Education Day 2017 speakers

This year’s SAIF Education Day, on Wednesday 1 November, will centre on the topics most relevant to independent funeral directors right now. The full-day event, running from 9.30am until 4.30pm, will include talks from a range of organisations which affect Independents’ work, and an even wider array of companies will be exhibiting.

Brian Hart, SAIFInsure

Some 23 years ago, Brian founded SAIFInsure in partnership with SAIF and its Executive, at the time with the hope and desire to build an insurance scheme that not only was the broadest in terms of its coverage, but founded on the SAIF principles of a first-class personal service being provided.

One of his proudest achievements in 37 years in insurance was leading SAIFInsure to become one of the two largest insurance schemes for the funeral profession in the UK.

During the 23 years, he has seen the funeral profession change quite considerably while his own profession has seen similar changes with consolidations between companies. The one element that is a constant in his mind at least is the need for the personal service and the ethos of care.

While he never aspired personally to run his own business, it did become clear to him over the past year or so that the best way to safeguard the interests of his clients was to ensure that the decisions made that affected them and the service being provided to them were within his control and that of SAIF.

Unicorn IB Ltd (the IB stands for Insurance Brokers) was formed to ensure that SAIFInsure and the membership will continue to receive the same core values that Brian started with 23 years ago and he believes that, with the support of SAIF and the membership once again, this will be achieved.

The SAIF Executive Committee has fully endorsed the new SAIFInsure scheme, under the stewardship of himself and his company, and it is his intention to build and grow the scheme with the support from members and to ensure that members receive the best service possible.

Cheryl Paris, Scottish Government

Cheryl Paris leads the Scottish Government Burial and Cremation Legislation Team responsible for implementing the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016. The Act will modernise the legislative framework for burial and cremation in Scotland and implement the recommendations of Lord Bonomy’s Infant Cremation Commission and the Burial and Cremation Review Group. Cheryl also has policy responsibility for death certification, hospital post-mortem examinations and anatomical examinations for medical research.

Gavin Faber, Partner, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors

Gavin is a Partner in the Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team, specialising in disputes involving complex trusts and challenges to Wills.

These disputes frequently arise from a breakdown in the relationship between executors/trustees and beneficiaries, or breach of duties by executors and trustees. A large part of his practice also includes bringing and defending professional negligence claims against advisors, including those arising from poorly drafted Wills and trusts, and failure to give proper tax or investment advice.

He particularly focuses on a client’s objectives before designing a strategy to best achieve them at the minimum cost. He will always consider alternatives to court proceedings and, as an accredited mediator, understands the best way to use mediation.

Fatima Uzzaman, Head of Social Fund Policy, Department for Work and Pensions

Fatima heads a small team of policy makers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), leading on the Department’s policy for social fund benefits including funeral expenses payment, sure start maternity grant, social fund budgeting loans, and the cold weather payment.

During her civil service career, Fatima has worked in a number of roles across Whitehall including policy, strategy and communications. She joined DWP in October 2016.

Fatima is leading the current reform of the funeral expenses payment scheme, and leads on devolution policy of the social fund benefits to the Scottish Government.

Kevin Sinclair, MBIE

Kevin has been a second-generation embalmer for the last 30 years. His father Allan Sinclair is well known and respected in the funeral profession.

To date, Kevin’s career has encompassed almost all aspects of the funeral arena, but in 1990, he decided on a career in embalming and qualified in 1992. He has worked for the Co-operative and Dignity funeral services and has embalmed more than 40,000 cases. In 2005, he joined GT Embalming Service Ltd and up to 2012 was the sole embalmer for Lodge Brothers Funerals.

Over the years he has worked in many varied situations including being part of the Global Disaster team in the Comoros Islands following an air crash disaster.

He has also embalmed in Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands for forward repatriation on behalf of GT Embalming.

Kevin is also an examiner for the International Examination Board of Embalmers and in 2007 became an accredited tutor. In the same year, he began the London School of Embalming with his fellow tutor Maria New. In 2011-2012, he had the honour of holding the office of the National President of the British Institute of Embalmers.

Robert Rowntree, Vice President Operations – Kenyon International Emergency Services

Kenyon is the international leader in worldwide disaster management, providing pre-incident crisis planning and post-emergency response services on behalf of the world’s foremost companies.

Robert Rowntree joined Kenyon in 2001 and has been involved in a wide variety of deployments worldwide. He led Kenyon’s response in Namibia in 2014 and Tripoli, Libya in 2010, as well as responding to incidents in Milan, Italy; Port au Prince, Haiti; Resolute Bay, Canada; and Algeria. Robert has supported numerous repatriation operations in areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Christmas Island.

For more than 30 years, Robert has worked toward ensuring total support for families. As such, he has undertaken extensive projects around personal effects. Robert believes that supporting families is one of the most important elements of an operation. He has a passion for providing true and honest information and treating affected loved ones with respect and dignity.

Before joining Kenyon, Robert worked in the funeral industry for 25 years. He is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. Robert has held the position of National President of the British Institute of Funeral Directors and the Cooperative Funeral Service Managers, and is an active member of the Emergency Planning Society.

Additionally, Robert is a qualified tutor and trainer. He recently achieved a BA (Hons) in business management and administration. Robert is regularly asked to speak at conferences, organisational seminars and workshops on topics around disaster management and operations and currently serves as a guest lecturer at a number of UK universities on post-graduate programmes.

Natalie McKail, Inspector of Funeral Directors in Scotland

Natalie McKail is a qualified and trained Environmental Health Officer, starting her career in public service more than 20 years ago at Aberdeenshire Council.

On joining City of Edinburgh Council in 1998, she held a range of management positions, including leading teams responsible for the introduction of licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation, Landlord Registration and Licensing Standards.

Afterwards she became responsible, as a Senior Manager, for the Environmental Health function, which undertook health and safety and food safety inspections throughout Edinburgh.

She was then asked to lead the Mortonhall Improvement Programme on publication of the Dame Elish Angiolini report on infant cremation practices, and reported directly to the Chief Executive, Dame Sue Bruce.

Natalie also had responsibility for a range of services, including Mortonhall Crematorium, the city mortuary and citywide burial grounds.

She was appointed in April as Scotland’s first Inspector of Funeral Directors by Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell.

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