The independent voice of the funeral profession
ervice times NOVEMBER 2011
A walk to remember Jazz funerals: past and present
Web awareness Making use of online directories Reaping the benefits The many ways in which funeral celebrants can help you to deliver the perfect service for your clients
Lest we forget
This month, Rev George Callander reflects upon the sacrifices made by so many servicemen and women
November 2 011
C o n te n t s
The latest news from the profession Gus Nichols reflects upon the efforts of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors and others in enforcing funeral service standards
On the road
Attention to detail
Celebrating the celebrant!
A walk to remember
Built on eco-foundations
A new lease of life
Louise Hoffman takes a look at the online directories that are helping funeral directors reach out to potential clients in the 21st century
This month Peter Wyllie recognises the symbolic potential of roads when commemorating the life journey of a loved one New products and services from the trade
Along with the rise in popularity of pre-paid funeral plans, many individuals are now organising their own funeral services in advance. Julie Bindel investigates Tara Christopher explains the many advantages of utilising the services of a funeral celebrant, observed during her own working experiences
This month we remember the end of the First World War, and the many servicemen and women who have given their lives for their country, as Rev George Callander reminds us A joyful celebration of life, the jazz funeral is a long-held tradition which seems to be enjoying new popularity – in the US and the UK – as Naida Ally discovers Ecoffins office manager Chris Garland provides an update on the development of the company’s new environmentally friendly warehouse and office buildings Mark Abbot of J&J Maintenance Services explains the ways in which his company can support funeral directors in delivering excellence
Gifts of life. Gifts of hope.
Remembering loved ones
Voice on the highstreet
CAFOD discusses the importance of in memoriam donations for grieving families and their chosen charities
The RAF Benevolent Fund introduces its new website, which allows the bereaved to share and reflect upon stories and memories of their loved ones A tribute to some of those who have died recently Up and coming events and meetings for the funeral profession Patrick Cook of Pat Cook Funeral Services, Lincoln
n this November issue of Funeral Service Times there is a definite focus on the evolution of society – both in terms of culture (the pre-planning of funeral services and the resurgence of the jazz funeral) and technology (online directories and how they can be utilised by funeral directors). For the most part, these are all examples of positive progression – the former suggesting a new level of public involvement in funeral planning and life commemoration (could this one day signal the end of the so-called ‘death taboo’?); and the latter being an alternative means by which to reach potential clients in this ever-expanding world. However there are negative aspects to the evolution – one of which was highlighted last month by the Co-operative Funeralcare. Having conducted a survey with 2,088 respondents, the organisation discovered that traditional funeral etiquette is dying out – a result that was not unexpected by the many Co-op staff members, who had on numerous occasions experienced discourteous behaviour and even road rage during processions. Indeed, almost one in three of those aged 18 to 44 years old were unaware of the unwritten rules for funeral processions, and 37.9 per cent of pedestrians would not stop what they were doing for a passing funeral cortège. I would be interested to hear about your views on the subject, and any experiences you may have had, which either confirm or contradict the Co-op survey findings. Do send me an email or letter using the addresses listed on page 6. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the magazine and the month ahead!
Funeral Service The independent voice of the funeral profession
Funeral Service Times is published monthly by:
Mulberry Publications Ltd, Wellington House, Butt Road, Colchester CO3 3DA Tel: 01206 767 797 Fax: 01206 767 532 www.funeralservicetimes.co.uk Editor Louise Hoffman email@example.com Editorial Assistants Jon Chapple firstname.lastname@example.org Naida Ally email@example.com Production Assistant Lewis Bowes firstname.lastname@example.org Group Advertisement Manager Kelly Smith email@example.com Advertising Sales Adam Bennett firstname.lastname@example.org Accounts Maureen Scrivener email@example.com Customer Services 01206 767 797 firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing writers: Gus Nichols, Julie Bindel, Peter Wyllie, Rev George Callander Cover image: Main: NewOrleansOnline.com Poppies: The Royal British Legion Design Arthouse Publishing Solutions Ltd 01394 410 490 email@example.com 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.
Austin’s scoops award for excellence Staff at Austin’s Funeral Directors are celebrating after scooping the top prize at a prestigious business awards ceremony. The 300-year-old firm, which has branches throughout east and north Hertfordshire, beat off stiff competition to win the Service Excellence category at the East of England Business Champions Awards, held at the Tewinbury Farm Hotel in Welwyn. Claire Austin – the 10th generation Austin to run the company – said she was “thrilled” the company had won: “This award is testament to the hard work and dedication of all the staff who work so hard to provide a personal, caring service to our clients. The whole Austin’s ethos is about being welcoming to all and it’s fantastic to have our efforts acknowledged.” Ian Cording, regional chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, which sponsored the awards, added: “I was extremely impressed by the high standard of entries. It is refreshing to see how many successful businesses the region has in what continues to be a very tough economic climate.”
Should organ donors’ funeral costs be paid? Patients who donate their organs should have funeral expenses paid for by the NHS, a new report by a leading ethics body has said. The Nuffield Council of Bioethics stated that the move could lead to more people donating their organs, but ruled out directly paying donors. Professor Marilyn Strathern, who chaired the inquiry, said: “The possibility of sparing relatives the financial burden of a funeral might encourage more people to register as donors.” However, Dr Kevin Gunning, a consultant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and a member of the Intensive Care Society, said the plans wouldn’t “change a great deal about the way people think about organ donation,” and added: “I’m not sure that, if I was signing up to the Organ Donor Register as a 25-year-old, the fact that my funeral expenses were going to be paid would make a great deal of difference to whether I signed up or not.”
Has funeral etiquette been given its last rites? Funeral etiquette is dying out as more than one in four people admit to not paying their respects to a passing procession, according to new research by the Co-operative Funeralcare. The study indicated that generations of people are unaware of traditional funeral etiquette and show little or no courtesy to funeral cortèges – with teenagers to those in their mid-40s the most likely to be ill-mannered. The research also found that those in their late 20s and early 30s were the most oblivious to funeral traditions, while Scots remained the most courteous. The findings are independently backed by the views of funeral directors from the Co-operative, with almost three-quarters of staff having witnessed an increase in discourteous behaviour even within the last five years. David Collingwood, national operations director of the Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “There has been much talk since the riots this summer about attitudes and respect within society, and we have seen a significant shift over the years away from people observing the unwritten rules of funeral etiquette. “Many people ignore a passing funeral procession, and it is not uncommon for pedestrians to purposely disrupt a cortège by using a pelican crossing to stop funeral cars, or even cross the road between funeral cars. The days of workers stopping what they were doing to mark a passing a procession or people removing their hats and bowing their heads have long passed.”
The Drifters record song for Warwickshire funeral service
Image: Worthing Theatres
Legendary American doo-wop group The Drifters has recorded a song especially to be played at the funeral of a Warwickshire woman’s mother. Stephanie Clifton from Kineton emailed the band after having trouble finding a recording of their cover of Mama, an Il Divo song that the family had previously heard at a Drifters concert. She was told they had only ever played the song live, and that no such recording existed. However, Michael Williams, the group’s current lead singer, said the band took the request to heart. “We were so sad and kept trying to think of what we could do for the family,” he said, “but then I had a brainwave – I said: ‘Well, why can’t we go into one of the concerts early, in the sound check, and record it there?’ “We felt pretty bad, so it was the least we could do. She was a life-long Drifters fan and we felt this was a good way of giving back to our fans.” Stephanie Clifton added: “We still cannot quite believe their generosity.”
J R Hoult honours local fire officer J R Hoult and Grandson Funeral Directors of North Wingfield, near Chesterfield, recently conducted a special service for a popular local fire officer who passed away after a long battle with cancer. Hundreds of people turned out to bid farewell to Norman Hinchley, whose coffin – in accordance with his family’s wishes – was draped in the Union Flag and secured on a specially-adapted aerial ladder platform on the top of a fire engine before his cremation service in Chesterfield. Funeral director Robert Hoult led the cortège before being met by seven other fire vehicles and over 400 mourners at the crematorium. Hoult commented that he was honoured to have been asked to take care of the funeral arrangements and had found it a “challenging yet rewarding” experience.
The Co-op seeks to reverse bee decline Almost 11 acres of new wildflower meadows are being created by the Co-operative Funeralcare in an effort to boost the United Kingdom’s dwindling bee population. As part of the Co-operative Group’s £750,000 ‘Plan Bee’ campaign to reverse the decline of British bee and pollinator populations, wildflower meadows providing nectar will be created on 3.75 acres at Poole and Wimborne Woodland Burial Ground; on two acres at Hinton Park Woodland Burial Ground near Christchurch; and on five at Mayfields Woodland Remembrance Park in Eastham in the Wirral. David Collingwood, operations director for the Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “Our grounds are set within acres of countryside and the new wildflower meadows will provide not only a beautiful resting place for loved ones, but also create a new habitat for these important insects.” Plan Bee is a key element of the Co-op’s Ethical Operating Plan, launched earlier this year. The project also includes establishing a series of wildflower ‘Bee Roads’ in Yorkshire, support for the native British bee and encouraging the growth in the number of urban Image: Ecologist Liz Powell at Mayfields Park beekeepers across the UK.
Three minute interview
Julia Luxton, sales manager, Greenfield Creations Describe yourself in three words
Selfless, loyal and determined. What is your earliest memory?
Crying at the gate when my mum turned and walked away from me on my first day of school. When you were at school, what did you want to be and why?
A policewoman, to serve my community to the best of my ability and maybe help to change people’s lives. I ended up working for the NHS for 18 years instead, but still achieved a similar result. My role at Greenfield Creations allows me to still have the same ethos. What was the first music album you bought?
