject matter that the team is already in the process of discussing a further series of Traed Lan, and it is hoped this will also be aired in England.

Image: Clive and Rhys



Trike hearses

From dream to reality Determined to bring a new type of funeral vehicle to the funeral directors of Ireland, Robert Adams’ dream is about to come to fruition. Here he describes the production process behind his brand new, bespoke trike hearse

The dream was to build a trike hearse unit for the funeral service of Ireland; created not just for motorcyclists, but to appeal to everyone as a unique way to say goodbye. The reality was that we had a lot of trouble finding a coachbuilder to build a hearse trailer, until we discovered John Pierce of Pierce Coachbuilders, Killarney, Southern Ireland, that is. After a few phone calls discussing ideas, John put together a bit of a framework, and the journey began… Our dream started out as a few bits of steel tacked together to give some idea of how it would look. At this point we discussed the overall finished shape, and the size of coffin it would carry (seven foot) etc.

Six weeks later, the shape and size is there for all to see. At this point we decided to fit a battery powered mover, so that if we ever got into a tight spot the hearse could move itself – no need for an undignified push by hand. Also, if there is a large, heavy coffin, or a long carry to the graveside, the hearse only needs a five-foot path to travel up to the grave.

Trike hearses

With a primer paint coat added, any small dents or imperfections in the bodywork became visible, and could be fixed so that they are never seen in the finished hearse.

The hearse now has its finished coat of paint and returns to the workshop to be fitted out with deck, rollers, head cloth, lights, electrics and so on. The next problem was the glass for the bowed front doors – not only did they have to fit just right, but they also had to be water tight. John found a glass company that made the curved glass out of bulletproof material. Then there were the outside front corner lights; we could not find a coach light that was in proportion to the hearse and so John went back into the workshop and machined the lights that are on the finished hearse.

The finished hearse is now a reality for all to see, looking as if it was built for a state funeral! It is a hearse that not only breaks tradition, but also offers the last mile in style, both for bikers and for those seeking unusual and unique funeral transportation. The hearse can also be hitched onto a 4x4 vehicle to offer a 4x4 funeral service. The trike (due in September) was also very hard to get right, as so many trikes give the image of Hells Angels and macho bikers, which we did not want. Instead we were looking to break the stigma that trike funerals are solely for bikers. With the help of Mark, owner of Grinnall Cars, a manufacturer of trikes and specialist sports cars, we are building a Triumph Rocket III trike to complement the hearse. The trike has been designed so that the rider does not look out of place wearing a suit whilst riding it (weather permitting!).

For more information please contact Cathie on 07704 513 875 or 028 4483 1898.




A journey of discovery Jeane Trend-Hill widens her cemetery exploration,

visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and San Michele Cemetery Island in Venice


don’t just photograph the cemeteries of London; I visit European ones too. In fact, Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is one of my favourites – it’s the largest in Paris and one of the most famous in the world, attracting thousands of visitors annually; and it’s also the site of five Great War memorials. The cemetery takes its name from Père François de la Chaise, confessor to Louis XIV, who lived in the Jesuit house rebuilt in 1682 on the site of the chapel. In 1804, it was bought by the city, with the cemetery then being established by Napoleon and laid out by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart. Cemeteries were banned inside Paris in 1786, following the closure of the Cimetière des Innocents, on the grounds that they presented a health hazard. When it was first opened, Père Lachaise was considered to be too far away from the city, and consequently attracted very few funerals. However, records show that the number of people interred at the cemetery went from a few dozen to more than 33,000 in just a few years. Today there are over one million bodies buried there, and many more in the columbarium, which holds the remains of those who requested cremation and has some of the most beautiful shrouded figure monuments I have ever seen. Isola di San Michele (pictured above), a former prison island, is now Venice’s cemetery and another of my favourites. It became a lagoon cemetery in the early 1800s when Napoleon’s occupying forces told the Venetians to ferry their dead across the water instead

of burying them in the town. Originally consisting of two separate islands, San Michele and San Cristoforo have now been joined together. The cemetery is still in use today, however due to shortage of space, and as is the custom in many European countries, after 12 years the dead are exhumed and stored in ossuary boxes in another part of the cemetery. Grave symbolism in cemeteries I am often asked about the symbols on graves, having studied them and their meanings. Here are the results of my research on some of the common ones: Anchor: Hope or at rest; an early Christian symbol. Angel: The agent of God, often pointing heavenwards, also guardian of the dead. An angel holding up two fingers denotes a member of the clergy buried beneath. Bed: A deathbed sometimes only illustrated by a pillow. Book: Symbolises faith. Chair: Commonly known as a vacant chair left by the deceased. Usually a young woman. Column: A broken column signifies mortality; the support of life being broken. Most commonly used for a male and the death of the head of a family. Crown: Sovereignty of the Lord. Dove: The Holy Spirit or peace. Feather: Wings, and the assent to Heaven. Gates: The entrance into Heaven. Hands: When clasped, this is a symbol of farewell.


