A year of support

words: Mark Horton, 2nd Vice President of SAIF
Mark Horton

It has been 15 months now since I was appointed as 2nd Vice President and I think that time has gone past in a blur as it has for most of us.

So far in my role of supporting the President, Mark Porteous, and our future President, 1st Vice, Jo Parker, this has mainly equated to Zoom calls and emails (not ideal for a technophobe like me) rather than meeting people face-to-face and chatting, which is much more my style. However, in this time I have learnt a lot myself on new legislation and how to implement it within our business with much help from the team in the SAIF Business Centre, which has been at the forefront of communication throughout the pandemic.

Comments I have read on social media channels have seconded my belief that SAIF really has led the way for its members during the pandemic, and also for non-members who have been asking for advice on these platforms. As a company, we found the restrictions difficult at first. It was not only a physically tiring time but also stressful and mentally challenging to find that balance between keeping everyone safe, adhering to guidelines and putting the families first.

As funeral directors, we all know that our main priority is the family and making sure that they are supported and cared for just as their loved one resting with us is being cared for. To have to tell them they cannot do certain things or that the numbers who can attend the service are reduced goes against everything we know. At each of these twists and turns it always seemed as though we were the ‘bad guys’ as we were the ones to be the bearer of bad news on behalf of all the different organisations and elements that we arrange and facilitate.

When many people in England were furloughed, which I do not deny caused them a lot of stress, funeral directors were working more and under such difficult circumstances that the stress we have all dealt with is unprecedented and somewhat unnoticed outside the profession. I cannot praise all our members enough for how we have dealt with the pandemic and urge anyone who needs it to seek help and support for the toll this may have taken on their mental health. Asking for help is always a sign of strength, not weakness.

As restrictions are now easing, I will soon get the opportunity to do what I do best and become a social butterfly again, maybe more of a moth than a butterfly. I am looking forward to getting out and meeting members again while doing quality inspections (one of my other roles) and at regional meetings, and it goes without saying how much I am looking forward to Mark’s banquet at the AGM in Edinburgh in 2022 for a whole weekend of meetings and events.

I cannot promise I will be meeting anyone on the golf course, as Tiger Woods I certainly am not, however I will be in the lounge or bar talking about motorbikes, kayaking, vintage trucks and, according to my wife, anything else that takes my fancy that day! I look forward to seeing many friendly faces, old and new.

I am proud to be part of SAIF, not just for the roles I now do for SAIF, but I am proud to be a member and for what we all stand for together.

As a group of independent funeral directors, we cover the whole country and together we are strong. We support each other while supporting our families with the upmost care, respect and dignity at the highest standard that should be expected. I am excited by the future and, with the support of SAIF and all of its members, by what we can achieve together.

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