David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. If you could have dinner with one person, who would you choose and why?
I am going to have to choose three options, as it would depend on my mood at the time. Either Jeremy Clarkson, Alan Sugar or Alan Davies, as I’m a ‘petrol head’ with a passion for business and I like a good laugh. What is the best advice you have been given?
“Let it go” – this has served me well. It is so important not to get bogged down with inconsequential worries and concerns and to focus on the things that really matter in life. What is your next goal in life?
Unrealistically – to be the next ‘Stig’ on Top Gear. Realistically – to have a fantastic Christmas break with my family and friends. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
Canada, for its peace and solitude. I’d like to have a cabin by the lake in winter with a rip-roaring fire and maybe take the dog for long walks in the snow. What is your favourite quote or saying?
“If in doubt, don’t.” What is the most important thing your job has taught you?
Never be under any illusion that you are irreplaceable. Competition is a great thing and I thrive on it – if there was no competition, we would all rest on our laurels instead of striving to improve everything we do.
And briefly Pauper funerals in Wales on the increase The number of so-called ‘pauper funerals’ in Wales is on the rise, with an increasing number of families unable to pay to bury their loved ones, according to the chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association. BBC Wales’s Week In Week Out programme recently found that Welsh councils have increased funeral charges by 168 per cent in the last 10 years. The head of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) believes the problem is set to increase yet further.
Baby loss memorial ceremony held in Sheffield A woman from South Yorkshire has hosted a ceremony to help break the silence surrounding the loss of a baby. Clare Freeland, a civil funeral celebrant who has suffered four miscarriages, said the Baby Loss Remembrance Ceremony, held in Sheffield on the 15 October, was an opportunity for people to talk. “It’s very sad and tragic and people find it hard to deal with, but it happens a lot,” she said. “I see it from the other side, but I really appreciated it when people would let me talk about my losses because it affected me greatly.”
Redditch Crematorium poolheating work underway Building work has begun that will link a Worcestershire crematorium to a new swimming pool. The controversial project, which will save more than £14,000 a year in heating costs for the local council, will see heat from Redditch Crematorium used to warm the pool at Abbey Stadium Leisure Centre. According to Redditch Borough Council, the pipes will run under the road through the cemetery and will not affect any graves. The plans were previously attacked by the Unison trade union as “an insult to local residents.”
Bournemouth FDs appealing for donations A mother and daughter team from two funeral homes near Bournemouth are appealing for donations of food for needy families. Charlie Loveday, 31, from the Co-operative Funeralcare home in Victoria Road in Ferndown, and Jenny Dalglish, 58, from the Station Road branch in New Milton, are asking for donations of non-perishable foods such as tins or packets of food, personal hygiene products and toys for children’s Christmas presents. All donated goods will be handed to the Bournemouth Food Bank, which feeds hundreds of families in need. Donations can be given at New Milton throughout November.
J&S sponsors Herts bowls J&S Funerals of Abbots Langley has announced a sponsorship deal with the Hertfordshire Bowls Johns Trophy and Walker Cup women’s premier teams. The agreement will see the teams equipped with new playing shirts and showerproof jackets. The deal followed hot on the heels of a similar sponsorship arrangement between the Middleton Cup and Balcombe Trophy Hertfordshire men’s elite teams and the Institute of Civil Funerals. Speaking at the unveiling of the new kits, Marcia Pearce, ladies’ president of Hertfordshire Bowls, said: “This is great for us – we look and feel like a team. We are so grateful to J&S Funerals for their input and are happy to put their name out there in the limelight in Hertfordshire and beyond.” John Simmons, the joint owner of J&S Funerals, added: “The ladies look great in their kit and it’s good to see our name out there with them.”
Dear Editor, During discussions with many fune ral directors in recent months, it appears that many were not awa re that they could be breaking the law! The reason is that some independ ents were not aware of a 2002 change in the law, which states that cash received in advance for funerals has to be dealt with in-l ine with legislation that requires the funds to be kept separately under strict rules under the auspices of the Funeral Planning Authority. We at Golden Charter were surp rised to find how many funeral directors have had instructions and payment from families over the years. A number contacted us once informed of the potential implicat ions, eager to relieve themselves of this liability by transferring the plan s to a secure trust, and at the same time , taking advantage of the benefits and growth opportunities that the trus t can offer them. To re-cap: • The law does not cover old plan s prior to 2002, but does cover all cash collected by funeral dire ctors since January of that year. Any cash received from clients cann ot be retained by the funeral director in a ‘not dead yet’ file. Fun eral directors who have done, or are doing this are acting illeg ally and could be liable to be reported to the Financial Services Authority. • If you find yourself in this situa tion, Golden Charter and other plan providers can help to protect you. Stay legal and stay protected! Golden Charter
Regulation â€“ will it happen?
Gus Nichols reflects upon the efforts of the Irish Association of
Funeral Directors and others in enforcing funeral service standards
was first elected to the council of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) in 1999. At the first council meeting I was invited to, just three of us showed up. We did not even have a quorum, and as I recall we made a quick decision to retire to the bar. I wondered aloud what on earth I had got myself into. I remember the second meeting quite vividly â€“ it was here that I learned, for the first time, what the goals of the organisation really were. We were there to represent members, obviously, but also to provide education and training, run an inspection programme and help funeral service in Ireland become a regulated, licensed profession. Wow. We retired to the bar again. I am not sure whether any of us present at those meetings had any idea of the size of the task we had set ourselves. Nothing wrong with ambition, I said to myself, but all of this was going to take a huge amount of time and effort. The years have rolled forward at an alarming pace since then, and it pleases me greatly to write that many of the aspirations we had then have come to pass. It has taken an incredible effort from a dedicated few, but what has been achieved is tangible â€“ in particular the range of services given to members and
the running of the Certificate in Funeral Practice (CFP), which is our educational award. It was this piece of the jigsaw that allowed our organisation to step forward into the realm of regulation, government and lobbying the right people. However, other developments in the years before that strengthened the hand of the Association. In 2002, I was invited to represent the IAFD at the first meeting of the European Standardisation working group for funeral services. Under the auspices of CEN, the Europe-wide standardisation body, and hosted by the DIN (the German standards agency), representatives from around Europe were assembled to produce a document that, for the first time, focused on funeral service across Europe. The UK was very ably represented by Mr Adrian Haler. Together, we attended meetings across Europe over the next two years. It led to the publication of the final European Standard in 2006. It is a worthy document that merits discussion perhaps again, but as a piece of work it is a useful tool for our funeral service colleagues and neighbours on the continent. In Ireland in 2009, the Irish Hospice Foundation was given the task of launching the End of Life Forum, a study of end-oflife care throughout Ireland. The IAFD was asked to make a submission to the Forum
in relation to funeral-care standards, and to make recommendations. One of those recommendations outlined proposals to regulate the funeral industry in Ireland, and this was grabbed with both hands by the Forum. As a result the IAFD paper on regulation in the industry was widely quoted in the media. The notion that we had of licensing back in 1999, for the first time, was beginning to take form. There is nothing like publicity to get the wheels turning. A delegation from the IAFD and End of Life Forum met the government in October 2010, and the new government in June of this year. A further meeting is to take place imminently. For the first time, it is not just the funeral directors who are proposing change, but other influential voices as well. Interestingly, the legislators believe that the revamped Coroners Bill provides the best vehicle for first-time legislation on funeral services and cremation in Ireland. I will explore, in more depth, the substance of the regulation proposal in a later column, but in the meantime, watch this space!
For more information about FIAT-IFTA, please visit www.thanos.org
Web awareness Louise Hoffman takes a look
at the online directories that are helping funeral directors reach out to potential clients in the 21st century
ver since it was first launched to the masses in the early 1990s, internet technology has advanced at an ever-quickening pace – from the original, sluggish dial-up connection; to ultra-fast wireless and fibre optic broadband; to the latest smartphones, such as the BlackBerry and iPhone, which offer users a mobile internet browsing service. These improvements have not only made the technology more useable, but also more accessible, to the point that it is now seen as ‘part of the furniture’ in most households in the UK and Ireland. When seeking information, people will now often turn to the internet as opposed to the traditional telephone book or set of encyclopedias, and online shopping is also soaring in popularity, with recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing that almost £1 in every £10 spent by shoppers now involves internet purchases. In view of this, it makes sense for all businesses, across all sectors, to have an internet presence of some description – whether it be a simple listing on a business search engine, or a full, all-singing-all-dancing website. Luckily for the funeral profession, there are a number of sites already in existence which can help you to promote your services to the public – each offering a range of added benefits. Launched in August, funeralmap.co.uk is already attracting around 15,000 hits a month from families using the website for the first time. There are now listings for well over 8,000 different funeral resources – from funeral directors, to crematoria, to florists – and numbers are increasing all the time. “What makes funeralmap.co.uk so unique is that it is the only nationwide map-based resource, making it very easy for families to find a local funeral director,” says founder Anne Barber (pictured above right). “All they have to do is enter a postcode or name of a town and tick the relevant services they require within a designated distance, before the answers are displayed via pointers on an online map.” All funeral directors already receive a free basic listing, but now Anne is offering those who upgrade a free ‘how to find us’ link, ideal for any funeral director without a location map on their own website. “The public tell us they like being able to see the location and crosscheck distances. It makes it so much simpler to co-ordinate funeral arrangements and share the information with family and friends,” she adds, continuing: “Specialists such as hospital bereavement managers are also recommending funeralmap to families who have lost a relative in hospital, as they often find themselves arranging a funeral from a distance, and they tell us funeralmap is incredibly useful.” This last point has also been recognised by !National Announcements, which says: “With families and friends spread across the country or even the globe, announcing a death and funeral arrangements and notifying everyone of any last minute changes can be time consuming for clients.” The !National Announcements website therefore provides a range of helpful services for funeral directors and their clients. A funeral director can make an announcement which can be easily accessed by the client’s friends and family members wherever they are in the world, and can also be directly forwarded to the press.