Image: Père Lachaise

Heart: The symbol for deepest heartfelt emotions. Horse: Strength, courage, or the swiftness of the passage of time. Hourglass: The traditional symbol of Father Time, who also carries a scythe. Lamb: Usually found on the grave of a child, Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. Lamp: Immortality; knowledge of God. Laurel: Fame. Often of a literary or artistic figure. Lion: Courage, strength and the resurrection. Obelisk: Eternal life from the Egyptian sunworshipping symbol. Phoenix: Christ’s resurrection. Rocks: The church, or Christian steadfastness. Rose: Associated with the Virgin Mary or paradise. Scythe: Passage of time and death. Ship: The Christian church symbolically carrying the faithful through the world. Skull: Mortality. Snake: With its tail in its mouth, symbolises eternity. Star: The symbol of divine guidance. Torch: Immortality; upturned means a life extinguished. Urn: Draped and empty symbolises death. Wheat: Fruitfulness harvested. Willow: Grief and mourning. Yew: On account of its dark colour, and its association with churchyards.

Image: Père Lachaise

Jeane Trend-Hill is an author, photographer and artist who spends much of her time photographing cemetery monuments, researching some of their more obscure occupants and writing about places of eternal rest. She advises on grave symbolism and is involved with monument restoration and preservation to help future generations enjoy an important part of our history and heritage. Jeane has published a series of books, Silent Cities, about cemetery monuments, as well as The Lost Language of Cemeteries about grave symbolism. For further information please visit




Growing popularity

James Meynell, managing director of FTP Ecocoffins Ltd, tells Louise Hoffman about his company’s latest coffin, and his thoughts on the growth of eco and natural burial Has awareness and the popularity of eco burial been gathering pace over the past year? Awareness of environmentally friendly coffins has continued to gather pace over the past year. In fact, I would now hazard a guess that the great majority of people in the UK have heard of ‘eco coffins’. On many occasions in the past year, when I have explained to someone I have just met what our company does, they have said that they have recently been to a funeral which used a woven coffin. One of the results of this increased popularity is the need for our company to increase its stock levels and range of sizes. This has meant that FTP Ecocoffins Ltd now has three storage facilities – two in Shropshire and one in Worcestershire. On the roof of one of these storehouses we have installed solar PV panels. I must admit that it was not only our wish to help the environment in a small way, but also the thought of receiving feed-in tariffs for 25 years which swayed our decision! What are the questions that are most frequently asked of you by members of the public (no doubt sometimes via the funeral director), in relation to your coffins or to eco burial in general? The main question we are asked (and this really applies to our funeral director customers, as we deal with them rather than directly with the public) is whether we can supply what the clients wish to have in time. Fortunately our good stock levels ensure that delivery is next-day or the following day at the latest, which takes the pressure off the funeral director. We do sometimes have to put a coffin in one of our vehicles and deliver the same day if needs be. Basically we’ll do whatever we can to keep the customer happy.

How do you seek to make information readily available, and to promote your services and, indeed, the wider concept of funeral choice? The main way we keep our products in front of our funeral director customers is through mailings of our comprehensive brochure, and through advertising in publications such as the Funeral Service Times. We have a website of course, (without prices on it), which helps both the client families and funeral directors to come to a decision, particularly if they do not have one of our brochures to hand. We also support our local newspapers when they decide to feature a bereavement section in their publications, and we recently contributed to a bereavement guide that is being published on behalf of Worcestershire County Council. On a slightly more unusual note, we also supplied two of our largest (6’10”) Willow coffins to a local horse eventing course to make one of the cross country jumps (called the coffin jump, naturally!). There were a few fallers at the jump but St John’s Ambulance wasn’t needed I’m glad to say! How have you developed your product range and service during the past 12 months or so? FTP Ecocoffins Ltd’s latest development in its product range is the Abaca coffin, which is a gentle cinnamon in colour with attractive cane trimmings (pictured). These coffins are beautifully woven by artisans in the province of Rizal in the Philippines, which provides much-needed employment to the impoverished rural community as part of an ongoing social welfare programme. I do believe, though, that the average funeral director can cope with only so many different types of coffin, so at the moment we are in no great hurry to continue our expansion of our range of woven coffins, preferring instead to provide a first class service with what we can offer at this present time. Indeed, we believe we have a fine choice of woven coffins available now, ranging from our everpopular Willow and Light Willow models, to our Seagrass, Bamboo and Water Hyacinth varieties, and on to our latest Abaca coffin, as mentioned above. Do you have any plans in the pipeline for the end of 2012 and beyond? In terms of future plans, I would love FTP Ecocoffins to become involved in founding a natural burial ground somewhere in the beautiful countryside surrounding Tenbury Wells. I firmly believe that more and more burials will happen in natural burial grounds, many of which are in lovely settings with scenic views across glorious British countryside. However the one factor that will slow the growth of new natural burial grounds is the ever-increasing price of land.



