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Heroes of ‘much-misunderstood’ industry celebrated

A parade of alternative hearses, a flower-arranging contest, a dove release and a performance by the green fuse choir kicked off The Good Funeral Awards, the funeral sector’s inaugural awards ceremony.

Trophies were presented in 14 different categories at the event in Bournemouth in September, which aimed primarily to: “sing the praises of the unsung heroes of a much misunderstood industry,” according to funeral expert and editor of thegoodfuneralguide.co.uk Charles Cowling.

The brainchild of Brian Jenner, organiser of the Bournemouth Joy of Death Festival, the awards were a collaboration between the festival and Charles’s The Good Funeral Guide website.

Nominations from the public were put before an expert panel drawn from across the funeral sector to decide the winners. “We’ve been moved by the stories of very special funerals organised by outstanding members of the profession,” said Brian.
Winners received foot-high coffin ‘Oscars’ designed by Sunset Coffins, in recognition of their outstanding service to the bereaved.

Funeral celebrant Belinda Forbes gave a rousing speech to get the occasion off on a celebratory foot. She told the audience of more than 100 guests that the awards offered an opportunity for those involved in the funeral industry to be proud: “Instead of words like dismal, unpleasant, sombre and depressing we can unashamedly use words like devoted, enthusiastic, dedicated and inspirational,” she said.


Winners

Most promising new funeral director
Bryan and Catherine Powell, Powell & Family, Worcestershire

Embalmer
Mark Elliott, Mark Elliott Funeral Services, Northampton

Eternal Slumber award for coffin supplier
Greenfield Creations

Most significant media contribution to the understanding of death
finalfling.com


Crematorium attendant
Peter Smith, Gloucester Crematorium

Best internet bereavement resource  
Beyond Goodbye

Blossom d’Amour award for funeral floristry
Fairmile Florist, Christchurch

Funeral celebrant
Karen Imms, Gloucester

Cemetery
Bidwell Woodland Burials, Devon

Gravedigger  
Bernard Underdown (pictured above), Kent Natural Burials

Funeral directors
Simon Smith and Jane Morrell, Green Fuse, 
Rupert and Claire Callender, The Green Funeral Company

Best alternative to a hearse
Paul Sinclair, Motorcycle Funerals

Book
Making an Exit, Sarah Murray

Lifetime achievement award
Barry Albin-Dyer
 

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