funeralmap.co.uk “This simple-to-use resource is available to all UK funeral directors, whether they currently have a website or not. They can create a free customised page on the !National Announcements site, or link to the site from their own website, or simply visit www.nationalannouncements.co.uk “The announcement includes all the funeral details and any updates such as dress code, and each announcement page can link to a specific florist and/or a personal charity donation page on the Just Giving website.” In response to feedback, !National Announcements is currently working to add a link for funeral directors to upload professional photographs or a video. E Business Resources’ FuneralDirectorsUK website was born of a chance conversation and an understanding of the way in which members of the public are now searching for information, as managing director Martin Deakin explains: “It wasn’t until a young friend, who had just left university and was starting out in
the big wide world, asked what he would do if he had to arrange a funeral. He said that he honestly didn’t have a clue how to go about it, but when questioned it transpired that his research would be entirely web-based, as this was what he was comfortable with. I was also surprised to find that my 78-year-old mother-in-law had been ‘surfing’ to find a suitable funeral plan. “This is the case for the majority of people these days. Research shows that 81 per cent of people will search for what they want on Google. A further 11 per cent will use other search engines. That’s a total of 93 per cent of the people who were surveyed, saying they would check online first when looking for a service or product,” he explains. As a company which already provides web-based services for local businesses – from website design and hosting, to search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing – E Business Resources decided to develop a service to help the public when faced with the prospect of making funeral arrangements, providing them with useful information and a search function. “Using some analytical tools, we established the optimum keywords that were searched for and built a website and service around these,” Martin continues. “We are not funeral service experts, but we are online marketing experts and used our years of experience and research to ensure that whatever we provided would be found by people searching for information on funeral directors and funeral services. “We are proud of our simple-to-use, high-profile and attractive website. We can offer a free basic listing to all funeral directors – independent or otherwise – and an enhanced upgrade for those who wish to improve their profile further,” he adds. The FuneralDirectorsUK enhanced profile includes 250 words of descriptive text describing the business and the services it offers, along with its contact details; an image of the business, whether it be a photograph of the premises or a company logo; embedded html links to the business’s own website, unless it does not have one, in which case the enhanced listing appears as a one-page website; and optimised content to ensure the profile is attractive to search engines. Intimations based its website on a recognition of the fact that “there are many people affected by a person’s death, and these people will react differently to the death and will have different needs.” Its service directory has been designed to offer help to bereaved families as they plan the funeral and sort out their loved one’s affairs, providing them with listings of funeral directors and other services which may be required. “The circumstances surrounding the death can vary enormously and so we felt that it was important to include information on church and religious organisations, bereavement counsellors and bereavement support groups,” the company explains. “In doing this we recognise that the people left behind may have difficulty coping with the death and be searching for help and support. It is therefore important that any organisation which adds value to the funeral trade is listed in our directory.” The Intimations directory also allows service providers to showcase their services with a message appropriate to bereaved families and friends. The Bereavement Services Portal is provided by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) and managed by ASSETtrac Ltd, and also functions as a single gateway to a wide range of information relevant to and helpful for the recently bereaved, as well as other enquirers. Indeed, much of the information contained on the site is proving useful to funeral directors themselves. “Created in 2004 as an online directory for professionals working in the bereavement world, it has expanded to reflect growing use by the public, with well over 3,500,000 page impressions last year, and achieving more than 2,500 hits every day!” the organisation says.
The Portal is searchable, free to all visitors, and contact details can be regularly updated by the service providers themselves. Features include: contact details of over 1,800 public and private burial ground operators representing nearly 5,000 separate sites; maximum coffin widths at all 250 crematoria; services available at individual sites, such as office opening times, fees, disabled facilities, public transport and facilities; English Heritage-listed cemeteries and gardens; funeral directors, masons, and registrars’ addresses; natural burial grounds and location map; and links to university research, suppliers, and other useful organisations. This is just a sample of the options that are available to you if you are looking to build an online presence, or enhance the one you already have. It can be a daunting prospect – especially to those who have never used the internet before – but there are plenty of specialists out there to help you get started. So, why not log on today and decide which service best suits your needs! Supplier listing Deceased Online: 01273 207 203 or www.deceasedonline.com FuneralDirectorsUK: 0844 870 9074 or www.funeraldirectors-uk.co.uk funeralmap.co.uk: 0845 004 8608 or firstname.lastname@example.org Intimations: 0845 095 6950 or www.intimations-online.co.uk !National Announcements: email@example.com (contact to receive log-in details) The Bereavement Register: 01732 460 000 or www.thebereavementregister.co.uk The Bereavement Services Portal: www.iccm-uk.com The Much Loved Trust: 01494 431 864 or www.muchloved.com
The Bereavement Services Portal
Hearse and verse
On the road This month Peter Wyllie recognises the symbolic potential of roads when commemorating the life journey of a loved one
ife is a road, and like all roads our lives meander through changing landscapes, and we encounter other travellers along the way – some come and go while others continue to travel with us throughout our lives. The theme of roads is therefore very appropriate for funeral poetry and music, used as a metaphor for the journey taken by the deceased in life, and the destination now reached in death. Roads Go Ever Ever On Roads go ever ever on Over rock and under tree, By caves where never sun has shone, By streams that never find the sea. Over snow by winter sown, And through the merry flowers of June, Over grass and over stone, And under mountains in the moon. Roads go ever ever on Under clouds and under stars, Yet feet that wandering have gone Turn at last to home afar. Eyes that fire and sword have seen And horror in the halls of stone, Look at last on meadows green, And trees and hills they have long known. J R R Tolkien
There have been times when the direction of a person’s life hinged on a single fortuitous decision, or perhaps where fate has intervened to change the course of their life and, ultimately, its destination. In some life stories I have told, these events have been perhaps moving to a new job, meeting the right person or even setting up a business on their own. Robert Frost understood this in his poem The Road Not Taken, which I included in the August edition of Funeral Service Times. For some people of faith, they would see their life as being a simple resting place on the road of eternity. For them the destination is not death, but life beyond the grave, with a reward of eternal peace with their Lord. Life is but a stopping place, A pause in what’s to be, A resting place along the road, to sweet eternity. We all have different journeys, Different paths along the way, We all were meant to learn some things, but never meant to stay... Our destination is a place, Far greater than we know. For some the journey’s quicker, For some the journey’s slow. And when the journey finally ends, We’ll claim a great reward, And find an everlasting peace, Together with the lord Author unknown
For many a great part of the road of their lives is shared with a close travelling companion such as a spouse, and at their death the road can seem very lonely and empty. Perhaps others know of a verse that reflects this? I was not able to find one, and so I have written this simple poem especially for this month’s article. Together On the Road Together we held hands and walked along the road ahead. In gentle silence; or we spoke the dreams inside our head. We laughed, we loved; sometimes we cried we shared both joy and pain. Some days were sunny; brightly lit and others greyed with rain. Our love was strong, it kept us close No matter what the weather; No storm was strong enough to break The bond we had together. But now today, we are apart you are not at my side but in my heart you will remain my only love; my bride. Though for a while I know this road will never be the same, I’ll feel you always close at hand Each time I speak your name. Peter Wyllie I will often end a service by saying something along the lines of: “May the rest of the road of your life be made brighter because you shared a part of their road with them.”
Peter Wyllie is an independent funeral celebrant and a member of the AOIC. For more information please visit www.silverdove.org.uk or www.independentcelebrants.com
If you have found a poem that is particularly appropriate to a certain situation we would love to hear from you. Send your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Amspac Funeral Bags
Colourful Coffins has launched a new campaign to make it easier for bereaved families to recognise a genuine Colourful Coffin. Known as ‘Look for the Daisy’, the initiative has been prompted by the increasing number of colour picture coffins in the marketplace, something managing director Mary Tomes says may be causing consumers to be “missing out on [Colourful Coffins’] quality guarantee and service level.” The name ‘Look for the Daisy’ highlights the fact that a daisy logo is imprinted on every item that leaves the company’s Oxfordshire factory.