Classic campers Louise Hoffman finds out more about the unique offering of Volkswagen Funerals, from company proprietor Clare Brookes Firstly, tell us all about your extraordinary VW hearses! Our white Volkswagen hearse (known as ‘Hearseby’) is an extremely rare vehicle indeed. It was a body removal vehicle that was used in the 70s and early 80s in Belgium and had belonged to two funeral companies, but it had since been in a private collection for over 20 years. We were able to strike a deal with its owner when we told him that we were going to put it back into service. When we got it, it was black as you would expect, with frosted glass and a cross and sloping palms motif on the sides. The interior was very basic with wooden chocks to stop the stretcher or coffin from sliding around. Mechanically it was amazing, but we gave it a good service and re-commissioned the brakes etc. We stripped it, painted it, added clear glass and put a window in the tail gate; then upholstered and fitted the coffin deck. We are now building our second hearse, to be known as ‘Ernie’, which is a 1965 split screen passenger bus conversion designed to give more choice to the family. This hearse is in silver coachwork with lots of chrome and all the usual funeral fittings. It will be revealed very soon! Do you have a personal interest in Volkswagens? Or was there another reason that led you to establish VW Funerals? I have always had a love of Volkswagens from as far back as I can remember. The first word I spoke was ‘car’ and at the time I was pointing at an orange Beetle, according to my parents. My partner and I ran a wedding car company, which we started in 2004 after I had a hairbrained idea that if I was to get married the only car I’d want to go to the ceremony in would be a classic Volkswagen. This business took off and before we knew it we were running a fleet of 14 wedding cars. I had always planned to include a funeral service because I thought, just as I did with the weddings, there would only be one vehicle that I would want to go off in, and it would have to be a Volkswagen. Having family in the funeral trade I knew what would be required for this service and the vehicle would need to be something special in order to gain the confidence of the funeral professionals that would hopefully hire it. So we set about looking for an original Volkswagen hearse, which was a very tall order since only a small number were ever built, and of those only a couple have survived. I believe if something is meant to be it will be, and sure enough after a two-year search, we found one.

Who does your service appeal to? Our service appeals to anyone – any age, and male or female. We have catered for elderly people who used to go on their holidays in a Volkswagen; enthusiasts of the marque; those who went or wanted to go travelling in one; and those who like the festival/music scene. It also appeals to those who would prefer not to have a sombre affair. Can you offer any additions to your service, in order to make the funeral as personalised as possible? We pride ourselves on the quality of the vehicles we supply, but to put the icing on the cake we offer families and friends the chance to make them their own by personalising them. We have a selection of coloured flags for the hearses and we regularly add a bit of colour by attaching a ribbon to the front. The roof rack can carry flowers, but for those who want to take something up top to represent hobbies or interests we will also do this for them. Apart from the obvious surfboards we have carried bikes, wellies, a five-foot wingspan radio control spitfire, musical instruments, gardening tools, fishing rods, and more recently a four-foot canvas in a metal frame made by the deceased’s work colleagues. It was a picture of him with his greatest ever fishing catch, which he was so proud of – brilliant! Finally, what are your thoughts on the increasing diversity of funeral options? Does it give you a sense of pride to be contributing to this choice? I am of course very proud of our achievements – we have worked very hard to earn our place and our trust in the funeral industry – and I think that the changes to the funeral sector are coming along thick and fast and it’s all the better for it. With the internet, people have access to much more information than they did when arranging a funeral meant that you picked up the yellow pages and called a local undertaker. People expect more these days and I think they are more inclined to shop around before making the decision to go to a particular funeral company. My feelings on this are that if it’s legal and physically possible, let’s do everything we can for them!

