SAIF President: Doubling up

Mark Porteous

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a year since we celebrated Jim Auld’s AGM and banquet in Glasgow.

I never thought that when I was given the honour of becoming your SAIF National President, a global crisis would dictate that I would not have the opportunity to carry out the normal duties expected of me during my year in office as President.

Therefore, due to the pandemic, it was agreed by the National Executive that all of the officers would extend their period in office. Most of you, of course, will already know your officers, but I thought it would be beneficial to remind members old and new of who we are.

In this edition of SAIFInsight, as well as offering a bit about my own background, I will introduce Jo Parker, your 1st Vice President; in a future edition I will introduce 2nd Vice President Mark Horton. Both Mark and Jo share the same professional values as I do and their commitment to SAIF over the years has been second to none.

Mark Porteous, National President

I started my career in the funeral profession in 1989, working for a large national company before I decided I would prefer to work for myself and purchased a small business in Edinburgh in 1995. In 2006, the Porteous family opened the first funeral home under our own name and I have since expanded my business by adding a further five funeral homes within Edinburgh and the Lothians.

I work closely with my wife Yvonne, my son Grant and a small team of dedicated individuals who, like the family, all demonstrate the same ethos and commitment of care, service and professionalism.

I strongly believe SAIF is the only trade organisation that can truly represent independent funeral directors and since I became one myself, I have been a proud member of SAIF. I joined the Scottish Executive seven years ago and was appointed Scottish President shortly afterwards. The role of Scottish President allowed me to participate in the meetings of National SAIF and three years ago, I was given the huge honour of being asked to become 2nd Vice President of National SAIF.

Continuing into the role of National President last year has been rewarding but also frustrating! Due to COVID, I have not been able to meet members face to face, but hopefully as the year progresses and with the benefit of the earlier lockdown measures that were imposed and the implementation of vaccines, I will finally be able to meet as many of you as possible.

Jo Parker, 1st Vice President

“I have been an elected member of SAIF’s National Executive for the past seven years and am just about to go into my second year as Vice President (due to COVID) – I’ve been in the funeral profession for 27 years and both my parents (Jim and Chris Parker) are past Presidents. Our family business, Abbey Funeral Services, is based in Tonbridge, Kent, and we are a small single branch company.

Although now both retired, my father Jim still attends the funerals of people he has known, and my mother Chris has a deep involvement with training and education in the wider profession, serving the Independent Funeral Directors’ College as first Director of Education and then Principal for many years. In addition, my mother Chris and I are involved in running the company’s unique bereavement support programme, Friends Together, a charity we established in 2012 that cares for more than 1,500 members in our community.

I have been a representative on the Death Management Pathway Group of Kent Resilience since last April and in January this year we had to open additional mortuary storage in Kent for the first time during the pandemic. We are just starting to see things calm down thanks to lockdown.”

Walking challenge

Before I close, I’d like to remind you about my President’s walking challenge to raise funds for my chosen charity Winston’s Wish. It will be held on the weekend commencing Saturday June 12. I would be grateful if you might consider sponsoring someone taking part or giving a donation(s).

Donations can be sent via the JustGiving page or contact the SAIF Business Centre.

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