Presentation bag supplier Amspac Funeral Bags has just launched its latest product, the Bio Box Carrier. Made from sturdy paper fitted with gold ropes and eyelets, the Bio Box Carrier is finished with a matt lamination to provide maximum strength. Available in three traditional stock colours – burgundy, dark green and dark blue – the bags can be supplied in quantities of either 50 or 100 bags upwards, from the company’s large UK stocks. Free next-day delivery is included in the price. To request samples or more information, please contact the Amspac team. Information: 01892 752 130 or www.funeralbags.co.uk
Information: 01865 779 172 or www.colourfulcoffins.com
Auden Funeral Supplies
At Auden Funeral Supplies, manufacturing has always been at the heart of the company’s ethos. “Decades of experience allow us to design, develop and manufacture some of the most innovative, labour-saving and hardworking funeral equipment in the industry,” the company says. The new ‘Roll in Roll out’ trolley system is an example of this continuous development. It allows the safer removal of the deceased using an upright trolley system that will work in even the smallest of spaces, and enables the operator to use small elevators, which are becoming more common in modern care homes today. Information: 01924 402 080 or www.audenfs.com
In conjunction with its Polytainer manufacturer here in the UK, Fibrous Ltd has developed and launched the first 100 per cent biodegradable container. Retaining all the functional benefits of the HDPE Polytainer, the Ecotainer uses a revolutionary additive technology, which renders the finished plastic biodegradable (taking between nine months and five years to degrade) whether it is sent to landfill, buried in the ground or composted. The Ecotainer’s shelf life is indefinite and it requires no special handling. For samples and trial quantities contact Gemma Baty. Information: 0845 450 8935 or www.fibrous.com
J&B Plastics has introduced the Plough – an emergency folding snow shovel new for winter 2011. Designed with the professional driver or fleet operator in mind, the Plough will fit neatly and discreetly into hearses, limousines and removal vehicles. Manufactured in the UK from strong, durable, heavy-duty plastic, it is ideal for emergency use in snow and ice and strong enough for everyday yard, driveway and pavement clearing in the heaviest snow falls. “To ensure fast, efficient delivery to the funeral trade, J&B Plastics has a dedicated British sales helpline and can guarantee fast shipment of goods with FedEx,” the company adds. Information: 0800 779 7155
Attention to detail
Julie Bindel speaks to two of the many
individuals who have chosen to plan their funerals in advance, to hear about the reasons for their decision, and the crucial role of the funeral director in bringing their ideas to fruition
rnest Wistrich is 88 years old and has recently celebrated his 61st wedding anniversary with his adored wife. The couple have a son and a daughter, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Life is good, but for Ernest, it is likely to come to an end sooner rather than later – he has final stage heart failure and has requested that if he goes into cardiac arrest he should not be revived. “I have recorded a speech to play at my funeral, and have decided on the music, food and other speakers,” says Ernest. “I may as well take the opportunity to make sure everyone has a good time at my send off. I am prepared, and everyone I love knows I am dying, so why should I leave the second biggest event of my life, next to being born, to others?” Ernest is one of a growing number of people in the UK who are taking the lead away from loved ones and planning every last detail of their own service. But they could
not do so without the help of the funeral directors guiding them and being open to this increasingly popular way of doing things. For Bernice Sanders (not her real name), planning her own funeral means she will spare her children from having to do so, and will afford them some comfort in the midst of what will be dreadful grief. Bernice is 45 years old and is dying of a particularly aggressive form of ovarian cancer. She has three children, aged 18, 20 and 21, and cannot bear the idea of them having to make arrangements at the time of her death. “I don’t know how long I have got, but I want to make sure that absolutely everything is in place,” says Bernice. “When I contacted the [funeral] director he could not have been more helpful and understanding. At no time did he try to take over, or influence me in my choices. In fact I talked to him for ages about the finer detail, and asked his advice even on the arrangements he wasn’t directly involved in.”
Bernice has organised everything down to the last detail, including stationery (invitations as well as ‘thank you for coming’ cards for the children to send after the event), caterers, music, photography, transport, and even graveupkeep for the future. Michael France from A France & Son in London says that the most important way in which funeral directors can support people in meticulously planning their own service is to meet them face-to-face as soon as they take out a pre-payment plan. “We try not to do it by letter or phone,” says Michael. “We can get a real sense then of what the client wants, down to the last detail, and what is possible for us to either arrange or to help with.” After the client has taken out a particular price plan, and discussed arrangements with the funeral director, it is not uncommon, adds Michael, for them to return with additional requests.
“One lady has written into her plan that she arrives at her own funeral 15 minutes late!” “One lady has written into her plan that she arrives at her own funeral 15 minutes late!” he laughs. “She is always late in life and wanted the service to reflect this. We have had requests for coffins in football team colours and national flags, and one client even wrote her own eulogy. Until we get together with the client and discuss everything in detail we can’t provide as comprehensive a service based on their needs.” Indeed, some clients are very particular and the numbers of those planning their own service with meticulous care are increasing. “I do not want my family to have any doubt as to my wishes, and I want to help them avoid doing any unnecessary preparation when I die,” says Ernest Wistrich. “I have time to organise everything, down to the last detail, and there is a certain pleasure in knowing exactly what will happen at my own funeral, seeing as I won’t actually be there myself.”
However, it is not always plain sailing for funeral directors working with a client who has very definite plans for the service. “One client proved to be quite difficult because he wanted us to provide things which were impossible to arrange,” says one funeral director working in the Midlands. “He requested a burial site that was not licensed, a coffin that was unsafe to carry him in, and music we could not easily get permission to play. But we worked it out in the end, and the congregation appreciated that it was a funeral very much about the deceased because it was stage-managed primarily by him. The way we work is that nothing is too much trouble for our clients.” In the past, funeral directors would usually lead the way in offering products and services to clients, and would guide them in choosing the most appropriate plan for their needs. But increasingly, says Michael France, the customer is the one with definite ideas and wishes for their own bespoke ceremony.
“These days we are meeting more clients who have very definite ideas and instructions, often planned down to the most minute detail. With the pre-payment plan we can help guide them in terms of what they want to spend and what can be provided within that budget. Some wishes of the client can be met at no cost, such as who will speak at the funeral. When the client has gone to such trouble with arrangements, it benefits the loved ones as they are likely to get more of a sense of the deceased during the service.” For Bernice, knowing that she has been able to talk through every small detail with her funeral director means that she can almost predict any potential problems that might come up on the day and put measures in place to help rectify them. “My funeral director has even arranged for a grief counsellor to be at hand on the day. It will be hard for my children. Knowing this has all been taken care of means I can truly rest in peace.”
Celebrating the celebrant! Tara Christopher
explains the many advantages of utilising the services of a funeral celebrant, observed during her own working experiences
feel very privileged to work in the Midlands as a funeral celebrant. Coming to the role from a diverse career background, I chose to undertake my diploma through Green Fuse Funeral Training. It is through this training and my first few months of work that I have developed a real passion for the celebrant’s role, and the very real value it can add to the service that the funeral sector as a whole provides. As individuals we hope that throughout our lifetime we will not have to organise the funerals of our loved ones, however in reality we usually do – at least once – and when this happens it can be a real alien experience. Along with the services of the professional and committed funeral director, a celebrant can very much help to support the recently bereaved as they tentatively start out on the journey of planning the ceremony. As well as providing information, advice and guidance on putting together the content of the funeral ceremony and reassuring relatives that they really can have the type of service they want, a celebrant can be such a useful resource for poetry, literature and musical information. A funeral celebrant can assist a family in crafting a personal and tailored service that honours their loved one, and allows them to
say goodbye in the way that they wish and that is unique to them as a family. By offering the services of a celebrant and the additional resources they bring, I believe a funeral director can add real tangible value to the service level he or she is providing to clients. This is an opinion shared by Richard Ward MBIE DipFD LMBIFD, proprietor of Richard Ward Funeral Services Ltd in Leicestershire, who says: “In this age of choice, the funeral profession has woken up to the expectations of modern families and their realisation that traditional ways of marking the death of a loved one are not the only options. The role of the celebrant can be key to providing my families with a ceremony that reflects the life of a loved one appropriately, and in a memorable, meaningful and relevant way. “If this can be achieved, the families’ overall experience of the bereavement and the subsequent funeral is without doubt improved, which ultimately reflects well on their perception of their funeral director.” As all markets across the world become more competitive, the funeral profession is no exception. Using a passionate and knowledgeable funeral celebrant is a way of attaching a valuable USP (unique selling point) to your business. “In our experience, once people have attended a funeral that is individually crafted in collaboration with the family, and so truly reflects the life, values and beliefs of the person who has died, they often decide that is what they want for themselves and their loved ones. They will then return to the funeral director for this,” adds Simon Smith of Green Fuse.
My training taught me the importance of building strong, collaborative relationships with funeral directors. In my work as a celebrant, in addition to helping bereaved clients, I have found one of the most rewarding aspects is the fantastic working relationship that I have begun to form with my local funeral directors. I realise that when I am out meeting clients or delivering services I am representing the funeral directors themselves, as well as myself. Each and every one of the funeral directors I have been fortunate enough to work with has made me, as a celebrant, feel part of the team and an important contributor in providing an excellent service to their clients. Information Association of Independent Celebrants: www.independentcelebrants.com British Humanist Association: www.humanism.org.uk Green Fuse Funeral Training: www.greenfuse.co.uk/funeraltraining Institute of Civil Funerals: www.iocf.org.uk
Tara Christopher is an independent civil celebrant working in the Midlands area. For more information please call 07535 142 401 or visit www.tarachristopher.co.uk
Lest we forget
For the November issue, Rev George Callander dedicates his column to the memory of the many thousands of servicemen and women who have given their lives for their country
ovember has long been the month of remembrance. In many churches around the world the second day of the month is kept as All Souls day, with masses said to release souls from purgatory, speeding them to Heaven. In days gone by, priests would spend the day clad in black vestments, muttering away at mass after mass for those who had died in the preceding year. In some churches (even to this day) a catafalque was erected and a full, elaborate, solemn requiem mass sung for the repose of faithful souls. However, it is Remembrance Sunday – the Sunday nearest to the 11th day of November – that is perhaps the most well known day of this month in the UK; the day the armistice was signed in 1918, bringing to an end the horror and devastation of the First World War. Traditionally, two minutes of silence are held at 11am, to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the moment hostilities formally ended. In Britain, Remembrance Sunday is marked nationally and locally. Since 1919 ceremonies have been held across the country to remember with gratitude all who gave their lives in conflicts at home and abroad. Indeed, sadly, we still add names to the list of those remembered, because servicemen and women continue to die in the service of their country. Funds were raised to erect war memorials in cities, towns and villages across the country to remember those killed in the Great War. Memorials were also raised by railway companies, schools, universities, churches and even some department stores, to remember with gratitude the sacrifice of those connected to them. Later, additions were made to accommodate the names of those killed in the Second World War and later conflicts. On a national level, in 1919 a temporary Cenotaph (made from wood and plaster) was erected in London’s Whitehall to serve as a national focus of remembrance. That first remembrance ceremony laid the foundation for a tradition which endures to this day. The wooden Cenotaph (the word means ‘empty tomb’) was later replaced by the fine marble monument seen today, designed by eminent architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Still standing proudly in the midst of the bustle of Whitehall, the Cenotaph is passed daily by tens of thousands of people going about their business: able to do so not least because of the contribution of those thousands of people in whose memory the Cenotaph was erected. The ceremony conducted annually in Whitehall is repeated around the country at war memorials large and small; whether attended by six or 6,000 people, the ceremony loses nothing in solemnity or poignancy.