charity spotlight

Image: Jon Osborne


Protecting children The NSPCC explains how volunteers are the driving force behind the ChildLine Schools Service, and how funeral directors can get involved to make a lasting difference to children


ith the success of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the festivities of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the UK has been revelling in the perfect summer of celebration. Across the country, communities have defied the weather to come together to partake in street parties and host events with friends and neighbours alike. For the NSPCC, this air of goodwill and desire to pitch in and lend a supporting hand will help to drive the success of the newly established ChildLine Schools Service. Started in January 2011, the ChildLine Schools Service looks to build on the achievement of the flagship service ChildLine, which for over 25 years has provided free 24-hour help, support and advice to young people in distress or danger. It has been a trusted friend. Through the ChildLine Schools Service the NSPCC will aim to go one step further, educating children about what cruelty, abuse and neglect are. The service aims to visit every primary school in the UK once every two years, in order to ensure every child aged between nine and 11 has an understanding and recognition of how to protect him or herself from abuse, cruelty or neglect, and

where to go for help if required. What makes this service so unique, in addition to the fact that we’ll be speaking to 780,000 children in 13,000 schools each year, is that local volunteers will be at the heart of its delivery, with the NSPCC looking to recruit in excess of 4,000 volunteers to work alongside NSPCC staff – an opportunity open to funeral directors and their clients. Many of our supporters who have experienced bereavement have often been inspired to do something positive in memory of somebody special to them, either through a donation or by organising or taking part in an event. The opportunity to volunteer and be part of the ChildLine Schools Service offers our in memoriam supporters, whether it be funeral directors or individuals, the chance to be involved in something special and unique. Lee Mitchell, head of the ChildLine Schools Service, says: “We’re looking for people with the right blend of skills, passion and compassion to go into primary schools around the country and make a real difference for children,” which is what the service is all about. Potential volunteers will be asked to

commit to visiting 10 local schools per academic year during usual school times. Once selected, volunteers will undergo a training programme under the expert guidance of NSPCC staff before finding themselves at the front of the class delivering interactive assemblies and workshops with the children and young people. Lee believes that the decision to deploy a volunteer workforce will play a pivotal role in the service, making a real difference to children. “The volunteers we recruit know their communities; they know the local schools and parents. Working in partnership with them and the schools gives us credibility and allows us to reach far more children than we would otherwise be able to.” Despite the service being in its relative infancy, the ChildLine Schools Service has already been delivered in 1,273 schools and reached over 90,300 children up until the end of July 2012. The feedback from school teachers, parents and the children has been extremely positive. Indeed, following a recent visit by the NSPCC team to a school in Wales, a class teacher remarked: “It was a fantastic session, which provided great support for pupils and staff. I felt that you put the message over clearly and the fact that you repeated the ChildLine phone number and website address on numerous occasions meant that most children will remember them. Some of the children in my class have visited your website already.” And for those delivering the sessions, the experience has been a challenging but wholly positive one, as a ChildLine Schools Service volunteer from the south west explains: “At first I was nervous but the more times I visit schools to deliver an assembly or a workshop, the more rewarding it becomes. The ChildLine Schools Service matters; it is instrumental in keeping our children happy and safe. This is their right, and I feel privileged to be part of changing the face of child protection in my own small way.” Through the ChildLine Schools Service, the NSPCC wants to see a cultural shift, creating a generation of children who know how to seek help if they are being abused; grow up feeling safe; and feel free to enjoy many more summers like the one we have just had. To find out more about the NSPCC ChildLine Schools Service and similar opportunities please visit or email In memoriam donations can also help to fund vital services such as ChildLine and the Schools Service, helping to keep the most vulnerable children safe.


charity spotlight

A breath of life

The British Lung Foundation discusses its Breath of Life tribute funds, which allow the bereaved to raise money in their loved ones’ memory


oday lung disease affects one in five people in the UK and millions more are at risk. With so many lives touched by respiratory disease, from asthma to lung cancer, a donation to charity rather than sending flowers can make a significant difference to lives now and in the future, as well as remembering a loved one. The British Lung Foundation (BLF) is the UK’s charity for leading the fight against lung disease. It is dedicated to funding vital research so that new treatments and cures can help save lives; promotes better understanding of lung disease; and campaigns for change in the nation’s lung health. We offer a number of support services too, so those who are in need of help can turn to us for expert support and advice. Breath of Life funds were set up as a simple way to pay a lasting tribute to someone special. Through these, friends and family can donate to the BLF in memory of a loved one to raise much needed funds for the fight against lung disease. Once a fund has been set up, contributors can keep on adding to it in whichever way they choose. When the total reaches £2,000, a tree at a Woodland Trust site can be dedicated in

