Once seen as the quirky province of the industry’s ‘progressives’, the Good Funeral Awards – the ‘Oscars’ of the bereavement care world – now embrace all the elements.
FSJ sits down with the great and the good at this year’s ceremony…
Funeral poverty up as costs rise again
The average cost of a funeral in the UK has risen again. The Royal London National Funeral Cost Index 2017, published in partnership with The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), puts the average at £3,784, up 3%, while SunLife’s annual Cost of Dying report says funeral costs have risen 4.7% in the year to £4,078, up by more than 70% in a decade.
How families cut funeral costs
According to insurance provider SunLife, which has just released its annual Cost of Dying Report, almost half of those who have organised a funeral have cut back on some aspects to keep costs down.
Top of the list for cutting costs is the coffin, with more than one in three families who cut back saying they went for a cheaper option.
New way to have crucial 'death' conversations
A new website is encouraging people to create a plan for their funeral and share it with friends and family.
The site – huunuu (say it out loud) – lets users build a ‘virtual funeral bucket list’ by uploading and adding ideas and pictures. It’s completely free to users.
Popstar opens children’s memorial garden
Former Spandau Ballet star Tony Hadley opened a special children's memorial garden at Dignity-owned Lichfield Crematorium.
The garden is called Violets in Bloom after Violet Mornington, who died of a rare blood disorder in July 2013 at the age of just five.
Ashes to water
Water can be a peaceful final place to lay the cremated ashes of a loved one, evoking a sense of freedom and release, and offering a sense of comfort for those left behind. Small wonder it features on many people’s funeral wish list….
More choice could pay off
A survey commissioned by Colourful Coffins suggests that funeral directors may not be giving older people as much choice as the younger generation when it comes to choosing a coffin for a loved one.
The company said its YouGov Omnibus survey of more than 2,100 18 to 70-year-olds showed a quarter of those over 70 would opt for cardboard if choosing a personalised picture coffin for a loved one, and just 8% of people aged 18 to 24 would do the same.
Death considered most difficult topic
Conversations about death are considered among the hardest to have and the most avoided, according to research by Co-op Funeralcare.
Telling someone a loved one has died, telling a loved one about a life-limiting illness or offering consolation after someone has died are the conversations people fear most...
Funeral singing tailored
An innovative agency is offering a bespoke funeral singing service to help create a personalised celebration of life.
Founded by Briony Rawle and Penelope Shipley, both professional singers, The London Funeral Singers agency comprises around 50 vocalists, covering all musical genres and styles, and all have had to audition...
Family business recognised
Independent family business Button & Family Funeral Services has won a Big Heart award for the Southeast in the National Family Business Awards.
The gongs recognise the level of service provided by family-run businesses that really care about their customers.
Village of sacrifice
In the heart of rural Derbyshire a village stands as a monument to both tragedy and sacrifice…
New home for Unsaid messages
Some of the most heartfelt ‘goodbye’ messages are now available to view online – and site visitors can also leave their own message for someone special.
Associations unite on regulation
Funeral directors from across Scotland came together at a conference in Stirling to pledge to work with the Scottish Government on introducing regulation to the sector.
The pledge follows the passing of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016, which includes the introduction of a statutory inspector of funeral directors, regulations governing the profession and the possible licensing of funeral directors.
Funeral directors sent to the Tower
A funeral for a relative of a Tower of London employee took place at the historic site.
New president wants to ‘make a difference’
Regulation and the Social Fund Funeral payment are just two of the key issues singled out by SAIF’s new national president as key for funeral directors.
Sharing the cost
Peter Toulson’s funeral wasn’t particularly unusual. It took place in a chapel at Leeds's Lawnswood Crematorium, and included a mid-range coffin, Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve, and tributes and stories from friends. However, it was paid for people who were pretty much strangers.
Glasgow has poorest life expectancy
Scotland as a whole has the poorest life expectancy of any of the UK nations, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with Glasgow showing the lowest of any area.
Scotland recorded 1,177 deaths per 100,000 of population in 2015, compared to England's rate of 989.6.
Crazy Coffins at the Southbank
Bespoke coffin company Crazy Coffins made a special appearance at London’s Royal Festival Hall.
A dozen of its creations – including a ballet shoe, a skip and a Viking longship – were on display as part of the Belief and Beyond Belief festival running at the Southbank Centre throughout 2017.
Sharing approach builds community
A family funeral firm in Country Durham has developed a programme of community activities that gives their business a social focus.
Valerie Greenwood: obituary
Valerie Greenwood, one of the best-known funeral arrangers in the southeast has passed away.
Valerie, a linch-pin of Surrey’s Alan Greenwood & Sons Funeral Directors, collapsed suddenly while at work, and died later in St George's Hospital Tooting. She was 64.
The Resurrection shuffle
A landmark legal case has put body preservation process Cryonics in the spotlight. But what is it, will it work and is it the future…?
Dignity launches nationwide direct cremation service
Dignity plc is launching a nationwide direct cremation service at its 44 crematoria.
Called Simplicity Cremations, the service will be a simple, low-cost unattended cremation – the type of low-key service chosen by David Bowie for his funeral early last year – and will be priced at £1,495.
Hymns fall from favour with over 50s
New research by financial services company SunLife has found that 82% of people over 50 don’t want a hymn at their funeral.
The same survey also found that Always look on the bright side of life by Monty Python is the song most would choose.
Joanne makes awards final
Joanne Hutsby, a partner in Gillotts Funeral Directors, Nottingham, was named as a finalist in an award scheme aimed at celebrating women in business.
Joanne made a shortlist of three in the Female Executive of the Year category of the Women in Business awards run by her local newspaper, the Nottingham Post.
Coffins create community
A coffin-decorating club in New Zealand has done more for its members than just helping them to save money on their final farewells...
Funeral debt nears £150m
Funeral debt in the UK has risen to £147m, according to a new report, as people borrow from friends and family or the bank to fund the last wishes of loved ones.
Free photography session for independents
Funeralbooker is offering independent funeral directors a free professional photography session to boost their marketing appeal.
Jo makes business awards shortlist
Jo Loveridge of Albany Funerals, Maidstone made the 22-strong list of finalists in the 14th annual NatWest Everywoman Awards, which celebrate female business owners.
An eclectic line-up of events and activities took place at Sutton House in Hackney East London throughout October, encouraging people to reflect on life, death and the journey between the two. Mary Carmichael investigates …
FPA dealing with hundreds of cases
The Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) says it is dealing with hundreds of cases a year – eight to 10 a week – helping families to trace pre-paid funerals.
Book offers chance to create personal messages to pass on to loved ones
The loss of close family, together with a friend’s diagnosis, inspired a swimming teacher from Cambridgeshire to come up with the idea for a book that lets people share personal messages and memories with their family and friends, and even future generations.
Ian continues green drive
Ian Hazel is continuing his quest to make his eponymous business as green as possible.
Death comes to the Fringe
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (5-29 August) will be featuring several shows coming under the umbrella of Death on the Fringe.
Co-op first to sign enhanced pledge
Co-op Funeralcare has become the first funeral firm to sign up to an enhanced Fair Funerals pledge to improve the way funeral directors’ prices are displayed online.
Supplier 'improves employees’ lives'
Julian Atkinson, MD of coffin company JC Atkinson, recently visited the Bangladesh home of supplier Oasis Coffins, and has agreed new deals to expand production there.
Family award for Anderson Macguire
Anderson Maguire Funeral Directors has won the health and welfare title in the Family Business United Awards (FBU) 2016.