Sadly, the First World War has largely passed from living memory – certainly there are now officially no known living veterans of that terrible conflict and it will not have escaped the attention of those working in funeral care that the numbers of surviving veterans of World War Two are falling every year. I conduct the funeral services of veterans of all kinds – from Navy, Army and Air Force to Merchant Navy, Land Army and Civilian Support Services – every one of whom played their part, large or small, in getting this country through the traumas and uncertainties of war. It is important we continue to remember all those who served, fought and died for us. As a nation we are proud to remember all those who have gone before in the service of their country: proof if proof were needed, are the huge sums raised each year by the Royal British Legion ‘Poppy Appeal’. Many of us continue to wear our poppies with pride, and as a Royal British Legion chaplain I have conducted annual war memorial services and never cease to feel pride – not only for those we remember, but also when I see the crowds of people, young and old, gathering to quietly and respectfully give thanks. In recent years we seem almost weekly to learn of the death of service personnel, killed in action in Afghanistan. We have seen on TV news images of repatriation processions of our modern day war dead. Such images, although painful, help us to remember those who have gone before. It is a great tribute to the people of Wootton Bassett – the town which has proudly lined its streets in tribute to those service personnel whose coffins have passed through en route to be reunited with loved ones – that Her Majesty the Queen has granted the town the prefix ‘Royal’. Not only must we remember with gratitude the sacrifice made by our service personnel killed in action, but we must also remember with gratitude all that the people of Royal Wootton Bassett have done to raise the profile of remembrance and thanksgiving in our modern, busy world. I am always impressed to see Remembrance-tide displays in the windows of funeral directors’ premises up and down the land. It is my heartfelt opinion that anything which makes us pause and reflect on the sacrifice of so many men and women in conflicts down the years can only be a good thing. So, please, wear your poppy with pride and give thanks, because: “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”
Rev George Callander is a minister of the Liberal Christian UK Open Free Church. A bereavement specialist practitioner, speaker and trainer, George is also president of the Society of Bereavement Practitioners. Please visit www.gscallander.com and www.socbp.org for more information.
A walk to remember
A joyful celebration of life, the jazz funeral is a long-held tradition which seems to be enjoying new popularity â€“ in the US and the UK â€“ as Naida Ally discovers
“Exactly when jazz became an element in brass band funerals remains a matter of speculation, but autobiographical writings place the phenomenon in the early 20th century”
ommonly associated with New Orleans, the jazz funeral’s roots have been traced back to the Dahomey and Yoruba tribes of Nigeria, West Africa. The tribes were known to have practised services involving lively singing following the last rites of the deceased, and during the slave trade these traditions are believed to have filtered overseas to the Americas, and then down through generations. The jazz funeral continued to evolve with the change in musical style and ethnic demographic of Louisiana, with French and Spanish traditions and music being introduced, as well as a strong cultural influence from the growing African-American population in the South. The term ‘jazz funeral’ is typically used to describe a funeral service in which musical instruments, usually a brass band, accompany the funeral procession to the ceremony, then from the ceremony to the burial. Traditionally, during the first part of the procession dirges are played. The slow, somber music accompanies the deceased towards the burial ground, however it is the joyous send-off that follows that is the aspect which distinguishes the jazz funeral from most others. Once the body is separated from the procession, or ‘cut loose’ as it is customarily known in New Orleans, the band adopts a livelier, celebratory tone. The progression of music exemplifies the process of grieving for the deceased, laying them to rest, followed by a celebration of their life. In the past, musicians would usually wear a uniform, normally consisting of matching black band caps, black trousers and white shirts. Younger brass bands in New Orleans these days have tended to depart from this tradition, as over time the dress code became less formal. This is why nowadays it is not uncommon to see jazz funerals at which casual attire is worn by band members, however traditionalists have maintained authenticity, and would argue that it is more than the musical aspect that makes a jazz funeral what it is. Often in New Orleans, such funerals are held for those in the music or entertainment industry, for example Mantovani, the Anglo-Italian conductor who is credited by the British Hit Singles and Albums book as being “Britain’s most successful album act before The Beatles,” and “the first act to sell over one million stereo albums and six albums simultaneously in the US Top 30 in 1959.” Other famous jazz funerals have been held for the likes of world-renowned New Orleans jazz tubist Anthony ‘Tuba Fats’ Lacen; internationally known New Orleans chef and “Godfather of fried chicken” Austin Leslie; and international musician, songwriter and record producer Ike Turner, infamous for his turbulent marriage to former spouse Tina Turner. Bruce Boyd Raeburn, director of special collections and curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, explains: “Most of these funerals are sponsored by social aid and pleasure clubs or benevolent associations for the burial of their members, although the practice is also applied to honouring musicians and other civic leaders who are revered in the African-American community.” Having been commonplace in New Orleans since the mid 19th century, brass band funerals became known as ‘jazz funerals’ to those outside of New Orleans, due to the type of music played. “Exactly when jazz became an element in brass band funerals remains a matter of speculation, but autobiographical writings of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet place the phenomenon in the early 20th century. ‘Jazz funeral’ is basically a marketing term used by the Chamber of Commerce to appeal to tourists, although it has become standard usage of late,” says Raeburn. In New Orleans especially, certain native songs have become synonymous with segments of the jazz funeral, such as the spiritual Just a Closer Walk With Thee during the dirge, and the up-tempo ‘send-off’ When the Saints Go Marching In. The popularity of authentic jazz funerals in New Orleans took a slight decline in the last 30 years, however after hurricane Katrina the tradition has been somewhat resurrected. In 2010 as part of the five-year anniversary, returning residents took to the streets and held a symbolic jazz funeral, complete with a silver coffin to symbolise the laying to rest of Katrina and her aftermath. Interestingly, the jazz funeral style has spread further afield and overseas, where here in the UK its popularity appears to be on the rise. Jeff Williams, senior consultant of Jazz not Jazz music suppliers, explains: “I do about 30 or 40 [jazz funerals] a year. Whenever I play at a jazz funeral the same conversation always comes up: ‘My mum/dad was watching Live and Let Die, the James Bond Movie. He/she said: ‘When I die, that’s the way I want to go! I don’t want people to mourn my passing; I want them to have fun!’”