memory of a loved one, and when the fund reaches £5,000, a star can be named after them, which will appear on the Intergalactic Star Database. We can also claim 25p from the taxman for every £1 donated by a UK taxpayer through the Gift Aid scheme. Jimmie Chinn (pictured) sadly died on 29 January 2011, exactly 39 years to the day after he met his partner, Peter. Jimmie died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the age of 70 after an 11-year battle; but as a national and international playwright he left a wonderful literary legacy of nine full-length plays and 12 one-act plays, including Straight and Narrow, which appeared in the West End. Peter decided to extend the legacy by celebrating Jimmie’s life and career successes through a Breath of Life tribute fund. In January he marked the first year anniversary of Jimmie’s death by collaborating with many of Jimmie’s peers, friends and colleagues in the theatre world, to stage his best known plays. Incredibly, the fund already stands at over £3,300, and Peter has aspirations to develop it further. Jimmie was an actor, a stage director, and a writer for radio, the stage and television;

Peter called him “a master of all media – a real talent.” Jimmie’s COPD diagnosis caused him to struggle with the simplest of everyday tasks and sadly he eventually lost interest in writing – his life’s passion. Following the diagnosis, Peter found it difficult to understand what was happening to Jimmie, but the information they received from the BLF helped them both to feel less isolated and more informed. Peter hopes that the Breath of Life fund, and Jimmie’s legacy of great work, will help to provide support to people like them so that they can make the most of the time they have left with their loved ones. He says: “When we used to go to the specialists and doctors, they talked about the BLF and the work that they did. That’s when Jimmie decided he didn’t want flowers – he wanted something else; something longer lasting.” Peter has carried this wish further with a great fundraising idea: “When people ring me up and ask if they can use Jimmie’s plays, I can say, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do a charity night as well?’ That way we can keep the fund going and I’ll be glad to have something there to remind everyone of Jimmie. I want to keep his memory alive through the Breath of Life fund and make sure that his work is continually being performed. He adds: “The BLF and their health information and advice helped Jimmie a lot during the last three or four years. Reading about other people and communicating ideas with those who also had COPD really helped; you know what they say – a problem shared is a problem halved. Now we can help other people – that was Jimmie; that’s what his nature was all about. He cared for everyone else; he was an extremely generous, kind man.” Peter finally remarks: “It’s simple for those who want to set up a Breath of Life fund; it can be a very enhancing experience in memory of someone that you loved so very much.”

For more information on BLF’s tribute funds, please call 0207 078 7920 or email


Charity Spotlight

Precious habitats

Tattershall Carrs Wood, Tattershall, Lincolnshire. Photo WTPL/Katherine Jaiteh

The Woodland Trust, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, explains how funeral directors can help in its fight to conserve and restore ancient woodland


he last 18 months have been particularly busy for the Woodland Trust – the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. First there was our public opposition to the proposed mass disposal by the Forestry Commission of some of the UK’s most iconic and well-loved woodland. Our campaigning, along with that of other organisations who opposed the policy, and the huge public outcry, led to a government u-turn and to our chief executive, Sue Holden, being invited to join the Independent Panel on Forestry alongside other industry CEOs and forestry experts. In February 2012 our Jubilee Woods Project was launched, and we set out to encourage people from across the UK to come together to plant more than six million trees in tribute to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The results so far have been incredible. Sixty special Diamond Jubilee Woods will be created across the UK – each at least 60 acres in size – along with 250 smaller Jubilee Woods. The jewel in the crown of the project is the creation of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood in the heart of the National Forest in Leicestershire – and, on 1 June, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal planted the first tree on this site as patron of the Jubilee Woods project. Large-scale planting will commence in November 2012, with 300,000 trees set to be planted over the next three years to create the 186 hectare (460 acre) forest. What’s more, it will only take as little as 12 years to see the woodland take shape and become a thriving habitat for an array of wildlife. The establishment of this new woodland

