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‘Quality and breadth’ of attendees key at award weekend

“I’m going to put this award in the window of my standard cul-de-sac home so the neighbours think I’m even more weird than they already do!” said winning funeral celebrant Barbara Millar. 

Organised by Brian Jenner and Charles Cowling, author of The Good Funeral Guide, the dinner and presentation were part of a weekend in Bournemouth, where those who work with the bereaved came together to network and to share experiences and expertise. "It's all about good funerals and great funeral people,” said Charles.

Presented by actress Pam St Clements, best known as the late lamented EastEnders character Pat Butcher and much-praised for Pat’s deathbed scenes, the awards gave some recognition to areas of a profession not often in the limelight. All nominations came from satisfied clients, with the eventual winner decided by a panel of funeral experts.

The weekend included a cemetery walk and death café discussion sessions complete with coffin biscuits, which took place in a yurt in the hotel grounds.  New wooden ‘pebble’ design coffins – designed by Davina Kemble and constructed by Vic Fearn Ltd were revealed.

There were also talks on memorial tattoos, voice techniques for funeral public speaking, personalised garments for the grave and psychedelic chemicals as tools to assist in the existential issues of end-stage cancer. 

Those attending spanned newcomers and old hands, with secular celebrants mingling with the religious, people travelling down from Fife and Manchester and “old school undertakers talking to progressives”. Charles described the quality of attendees as “stunning”.

“It’s not just a natterfest,” he added. “It does a useful job of work in connecting people.”

Winners

Most promising new funeral director:
Poppy Mardell
Embalmer:
Liz Davies
Coffin supplier:
Yuli Somme, Bellacouche
Most significant contribution to understanding of death:
Jean Francis
Crematorium attendant:
Andy Barlow, Colwyn Bay
Best internet bereavement resource: 
Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds for Compassionate Friends’ film Say My Name
Funeral floristry:
Heather Gorringe, Great British Florist
Funeral celebrant: 
Barbara Millar
Cemetery:
Henley Woodland Burial Ground
Gravedigger:
Stuart Goodacre, Horncastle, Lincs
Best funeral arranger:
Dee Besley, Rosedale Funeral Home
Funeral director:
John Harris, T Cribb & Sons
Greenest funeral director in the Association of Green Funeral Directors (AGFD):
Leverton & Sons 
Greenacres Woodland Burials Green funeral director:
Rosie Grant, Natural Endings
Lifetime achievement award:
Paula Rainey Crofts, Heaven on Earth

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