Eureka Brass Band playing a funeral for the Young Mens’ Olympian Benevolent Association, Carrollton section of New Orleans, Louisiana, 1958. Ralston Crawford Collection of New Orleans Jazz Photography, courtesy of the Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University
Image: Jeff Williams/Jazz Not Jazz
The 1973 film starring Roger Moore and Jane Seymour opened with a jazz funeral procession that remained in the minds of many viewers. Says Williams: “In my opinion the single biggest factor has been the James Bond film. The New Orleans funeral scene at the opening of the film is almost always referred to when a bereaved relative contacts us to arrange for a New Orleans Jazz Band to play at the funeral.” Along with reaching a broader audience through film and the media, there may be other factors explaining the increase in popularity. Earlier this year, a study entitled The Way We Say Goodbye, indicated a significant change in how the UK approaches the funeral service. The first study of its kind, it utilised information from the arrangements being made at funeral homes across the UK, as well as from the public. Funeral directors at the Co-operative Funeralcare reported a significant shift-change in funeral preferences in the last five years; they noted requests to have included “pink Cadillacs, a milk-float cortege, woodland burials and live jazz at the graveside. Mourners are watching firework displays, wearing bright colours, blowing bubbles and releasing balloons during funeral events.” These findings are backed by a new independent ICM survey, commissioned by the Co-operative Funeralcare, of 2,000 British adults. It revealed that more than half of the population (54 per cent) would prefer their send-off to be a celebration of life rather than a simple church service with hymns, and almost half of the population (48 per cent) are keen for their funeral to reflect their favourite hobby, colour, football team or music. These factors may serve to explain the increasing popularity of jazz funerals, both abroad and in the UK. Williams concludes: “Previous clients have found the addition of the band a great comfort and a way of lightening what can be a very moving and emotional time. We are constantly struck by how clients and friends of the deceased are grateful for an opportunity to smile and feel uplifted at a time of great sadness.” Information Jazz Not Jazz: 0208 761 8932 or www.jazznotjazz.co.uk
To our associates in funeral service, As many of you may agree, there is a continual bit of misunderstanding regarding many aspects of the pending Biocides regulation and how they affect funeral service. Recently, it has come to our attention that one such piece is with regard to the continued availability and use of Paraformaldehyde. Due to the belief by some that the use of such products is now banned, the Dodge Company contacted our Biocides and REACH regulatory consultant located in Harrogate and asked for assistance in researching this matter. As a result of their efforts, consultation was made with a staff person in the appropriate agency. The opinion has been offered that the use of both products can continue until the decision is handed down as to the status of the Formaldehyde itself. The reasoning behind this opinion is that although Paraformaldehyde may have a different CAS number, it is a derivative of the main chemical Formaldehyde for which a dossier has been submitted and accepted. Until a determination may be properly made regarding the main product, there can be no manner of determining the viability of a secondary or by-product. This dossier is now under review by the designated EU state of Germany. We understand that there may be additional matters raised as we continue through the Biocides process and can assure you that the Dodge Company will abide by all changes and communicate them to you as soon as we are made aware. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to visiting with you in the future. As always, should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at your convenience through the Dodge office or consult your sales representative. Kind regards, Craig L Caldwell Managing director Board of directors
Adrian D Haler Managing director, retired Board of directors, current
Built on eco-foundations Louise Hoffman asks Ecoffins office manager Chris Garland for an update on the development of the new, environmentally friendly warehouse and office buildings, which are being purpose-built for the company We last spoke in August for the Funeral Service Times ‘green special’, at which point you mentioned that building work on your new warehouse and office complex was well underway. How close is it to completion? The building is getting very close to completion. It was due to be finished in early November and you could say the builders have both met and missed this deadline. On the one hand the warehouse is already operational, but on the other there is still a fair amount of work to be done on the offices. The move-in date for this section is now the end of the year. Can you tell us more about the building itself, especially its eco credentials? The aim from the beginning of this project has been to make this building eco-friendly in three dimensions. What we mean by that is that it should be made with materials which a) use the least possible energy in their manufacture b) are sourced as locally as possible and c) combine to create a building that has the lowest possible energy consumption (and hence carbon footprint) it possibly can. Any other benefit we could achieve, for example by recycling materials currently on-site and making the building fit in aesthetically with its environment, would also be a bonus. Much of the ‘greenness’ of the new build is related to its two roofs. The warehouse will incorporate a living green roof of ivy and wild clematis, which grows from a very large gutter at the back of the building. It is estimated that the carbon capture of this living roof will offset the carbon produced in the manufacture of the steel frame within 12 to 15 years. The office roof will have solar panels which will generate approximately three times more electricity than the company needs for all its heating, lighting and other
power requirements throughout the year. This will effectively mean that the building is carbon negative to run, as well as earning the company money when it sells the excess back to the grid. The heating system is run entirely by a geothermal heat pump, which extracts heat from the ground outside the office and runs on the electrical supply generated by the solar panels mentioned above. The entire building has the highest standards of insulation and the warehouse is covered with locally grown cedar cladding. The logs for this were cut into planks on-site. This material has the twin benefits of helping the building blend into the landscape and also providing an extra layer of insulation. A 10,000 litre water tank has been installed for water harvesting purposes. This will provide water for irrigating all plants
on-site throughout any dry spells, and also grey water for flushing toilets and washing vehicles etc. Even when the new build is finished, we do not intend to stop there. The old office and warehouse will be demolished then crushed on-site, then used as hardcore for the new driveway. We also plan to plant over 1,000 trees and shrubs on the six-acre site this winter. How long did it take to plan, and who was the architect? The outline planning took less than six weeks to achieve, but this was simply for the external appearance including sizing and general layout. We had little idea at that stage that this was just the beginning of a very long journey. The initial design concept was a joint effort between William Wainman (Ecoffins
Far left: Work in progress Left: Cedar cladding Below: Attaching the green roof net
senior partner) and William Matthews, the site architect for Renzo Piano’s ‘Shard’ of glass in London. However, it took just over a year from this conceptual stage to satisfy all the building regulation requirements for a building of this size and complexity. What kind of interior will the warehouse and office staff enjoy? The offices are almost entirely open plan except for a showroom at one end and a few meeting rooms at the other. We have installed data and electrical cabling under the floor for at least 30 desks, so we hope this will be sufficient to cater for a couple of years’ growth! The packaging room in the warehouse will also have an integrated underfloor heating system. The warehouse is too large to heat economically, but is so well insulated that it is estimated it will never fall below 15 degrees centigrade, even in the coldest months of winter. How will the building help the company to improve its service offering? All the products will be under one roof for the first time in eight years. We are currently in the process of moving all stock from five separate warehouses in different parts of Kent to our new warehouse at Lion Farm. This will help us to improve our stock control even when producing a greater range of products. The showroom will also enable us to show new products to visiting funeral directors to gain their feedback at the earliest possible stage.
And finally, how does it demonstrate Ecoffins’ business success and its plans for the future? Our company has always believed in organic growth through prudent financial management. The fact that Ecoffins has been able to finance this project without overstretching itself
financially must say something about the health of the company. We remain immensely grateful to all our customers for their repeat business. As for our plans for the future, we do have some interesting and perhaps even transformative new products under development – all will be revealed in due course!
Remembering someone special The people we lose to breast cancer are irreplaceable. Donating in their memory to Breakthrough Breast Cancer is a way of taking the courage and commitment they showed in their fight against breast cancer and using it to change the lives of future generations. By giving in memory your clients will help fund our vital research and find better ways to prevent, treat and ultimately beat breast cancer.
For more information or to order collection envelopes contact our In Memory team. Telephone: 08080 100 200 Email: email@example.com Website: breakthrough.org.uk/inmemory Charity registered in England & Wales (No 1062636) and Scotland (No SC039058)
A new lease of life
Image: (left to right) Tom French, Mark Abbot and Jim Stargatt
Mark Abbot of J&J Maintenance Services explains the ways in which his company’s equipment repair and exchange services can support funeral directors in delivering excellence Readers will no doubt recognise your name from your advert, which has graced the classified pages of Funeral Service Times since day one, but they may not know how the company came into existence. Can you enlighten us? J&J Maintenance Services Ltd was established in 2001 by John Maxwell and Jim Stargatt, born of an idea that was hatched while John was lying in a hospital bed recovering from a heart attack. Observing all that went on in the wards, he spotted problems with the lifting equipment and trolleys that carried the patients. This prompted John and Jim to put their many years of engineering experience to good use and focus on offering a service and repair business to the funeral and hospital industries. With the seed having been sown, the business grew purely by word of mouth, and over time the customer base grew. I am John’s son-in-law, and I joined the company in 2006. The day-to-day running of the business was passed over to me in late 2007, and from there the company began to grow considerably; the first commercial premises it had secured became too small after only six months, and now we have relocated to another unit which is three times the size. The company also has three fully-equipped
service vehicles that travel the length and breadth of the UK at a moment’s notice. Anything that cannot be repaired on-site is returned to the fully-equipped workshop where a comprehensive repair can be completed. What is the ethos of your company? At J&J Maintenance we pride ourselves on providing a “proper, good old fashioned service.” We are committed to bringing our customers a personal, reliable, competitive, efficient service, always endeavouring to respond to breakdowns the same day if not the following day, without any call-out fees. How are you able to support funeral directors in their day-to-day work? J&J Maintenance offers a full on-site service and repair facility to funeral directors, public mortuaries and hospitals. We can tailor-make our service and repair package to suit any business – something that has led us to be successful in providing our services to a large number of independent funeral groups throughout the UK. Customer liaison is crucial and being honest with our customers has gained us their respect, and most of all, their trust.
We are fortunate to have a very good working relationship with the four major manufacturers in the UK. As a result, we are able to offer a part exchange facility to our customers whereby we can take any product as part exchange against items purchased. We may also purchase our customers’ surplus equipment. Can you tell us more about your portfolio of products available for purchase or part exchange? J&J Maintenance has developed a line of products which are of a very high quality at competitive prices. For example, highly durable nylon stretcher covers in black or maroon; corduroy covers; velvet bier covers; 1st Call folding stretcher bags in either durable nylon or a wipe-clean strong PVC (also available in black or maroon); rubber feet for stretchers; stretcher body straps; folding footplates – the list goes on! We also stock a large amount of second hand and reconditioned equipment that is for sale. How important is it that funeral directors keep their equipment in good working order? It is very important! The servicing and repair of funeral equipment seems to be a low priority for a number of funeral directors. It is a common misconception that since new equipment is expensive it will therefore last without any form of maintenance. One wouldn’t buy a new car and run it for 50,000 miles without changing the oil, tyres or brake pads, and the same principle should apply to your equipment!
Hydraulic mortuary trolleys require an annual service and LOLER inspection to comply with the Health and Safety Act. Some people think their annual insurance inspection is their LOLER certificate – it is not; it is just an insurance certificate which highlights faults, if any, and identifies what the trolley is. The service and LOLER inspection procedure that J&J offers is basically the MOT certificate element, but in order to be fully covered and insured you need the MOT element and an insurance certificate. LOLER requires an employer to show that a proper maintenance procedure has been followed in accordance with an examination scheme every 12 months for these trolleys. If an accident occurs and no procedure is followed then they could be liable to prosecution. Stretchers are used in all weathers and all conditions, to carry both the slim and, increasingly, the obese. The four main manufacturers are producing items to make dealing with bariatric cases easier and safer, but unfortunately there are those who continue to overload their current stretchers, and as a result they are causing damage to their equipment which is breaking under the stress. The stretcher then continues to be used and other components begin to fail because nothing is being serviced. Eventually it breaks and is resigned to the corner of the workshop before it makes its way towards a bin. Don’t bin it – let J&J Maintenance service and repair it properly! We use genuine parts and have developed pattern parts which are stronger and have been tweaked to prevent future component failure. While stretchers have no particular legislation such as LOLER attached to them, they do fall under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment legislation. In short, these regulations require that the equipment provided for use at your workplace is suitable for intended use; safe for use; and is maintained in a safe condition and in certain circumstances inspected to ensure this remains the case. If you require any piece of your equipment servicing and inspecting then please do not hesitate to contact J&J Maintenance Services Ltd. Which are the most common problems you encounter? The most common problems are when major component parts have worn unnecessarily through lack of servicing. Once equipment starts to wear out some operators become neglectful, which results in a shortened life span. An annual maintenance service and inspection programme by J&J Maintenance Services helps to keep equipment operating costs low and increase longevity. We have been told numerous times by members of the funeral profession that there is nothing more embarrassing than a piece of equipment failing in front of a family when their loved one is being transported away. The death of a loved one is a deeply distressing time, and if the funeral director arrives and nothing works properly it can make them look unprofessional. Finally, what are your long-term hopes for the future of J&J Maintenance Services? Our long-term hope for the company is that, despite this difficult economic climate, we are able to continue to provide a professional and reliable service to our current and prospective customers. We pride ourselves in providing a service that is value for money.