holds particular significance when you learn that ancient woodland, our richest terrestrial wildlife habitat and part of the landscape since the last Ice Age, now covers less than two per cent of the UK, with more than half of the little that remained either damaged or destroyed within the last 80 years. Sadly, we are one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with only 13 per cent woodland cover in total, compared to a European average of 44 per cent. That’s why the Trust also gets involved in campaigning, speaking out for the rights of trees and woods under threat, and forging partnerships with other organisations for the benefit of woodland throughout the UK. We have had many successes over the years, and some disappointments too; but when you consider that more than 85 per cent of ancient woodland has no legal designation to protect it from outside threats, it’s clear we must continue with our vital work. This year the Woodland Trust celebrates its 40th anniversary and we owe special thanks to our supporters for helping us achieve so much. Over the past 40 years, our combined efforts to acquire, protect and restore ancient woodland have been a triumphant, testimony to the beliefs and determination of our founder Kenneth Watkins. Since our first woodland purchase in 1973 we’ve gone from strength to strength, and today own more than 1,200 woods across the UK, covering over 23,000 hectares (50,000 acres), all of which are freely open for everyone to enjoy. We have also planted over 16 million trees, 3.2 million of them by children, and become the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity, with over 210,000 members.

Could you support the work of the Woodland Trust? Funds are raised in a variety of ways: through membership, grants, legacies, donations, merchandise, tree and woodland dedications, and by working with corporate sponsors. You may have seen our relationship with Golden Charter – our longest standing corporate partnership? Or perhaps Ronseal’s Woodland Colours range of garden paint in B&Q, or Woodland eggs in Sainsbury’s, the lead corporate sponsor of our Jubilee Woods Project in 2012? We are now actively looking for funeral directors who might be interested in working with us to promote tree and woodland dedications as a different kind of memorial option for their clients.

Sisters Polly and Jackie Hollis dedicated an acre with bench in Butcher’s Wood, Hassocks, West Sussex, in memory of their parents. Photo of Polly Hollis, courtesy of Jackie Hollis.

You can find out more at, or by calling senior marketing executive Stella Williams on 0845 293 5644.


Charity Spotlight

Change for the better

The Circulation Foundation outlines its contributions to the funding of vascular disease treatment research; the support of sufferers; and the education of the public


he Circulation Foundation was established in 1992 by vascular surgeons, who identified that there was no charity dealing specifically with the vascular system and vascular disease as a whole. The Foundation exists primarily to raise funds for vital research into the causes, treatments and prevention of vascular diseases. It provides easily accessible, high quality information and ongoing support for vascular disease sufferers and those who care for them. Vascular disease – the silent killer Vascular disease is caused by inflammation and weakness of the veins and arteries – and by the build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels – a process known as atherosclerosis. The accumulation of these deposits happens over a long period of time and can be virtually symptomless, until the arteries and veins become so damaged that the blood flow to vital organs and muscles is compromised and causes a lack of mobility, pain and tissue death. Vascular disease is the most common forerunner to coronary heart disease and heart attack, and it also causes stroke by affecting arteries in the neck. One of the most common forms of vascular disease is peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is when arteries in the legs are affected. It is estimated that nine per cent of the population suffer from PAD, which causes painful legs when walking, ulceration and amputation. Every part of the body to which blood flows can be affected by vascular disease, which is why we’re committed to saving lives and limbs. Outside of the medical community, vascular disease largely goes unrecognised, even though it affects such a large proportion of people. One of the largest problems with vascular disease is the lack of early detection and referral by doctors. This is because in vascular disease, specifically PAD, symptoms can be mistaken for signs of ageing, as sufferers tend to be 55 years and older. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are the third most common cause of death in men over 65. They are virtually symptomless, and once ruptured, it is a race against time to have them repaired. When an aneurysm bursts it stops delivering blood to the affected part of the body, much like a burst water main. However, if the blood cannot deliver oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues, these can die, and if the problem is not caught in time, it could result in the loss of limbs or even life. Bernard Brown is a very active 85 year old who, following a routine scan in 2009, found that his aorta was 7.5 centimetres across where an aneurysm had formed. He was immediately referred to a vascular surgeon and was advised that he should have an endovascular aneurysm repair, or EVAR. The next week, Bernard was operated on. He was numbed from the waist down and a stent was then threaded up through his arteries and into place inside the aneurysm, lining it from the inside and preventing the aorta from bursting.

