A final thought

words: Paul Bowley, National SAIF President 2017/18

My year as President has been a very busy one as I travelled around the country representing the independent funeral director. Terry and I have attended 13 Regional Meetings, which included Wales and Scotland.

Along with Davina, I have represented SAIF at banquets for the BIE, BIFD, NAFD, AOIC, LAFD and the ICCM. We attended two crematorium openings, two new branch openings, Education Day, The National Funeral Exhibition, Good Funeral Awards and Funeral Planner of the Year (FPOY). I visited seven independent funeral businesses and two associate members Bradnams and Colourful Coffins. We were invited and attended Stibbards & Sons 150th anniversary, the Welsh Christmas meal and West & Co’s Christmas party.

I was interviewed on TV and radio, presented numerous certificates for the IFD College and had some interesting meetings with the NAFD and SAIFCharter.

One of the main issues this year has been the start of the regulation and licensing of the funeral profession in Scotland, which has brought SAIF and the NAFD to work closely together. I would like to thank past President Paul Allcock and SAIF Scotland for their work as this progresses.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May, will require us all to be more accountable when handling personal information.

As more and more people go online, Golden Charter has introduced LocalFuneral.co.uk, which is for the independent funeral director and proving a success.

There have been new beginnings with the departure of Ronnie Wayte and the introduction of Golden Charter’s new CEO Suzanne Grahame. As you all know Linda Jones left SAIF after last year’s AGM and Claire Day joined us at SAIF HQ.

In October, two members of my staff, Donna and Shayne, my son Daniel, two friends and I jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet, free falling 5,000 feet, and raised £6,500 for my chosen charity the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Mark Horton, from Hortons Funeral Directors in Hull and a member of the SAIF Executive committee, will also be jumping this year for the BHF.

Thank you to Golden Charter for the donation from FPOY, Gary Neil for SAIF and Brian Hart for the associates, for the money raised at the golf day and all those who have donated towards my charity.

I was delighted to see so many members, including new members, at this year’s AGM, along with our kindred associations and guests. We had information on GDPR from Golden Charter’s Louise Love and Alison Wilson, the FPA from Graeme McAusland, Dementia Friendly businesses from Vicky Walker and Chris Parker, and the launch of SAIF Care from Catherine Betley.

A meeting was also held by the SAIF NextGen Group with a presentation by the fingerprint man, David Gosling of Legacy Expressions.

Entertainment was provided with the resurrection of Elvis on Friday night, drag queen Dave Lynn on Saturday before the meal, and Suprema in the evening. All three made it a memorable weekend.

I would like to thank our associate members for their continued support and sponsorship throughout the year and at the AGM, along with our main sponsor LocalFuneral.co.uk It is important to us as Independents to be able to pick up the phone or the SAIFInsight magazine, and find a professional company for help when we need it.

A huge thank you to Terry Tennens for his help and guidance, Claire Day who organised her first AGM along with Corrine, Sam and Angela for all their help over the past year and my fellow Executive members and Past President Paul Allcock, who took on the role of Government Liaison Officer.

We, as independent funeral directors, must carry on doing what we do best, to care and look after the families we serve and help those families through the funeral arrangements and beyond and be a big part of the communities we live and work in.

Our profession does not stop at 5pm and start again the next morning; it does not close at the weekends or bank holidays; it carries on dealing with bereaved families 365 days a year.
Our profession carries on in the events, activities and fundraising you as funeral directors do for your community and are proud to do.

We have all seen many changes over the years in our profession; I remember when I started as a coffin maker using a handsaw, hammer and nails. Today, coffins are being produced by factories with modern machinery. We have seen the introduction of bamboo, wicker and cardboard coffins. Transport from our four-legged friends, the horse, and hearses, to Austin Princesses to the new streamlined vehicles today.

We are no longer just funeral directors; we are event planners just like for weddings. When a family comes to us we arrange a date, a venue, vehicles, a time, a minister, an organist, a choir, verger, service sheets, pew cards, memorial books, press notices, donations, flowers, music, video tributes and a venue for catering. We don’t supply wedding dresses, but we do offer an array of different coffins, and we also organise repatriation, gravediggers, headstones and, unlike a wedding planner, we usually only have a week or two to do it in.

As members of SAIF we have a great education programme through the IFD College and a great quality assurance programme. I believe we are ready for any changes that happen within our profession and I believe our next generation is ready for those changes.

Be proud of what you do and continue to do as independent funeral directors.

Thank you for allowing me to be SAIF President and a big thank you to my fellow directors and staff for your support; without them this would not have been possible.

It has been a pleasure to represent independent funeral directors at the highest level and I wish incoming President Alun Tucker and SAIF Chief Executive Terry Tennens the very best for 2018/19.

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