“One wouldn’t buy a new car and run it for 50,000 miles without changing the oil, tyres or brake pads, and the same principle should apply to your equipment!”
Gifts of life. Gifts of hope. CAFOD – the Catholic overseas development agency –
reflects on the importance of in memoriam donations for grieving families and their chosen charities
e are never more appreciative of the value and beauty of life than when we’ve lost someone we love. So it makes perfect sense that bereavement awakens in some people a deep and urgent need to celebrate and protect life. Over the years, many of our supporters have chosen to commemorate a loved one by making a donation in their memory, and there is a mutual benefit. Lots of families say they feel empowered by playing a part in our work with poor and marginalised communities in developing countries. Others say their loss has made them appreciate the basic things in life: essentials like water, food, shelter, healthcare and freedom; things which – sadly – are beyond the reach of millions of men, women and children in this world. Many support us because we were their loved one’s favourite charity and they’re desperate to keep their memory and values alive. While most people opt to make a oneoff gift in memory of their loved one, a growing number are choosing to create ongoing tributes. Five years of transforming lives through Candlelight Funds Our Candlelight Funds allow families, friends, colleagues, parishioners and pupils to join together to build a lasting memorial to someone special. This month marks the fifth anniversary of the very first funds. Since then, almost 350 tributes have been created by families and groups. Each fund is precious and unique: just like the person it commemorates. Some mark young lives
that were tragically cut short whereas others celebrate long lives lived to the full. People commemorate their loved one in lots of different ways, but everyone is united by their experience and a desire to do something incredible. Together, our Candlelight families have raised more than £417,000 since 2006; all of which has been used to help some of the world’s poorest people in almost 50 countries around the world. The funds have provided emergency care to communities affected by natural disasters and conflict and they also offer longterm support to those trying to overcome injustice or work their way out of poverty to build a brighter future for their children. Thanks to their donations we’re able to help people like nine month old baby Maria in Kenya… Baby Maria’s story: saving lives in east Africa The devastating drought in east Africa has left more than 10 million people needing emergency relief. We’ve already helped more than 250,000, including thousands of dangerously ill children. When Maria (pictured) was first brought to our clinic in Hula-Hula village, Kenya, she was severely malnourished. After several weeks on a special nutrition programme she’s gained weight but is still small for her age and will need ongoing care to recover. Across Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia, families in the most desperate circumstances are being given clean drinking water, emergency food rations and vital medical supplies thanks to families here in the UK, many of whom know only too well
Main image: Colombian coffee farmers by Paul Smith Inset: Baby Maria by Laura Donkin what it feels like to lose a loved one. They offer us their support because they truly understand the value of life. Offering comfort and hope We run a tight ship at CAFOD because we know that every donation can save or change a life. It’s important work and it doesn’t just give hope to communities in Cambodia and the 50 countries we work in: it also gives hope to the people whose gifts make it all possible. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank every Funeral Service Times reader who has forwarded donations to CAFOD; not just for your practical assistance but for the enormous support you offer to families in their darkest hour. If your clients are searching for a positive way to celebrate a life, please let them know that CAFOD is here for them. As an organisation born of people’s desire to reach out and make a difference, it means a lot to us to be able to help families through a difficult time of their lives. For more information about CAFOD or to discuss in memoriam donations, please call John Hook on 0207 095 5348, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cafod.org.uk/candlelight. Donations should be sent to CAFOD, Romero House, 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JB.
Give in memory to support Arthritis Care Arthritis affects around 10 million people of all ages in the UK. There are over 200 different types of arthritis and at present there is no cure for this condition. Each year Arthritis Care helps over 250,000 people by providing support and information through our free and professional services, these include; a freephone confidential helpline, our website and publications, as well as practical help through self-management courses. A donation made in memory of a loved one is a very special way of remembering them, and a valuable way to celebrate and honour their life. As part of In Memory giving we have the Arthritis Care Willow Tribute Fund. The fund is set up so that friends and family can continue to donate and contribute photos, stories and music online in memory of their loved one, whenever they wish. Arthritis Care can provide donation materials for your clients, and are always happy to answer any other questions you or they might have about giving a donation in memory. Please contact us at InMemory@arthritiscare.org.uk or on 020 7380 6540 for more information. Registered Charity Nos. 206563 and SC038693
Remembering loved ones The RAF Benevolent Fund discusses its new website, which allows the bereaved to share and reflect upon stories and memories of their loved ones
emembering loved ones who have passed away is incredibly important to us all – we find comfort in celebrating their life and sharing our happy memories with friends and family. To help relatives pay their tributes to those who have departed, the RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF) – the RAF’s leading welfare charity – has introduced a website on which stories and memories can easily be shared. The Friends and Relations website allows people to set up a memorial page celebrating the lives of family members who served in the Royal Air Force or its associated Air Forces, using both words and images. On the pages these memories can live forever, through each new generation. The site is free and simple to use and allows users to add three photographs and their own words and memories. Other friends and family members are free to add their own special thoughts about somebody already featured on the website, and while there is no charge, the RAFBF would value any donations that they would like to add in memory. Photographs supplied as small digital files can be added to a tribute page at no charge if using the forms on our website, and photographs supplied by post as original prints can also be added for a charge of £15 per photo to cover scanning and return (£7.50 will go direct to the RAFBF). The Friends and Relations site was originally the idea of two long-time friends and work colleagues, Hugh Hastings and Jonathan Haward, who both lost brothers
early in their lives – one through terminal illness, the other in a flying accident. Keen to share fond memories and photos of their brothers with a wide group of friends and relations, Hugh and Jonathan realised that other people might also welcome such a celebratory internet-based service. The Friends and Relations site is already proving popular, with a number of people adding their tributes to loved ones. More about the RAFBF The RAFBF provides practical, financial and emotional support to all members of the RAF family, from childhood right through to old age. The RAF family is made up of all those who are serving in the Royal Air Force; all those who have previously served; and their wives, husbands, partners and young dependants too. We’ve been here for over 90 years, looking after former and serving RAF personnel and their families. Today the RAFBF works towards the provision of a complete spectrum of care. It assists the needs of serving personnel through initiatives designed to reduce stress on RAF stations, and thereby relieving some of the burden on those at the front line. Examples include the £13 million spent establishing childcare centres at RAF stations across the UK, and the £11 million Youth Support Project, which is now providing new stateof-the-art play facilities and youth workers for young people on RAF stations. The charity also funds a Benefits and Money Advice Service, delivered at more
than 40 Citizens Advice Bureau branches, and confidential relationship support delivered in partnership with Relate. Both initiatives experience high demand. Being there for those who have left the RAF is an equally vital aspect of the RAFBF’s work. The charity supports families in distress through injury, disability or bereavement, by assisting with the purchase of a home, or buying a property outright through its Housing Trust. We also help homeowners in financial difficulty with the cost of house repairs and adaptations for disabled access. Mobility is an important area, as the servicemen and women of the Second World War generation enter their 80s and 90s. The RAFBF plays a central role in giving them back their independence by providing them with the mobility aids they need to lead happy, active lives. The RAFBF also prides itself on its provision of care services, offering a range of short-term respite care at three jointlyowned, short-term welfare break homes, and at its flagship welfare break centre in Sussex – Princess Marina House. We receive no government funding and rely totally on donations. To find out more about our work or to make a donation please visit www.rafbf.org or email email@example.com. And to view the Friends and Relations site, please visit www.friendsandrelations.com/partners/rafbf
Breath of Life… The British Lung Foundation is the only UK charity dedicated to funding research into all lung diseases, and working for everyone affected by lung disease. There are 43 lung conditions, from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to asbestosis and lung cancer. The charity supports people throughout whatever challenges they face, and helps them to understand and manage their condition by providing clear information in order to improve their quality of life. It also works for positive change in lung health by campaigning, raising awareness and funding world-class research. By focusing resources on providing support, and encouraging improvements in treatment and care, we aim to create a better future for people with lung disease and their carers. In order to do this we need to raise significant funds each year, so the support you can give by encouraging donations in memory to be made is of vital importance to us. Thank you for helping us to continue our groundbreaking work and our ongoing commitment to supporting anybody with any lung condition. If you need any help or advice, please call 020 7078 7919 or go to www.lunguk.org • British Lung Foundation, 73-75 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7ER • 020 7688 5555 • www.lunguk.org Charity Registration Nos. 326730/SC 038415
Rest in peace A tribute to some well-known individuals who have sadly passed away during the last month 30 September – Marv Tarplin (aged 70) Marvin Tarplin was an American musician and songwriter who was the guitarist for Motown group The Miracles from 1958 to 1973. A founding member and co-writer of the band’s biggest hit, The Tracks of My Tears, Tarplin continued to collaborate with band leader Smokey Robinson as writers on the latter’s solo hits, and toured with him up until 2008. Robinson told The Guardian: “Marvin was a brilliant guitarist whose music has always inspired me.”