The day after the operation, Bernard was up and walking about. The only pain he felt was where the small incisions had been made in his groin. The only sign that Bernard had witnessed from his aneurysm, was that he thought he could feel his heart beating in his stomach, but he had put it down to overdoing it. Given that 85 per cent of men whose aneurysms burst die, Bernard feels very lucky indeed to have found his and had it operated on. He is now back to full health and working as a volunteer groundsman at York Rugby and Cricket Club. He also cares for his wife who recently had a stroke. His quality of life hasn’t changed – he is doing exactly the same as he did before; but this time without the ticking time bomb inside. We need to increase the funding for research into the treatment and prevention of all vascular diseases, so that everyone has the opportunity for the best care available; makes a good recovery; and goes on to lead a full and happy life. How we’re changing things for the better... Even though vascular disease is so common in our society, it is vastly underfunded in the field of medical research. The Circulation Foundation is proud to be supporting work to change that through its focused research programme, which: • funds research undertaken by established vascular research scientists; • takes research advances from the laboratory to the bedside, to improve treatment and prevention of vascular disorders; • captures medical research students early in their career to help build a strong vascular research community for the future. The Circulation Foundation is a relatively small medical research charity, so every donation makes a big difference; but our ambitions are not small by any means – our long-term goal is to eradicate vascular disease altogether, through our innovative research programme. In the meantime, our reach continues to grow as we seek advancements in the treatment of vascular disease and perform a vital function in supporting sufferers and their families with information and making everyone aware of the disease. Many of our supporters have found that giving in memory of a loved one can be a really positive way to remember them, keeping their memory alive by funding research that will help other people who suffer with vascular disease. For further information about the Circulation Foundation, please visit or call 0207 304 4779.



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

23 July – Sally Ride (aged 61) Sally Kristen Ride was a physicist and astronaut who rose to prominence after becoming America’s first female (and youngest) astronaut when she was aboard the space shuttle Challenger in June 1983. Ride, of Encino, California, dismissed encouragement from Billie Jean King to become a professional tennis player in order to study and achieve a PhD in astrophysics. She joined NASA in 1978 and by the time she left, in 1987, was the director of its exploration office. She passed away after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

27 July – Geoffrey Hughes (aged 68) Geoffrey Hughes, who has died of prostate cancer, was a popular actor renowned for his numerous supporting roles in British television programmes. Having spent nearly a decade as the ultimately hapless bin-man Eddie Yeats in Coronation Street, his next notable role came in the shape of workshy Onslow in Keeping up Appearances. Other notable performances were Twiggy in The Royle Family and Vernon Scripps in Heartbeat.

27 July – Jack Taylor (aged 82) John Keith ‘Jack’ Taylor OBE was a football referee widely regarded as one of the best ever. The former butcher officiated over 1,000 games including the 1966 FA Cup Final, 1971 European Cup Final and, most famously, the 1974 World Cup Final – in which he became the first referee to award a penalty kick. Taylor pointed to the spot after Dutch maestro Johan Cruyff was scythed down in the first minute of football’s greatest spectacle. He went on to award a second penalty later in the game. The FIFA Hall of Fame inductee passed away from natural causes. Maeve Binchy Snell was an Irish author, playwright and journalist whose novels have sold more than 40 million copies in 37 languages. Maeve wrote for the Irish Times before publishing her immensely popular novels. Her humorous look on small-town Irish life was often a theme of her novels, which dealt with issues such as childparent relationships; tensions between rural and urban life; and Irish cultural changes in the 20th century.

Image: Jon Kay

30 July – Maeve Binchy (aged 72)

6 August – Sir Bernard Lovell (aged 98) Sir Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell OBE was a radio astronomer and physicist known worldwide for developing the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory. After receiving a first-class degree in physics at Bristol University in 1934, he worked at the University of Manchester. Following World War Two, and with funding from the university, Lovell constructed what was then the largest steerable radio telescope in the world – the first, and for a time only instrument that could detect both Soviet and American satellites during the Cold War.

11 August – Sid Waddell (aged 72) Sid Waddell was an English broadcaster best known for his idiosyncratic commentary of darts matches. Waddell, and his cavalier use of language, played a key role in the sport’s rise in popularity. Dubbed the ‘Voice of Darts’, Waddell made his name employing phrases such as: “Look at the man go! It’s like trying to stop a water buffalo with a pea-shooter!” The former sports commentator of the year succumbed to bowel cancer.

19 August – Tony Scott (aged 68) Anthony David ‘Tony’ Scott was a British film director whose extensive filmography includes The Hunger; Top Gun; True Romance; Enemy of the State; and Man on Fire. Born in North Shields, Scott originally wanted to be a fine artist before following his elder brother, Ridley, into cinema. Despite criticism that his films lacked substance in favour of style, Scott was an in-demand director whose films regularly returned a heavy profit. He was preparing to direct a sequel to his highest grossing film, Top Gun, before committing suicide for unknown reasons (at the time of going to print) by jumping off a Los Angeles bridge.

