SAIF President: On the road for a good cause

words: Mark Horton, National SAIF President
President Mark Horton

I wanted to focus this month’s article on two areas, with the first being to hugely congratulate the team that completed the President’s charity walk this year for The Honeypot Children’s Charity.

Brian Hart, Brian Stocks, Gary Staker and my wife Becky Horton all set off on 15 July at 4:10am to aim to complete the 42-mile Lyke Wake Walk, in North Yorkshire, in one day, with me as the support vehicle.

With dawn just breaking and with calm weather conditions, considering the time of day there was a very positive mindset by all of the team. Oh how the weather gods soon changed that! Within a couple of hours, the weather became horrendous and they were hit by strong winds that threatened to blow them off some sections, thunder storms with fork lightning while they were on the highest points on the moors and torrential rain that soaked them through even their waterproofs, causing all to have early symptoms of hypothermia by the end.

I was ready for them at designated checkpoints with warm drinks, porridge and flapjacks and encouraging words, but I am not even sure having the King himself there to welcome them would have been enough encouragement for the battle they were all going through. However, these six checkpoints where they stopped for five to 10 minutes did seem to give them the boost they needed to continue and I was so proud and grateful for everything they were putting themselves through to raise money for my chosen charity. I believe during the walk there were some choice words for certain sections of it, mainly by my wife, however certainly nothing I could put down in writing.

The team were absolutely amazing with the support they gave each other during it, and I know Becky said she will never forget that camaraderie. They completed the walk in 16.5 hours and raised a huge amount for the charity, and completely smashed the original £5,000 target. Thank you all so much for your generous donations as your support not only helped drive them through on the walk but will make a huge amount of difference to the child carers that the Honeypot Children’s Charity is there to support. I must make a special mention also to thank Alan Jose from The Westerleigh Group. Alan pledged a massive amount per mile to the group upon completion of the walk which will nearly double what had been raised already. I really cannot show enough gratitude for this generous donation.

Recently my wife and her sister also did a charity bake sale in addition to my mother-in-law and Becky’s sister’s mother-in-law also doing some charity raffles at events, both for Honeypot, and between these three events another just over £500 has been raised. The support from everyone this year really is overwhelming and I cannot thank everyone enough.

The second subject I want to touch on this month is direct cremation. Recently you will have seen a lot of articles and emails from SAIF talking about direct cremations due to the toolkit SAIF has brought out to help us all when it comes to discussing this with our families and working out how we can offer it within our own businesses in a way that works for us.

Direct cremation is something that the majority of funeral directors would prefer not to talk about or discuss and this is not for the reasons the media thinks, that we all want to make huge profits from funerals, but because of the impact we all know direct cremation can have on a loved one’s family.

The surge of advertising surrounding direct cremation from the big companies that offer this however has now meant it is more important than ever to have the knowledge surrounding these types of funerals and also the offering to be able to assist families with this if that is what they truly want. At the end of the day, who is better to advise a customer than their local independent funeral director who has local knowledge and an actual face and premises that they can come in and see.

If we can offer customers a direct cremation service we can provide them with extras that may help them in the grieving process, such as viewing in the chapel of rest, giving them chance to say goodbye, possibly a direct attended service where the family can sit and listen to music and also a local cremation taking place, not transporting their loved one to a different part of the country to be cremated. This is not something that the direct cremation companies can offer and this makes our offering unique in itself.

We have found that when talking with families who have requested direct cremation, they have mostly wanted a lot more than what a ‘direct cremation’ would include so have added these on or in a lot of instances ended up having a full funeral service. This shows to us how ill informed the public is on direct cremation by the big companies swamping the market with advertising and why we need to have that knowledge to be able to let them make an informed decision as to what funeral service they would like.

I will leave you this month with a note about direct cremation – keep the conversation open – and one about 42 mile walks – don’t do it!

Until next time,


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