Looking forward to meeting you all

words: Jo Parker, National SAIF President
Jo Parker

What a fabulous weekend we had in Edinburgh for the March AGM and my installation as your National SAIF President 2022/23. Thank you to Mark Porteous for a sterling two-year post and a great AGM and Banquet weekend.

For those that don’t know me, I am Jo Parker, a working funeral director with almost 30 years’ experience in the profession. I started work with my parents’ company, Abbey Funeral Services in Tonbridge, Kent, in 1993 and joined the SAIF National Executive in 2013.

I am passionate about the independent sector and believe that SAIF is the trade association for the small independent and family business; a trade association where your voice will be heard, regardless of the size of your company, and I believe that my company is testament to the ethos of SAIF. We are a small single branch business that has produced three National SAIF Presidents through my parents (Jim and Chris Parker) and now myself. The size of our company hasn’t had an effect on our voices within the profession and I believe that is a real credit to SAIF.

My presidential year has started well with a dedication service at Huntingdon Crematorium, the first crematorium in the country that has been built by a Town Council and has fully electric cremators. A really lovely, peaceful crematorium which has had a lot of thought put into the detail.

I was honoured to attend the BIE banquet in Durham, a fantastic event. The Sunday morning was especially touching with a candle remembrance service to members that have passed and an opportunity to personally light a candle and remember a loved one. Thank you to Bobby and Phil for a wonderful weekend.

At the time of writing this I have a quiet couple of days to catch up on my ‘everyday work’ before the diary is full of travels around the country, starting with the SAIF Golf Day, where I quite literally have to sing for my supper, and then moving on to the regional meetings from Durham to Leeds, The Wirral to Dudley, Wales to Somerset just to name a few. I am really looking forward to meeting our members from across the country and am so thankful for a great team that will be taking care of the business while I’m ‘out of the office’.

My theme for my year is ‘professionalism and community’. We are often referred to as an ‘industry’, but we are a profession, and the last couple of years

has shown just how professional the funeral directors are in the UK when faced with a pandemic and extreme restrictions on our way of working. We also go above and beyond within our community and as I travel to the regionals, I would love to hear what you do outside of your funeral work for your community and celebrate it with our fellow members.

My presidential charity for the year is Papyrus, a charity that works hard in the prevention of suicide in children and young adults. Suicide is the largest cause of death in young people in our country and these are all preventable deaths.

We have all had to look after families who have lost a child or young member of their family to suicide, it is a heart-breaking situation and charities like Papyrus can really make a difference in educating those that work with young people and providing a ‘hopeline’ phone service to those that are having suicidal thoughts.

We hope to have a webinar with Papyrus – details will be available in your SAIF updates. I very much hope you will help support me in this great cause and in June, Brian Hart from SAIF Insure and a handful of his intrepid hikers, both funeral directors and associates, will be walking the West Highland Way in support of Papyrus. A Just Giving page has been set up and I ask that you give as much as you can to this mighty challenge.

SAIF AGM and Banquet will be held the first weekend of March 2023 at the Spa Hotel, Tunbridge Wells and I hope you can join me from the Friday to meet and chat with some of our Associates Members that will be in attendance and then for the AGM and banquet on the Saturday, not to mention the notoriously comical Sunday morning ‘hand over’ to our next president.

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