5 October – Steve Jobs (aged 56) Steven Paul Jobs was an American inventor and entrepreneur known primarily as the co-founder, and later chief executive and chairman, of Apple Computer Inc. Credited with revolutionising no fewer than five different industries – personal computing, mobile phones, music publishing, digital publishing and tablet computing – with Apple, and the animated film market with Pixar Animation Studios, Jobs was nevertheless keen to cultivate an image for the former as a plucky, creative upstart against a bland Microsoft behemoth. “I wish Bill Gates well,” he once claimed, “I only wish that at some time in his life he had dropped acid or spent time at an ashram.”
5 October – Bert Jansch (aged 67) Herbert Jansch was a Scottish guitarist and founding member of ground-breaking folk group Pentangle. A leading figure in the British folk music revival of the 1960s, Glaswegian Jansch’s innovative, improvisational, jazz-inflected finger-picking playing style inspired a generation of young musicians, both within and outside of folk circles. The Smiths’ Johnny Marr described Jansch as “one of the most influential and intriguing musicians to have come out of the British music scene.”
16 October – Elouise Cobell (aged 65) Elouise Pepion Cobell was an American Indian activist who served as the lead plaintiff in Cobell vs Salazar – a landmark court case in which she successfully sued the government of the United States for billions of dollars plundered from Native American lands. Cobell, whose Blackfeet name was Yellow Bird Woman, passed away after a short battle with cancer.
16 October – Dan Wheldon (aged 33) Daniel Clive Wheldon was an English racing driver. The 2005 IndyCar Series champion and twice winner of the world-famous Indianapolis 500, Wheldon was relatively unknown in the UK, having left in 1999 to race in the United States, but a major star in his adopted homeland and statistically one of the most successful British drivers in motorsport. He was killed in a 15-car pile-up during the final race of the IndyCar season at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada.
18 October – Ion Diaconescu (aged 94) Ion Diaconescu was a Romanian anti-communist activist and politician. Jailed as a political prisoner by the Soviet-backed communist government from 1947 to 1964, Diaconescu continued to strive for democracy in Romania and co-founded the Christian-Democratic National Peasants’ Party in 1989 following the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Former Romanian president Emil Constantinescu said Diaconescu was “a symbol of communist resistance in Romania and eastern Europe.”
20 October – Sue Lloyd (aged 72) Susan Margery Jeaffreson Lloyd was an English dancer and model-turned-actress, best known for her portrayal of Barbara Brady in television soap opera Crossroads. Despite achieving her greatest fame as part of the long-running series, Lloyd was initially hesitant about the role, having previously appeared in a string of films throughout the 1960s and 70s that included Corruption, The Stud and Revenge of the Pink Panther and as a glamorous foil to Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer in spy thriller The IPCRESS File.
Image: Chris Barber
Events & Data
Events 9 November NAFD Environmental Advisory Group meeting, TBA www.nafd.org.uk
17 – 19 November Funéraire Paris le Bourget, Paris, France www.salon-funeraire.com
19 November WinterWillow Green Burial Awareness Day Barton Glebe Woodland Burial Ground Barton, Cambridgeshire www.winterwillow.org.uk
19 November NAFD Cornwall Area Federation dinner and dance TBA www.nafd.org.uk
19 November NAFD Sussex County Association of Funeral Directors annual dinner and dance Stanhill Court Hotel, Nr Gatwick
19 March 2012
1 May 2012
ICCFA Annual Convention and Expo Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
NAFD Devon Area Federation general meeting, TBA
Tanexpo BolognaFiere, Bologna, Italy
NAFD conference and annual general meeting Holiday Inn, Stratford-upon-Avon
19 – 21 April 2012
19 – 21 May 2012
OGR Annual Conference and Supplier Showcase Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, Washington, DC, United States
Asia Funeral Expo Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Hong Kong
Provisional deaths in Northern Ireland by month of registration, 2011
Source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
NAFD Board of Examiners meeting TBA
22 November NAFD Northern Ireland general meeting TBA
17 – 20 May 2012
23 – 25 March 2012
Monthly provisional figures on deaths registered by area of usual residence, 2011 Source: ONS
England and Wales
NAFD Scottish Area Federation dinner and dance Airth Castle Hotel, Airth, Stirlingshire
ENGLAND AND WALES
ENGLAND North East North West Yorkshire and the Humber East Midlands West Midlands East London South East South West
37,395 2,080 5,478 3,943 3,293 4,049 4,247 3,841 6,141 4,324
33,274 1,912 4,918 3,573 2,901 3,743 3,718 3,449 5,272 3,793
35,924 2,058 5,342 3,800 3,124 3,850 3,963 3,893 5,805 4,089
Non-residents of England & Wales
7 February 2012 NAFD Devon Area Federation general meeting TBA www.nafd.org.uk
9 – 11 March 2012 NAFD Yorkshire educational and social weekend TBA www.nafd.org.uk
Crowndeed International, Bowers Mill, Barkisland, Halifax, HX4 0AD MERCEDES 2003 3DR F/D Hearse, Black, (W210) 35000 miles 2000 6DR 280 Black, Grey Leather, 66000 miles 1985 4DR 123 Limousine Black, Blue Cloth, New M.O.T. 2002 6DR 22OD, Black, Low miles
£25,950 £17,950 £1,995 £15,950
VAUXHALL 2000 ‘X’ Omega 3DR Hearse, Black, Diesel 2000 ‘X’ Omega 6DR Limousine, Black, Diesel OR the pair for
£9,950 £6,950 £15,950
FORD 1999 MK9 Dorchester, 33000 miles 1992 MK8 Cardinal B/D, D/D, 62000 miles 1995 MK9 Dorchester, Black, 2.9 Cosworth, A Bargain 1995 MK9 B/D, D/D, Black, 38,000 miles
£6,950 £2,950 £1,750 £3,950
VOLVO 1999 5DR Hearse, Black 1997 5DR Hearse, Black, low miles 1997 6DR 960 Limousine, 63,000 miles
£9,950 £8,950 £ P.O.A.
DAIMLER 1991 D.S. 420 Limousine, new M.O.T., under restoration
ROVER 1998 Rover 6DR Limousine, braking for spares, all parts available. FIRST CALL VEHICLES 2006 Vauxhall Vectra, Diesel Estate, Diesel, full deck facility 2005 Vauxhall Vivaro Van, White, Decks etc
Delivery of our Chrysler 300 Hearses and Limousines is now May 2012. These vehicles now have pan-european type approval. Andrew Naylor 01422 377840
Graham Mosey 01435 813244
BYRAM UK REPATRIATION & HELLIWELLS FUNERAL SERVICE Experienced Funeral Directors providing a Professional and Caring Service Complete UK Coverage Embalming Service Airport Transfers All Documentation Undertaken
01282 870898 Lands End to John Oâ€™Groats - No Problem
Voice on the highstreet
Voice on the highstreet Patrick Cook of
Pat Cook Funeral Services, Lincoln What’s the biggest challenge you face on a day-to-day basis? Apart from traffic and manic drivers? The hours in the day: I need 32 and got short changed. Thank you, God!
How long have you been in the profession? Easy questions first – I like that. I started in the business on the 1 October 1991. After a morning of induction, I walked into the funeral home only to be met by the manager thrusting a set of keys into my hand and saying: “We have a coroners’ removal; the lad upstairs will show you what to do.” So I hit the ground running, so to speak. I am now 20 years into the business and wondering where the heck it went. How has it changed since you started out? We have seen great changes within the industry, but technology and choice stand out. The internet has opened up a whole new world for our clients, who are therefore now more aware of the options available to them. We are also all aware of the increase in eco-funerals and the vast array of coffins on offer, and the rise in requests for non-religious ceremonies. Despite the changes – and I am sure there will be many more – we, as funeral directors, create: we create what is, for the family, a special service, and nothing new will deter from that.
What do you enjoy most about your job? That’s an easy question. This may sound strange, but even after 20 years my greatest enjoyment is sitting in the hearse making our way back to the office after a funeral. Everything has gone well and the family are delighted with all we have done. The feeling of satisfaction is something I will never want to be without. What are your plans for the future? Well, not retirement. I’ve got another 20 years left in me – though I doubt if my wife and son would agree with me. Our website is proving popular, so I have no doubt that this is the way forward. The internet is indeed a wonderful tool, and will, I am sure, throw open some wonderful ideas that will someday be the norm. We have not had the opportunity to send ashes into space yet, but we live in hope (come on, you Trekkies!).
How do you meet the needs of the bereaved? A good listening ear is vital. If you understand what the client is trying to express, you can give them guidance on anything from probate to financial assistance. We should have a good knowledge of all these things. We are the professionals and, as such, cover a wide range of expertise – or should at least be able to guide our clients to a reliable source of information. Always remain calm and assure your client that nothing they might request is new – even though it might be to you – and nothing is a problem. Who works alongside you? We are a family-run business. My wife, Margaret, plays an integral part in the day-to-day running of the business, while my son Kevin and I oversee arrangements and the preparation of the deceased. I’m very hands-on, and this infuriates my wife, who smacks me across the back of my hand when I don’t put papers back where I found them. If you would like to appear on this page, please send an introductory email to Naida Ally at firstname.lastname@example.org