Image: Robert Alexander

A man famed for his aphorisms, Eugene Luther Gore Vidal is someone who made it nigh on impossible to sum him up in an equally laconic way. Born in a military hospital in New York, the controversial Vidal was a proficient writer of essays, novels, screenplays and plays. Never a fan of his country’s foreign policy and always with an opinion on the world he saw as disintegrating around him, Vidal rarely shirked the opportunity to voice his caustic opinions through a variety of media outlets right up until his death, from complications of pneumonia.

Image: David Shankbone

31 July – Gore Vidal (aged 86)








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Your story

your story Stephen Love, director,

Willowfield Private Funeral Home, Belfast What attracted you to the funeral profession and how did Willowfield Private Funeral Home come to be established? Oddly enough, the funeral profession was most certainly the last thing on my mind when I was leaving school and deciding on my future career path. My intention was to attend college for a few years to study for a degree to become a school teacher, but that all changed one day at my grandmother’s kitchen table when my aunt, who has been in the funeral profession for around 25 years, informed me of a vacancy at a local funeral home. She suggested I should apply, which I did, and to my surprise at only 18 years old, I was successful! After working for two large conglomerates for many years, often working 12-hour shifts, I felt that I could put this time and energy into working these hours for myself. Having conducted extensive research I discovered there was enough market share in the area, so I took the huge risk – I sold my home during the economic boom and established Stephen Love Funeral Directors in August 2006. With the pressure of running the business on my own I had very little free time. I approached Elaine Barr to invest in the business in May 2008, which she did, with a view to upgrading and expanding it. That is when Willowfield Private Funeral Home, as the business is presently known, was born. The company has opened a second funeral home. Do you divide your time between both? At the time of giving this interview, our new funeral home on Donegall Road has only been trading for four weeks, so at the moment I spend the majority of my working day there. Meanwhile, my business partner Elaine works at our Woodstock Road office. The company won the Funeral Planner of the Year Award (Northern Ireland) for three consecutive years, and the Funeral Planner of the Year Award (United Kingdom) for two consecutive years from Golden Charter. What has led to Willowfield’s success? We are absolutely delighted to have won these awards as we put a lot of effort into promoting our pre-paid funeral plans. We have realised how valuable and unique this service is to our profession – after all, not all businesses are guaranteed this type of future income. We often run competitions in the local press offering a £100 Tesco or M&S voucher when a funeral plan is purchased during that month, which have been a great success. We have also promoted our funeral plans in a local shopping centre and are planning to do so again.

What challenges do independents face and how has Willowfield overcome them? I think that whether you’re an independent or a conglomerate we are all facing the same challenges at present. The majority of funeral homes in east Belfast now ask their clients for a deposit before the funeral service, to cover disbursements. We feel that this may be a good idea but only for the interests of those funeral homes and their shareholders; not for their clients. Rather than follow in their footsteps and ask our clients for a deposit, we like to think outside the box, and instead clearly advertise that we do not charge fees upfront – something that has clearly increased our business by 80 per cent. Some of our clients who have previously used our competitors’ services have told us they felt distressed when asked for money upfront. For me personally, being independent isn’t all about money – it’s about helping local people who live in my community through one of the most distressing times of their lives. What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the variety that comes with this type of work; no two days are the same. I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping clients as best I can, and receiving a simple thank you card or a letter of appreciation makes all those important deadlines and all those long hours so worthwhile. Which changes can you see happening in the future? The obvious shortage of grave space at the moment plays a huge role in how things will transform in the near future. I read an article recently about a body liquefaction process in America, however I personally don’t feel this will prove to be a successful method to dispose of a body in Northern Ireland. Seventy-three per cent of the funerals our funeral home performs are cremations, and this percentage is rising. This is probably due to the lower costs involved for families, so I think this pattern will continue and the majority of funerals in the future will include cremation. What advice would you give to anyone starting out in the profession? This profession is not for everyone but it can be a great and interesting career for life. It can take you anywhere, but you’ll only get out of it what you put in. You’ll work with and meet all types of people, but I have learned that it is important to always keep your integrity no matter what. Overall, be polite, patient, courteous, sympathetic and professional.

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Funeral Service Times September 2012  

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

Funeral Service Times September 2012  

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