Stronger when we work together

More than 200 members are expected to congregate at Harrogate for the SAIF Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 24-26 March to hear about the latest developments in the independent funeral sector, discuss the issues of the day… and have some fun.

SAIF Chief Executive Terry Tennens believes the AGM, held at The Old Swan Hotel, is a valuable forum for the profession to come together to raise issues and share their ideas, and to show that we are stronger if we work together. This is particularly pertinent with the big issues that independent funeral directors are now facing across the UK.

Terry said: “The funeral profession is witnessing a period of unparalleled change, with new legislation and competitive pressures challenging our world.”

Those in Scotland will be bearing the brunt of new regulation that is being developed by the Scottish Parliament through the Burial & Cremations Act 2016, which will require funeral directors to be licensed, and therefore inspected.

And you can be sure that the authorities in Westminster, Cardiff and Stormont will be looking at how this develops, with the potential to roll out regulation in their own countries.

Terry added: “SAIF is generally pro regulation, but it’s what type of model of regulation that we are concerned about. We are partnering with the National Association of Funeral Directors on this issue to ensure the regulation is not heavy-handed and puts too much of a burden on independent funeral directors.

“That’s why it’s important to come to the AGM to hear what SAIF has been doing as the voice for independent funeral directors in this space, and let people raise their concerns about these matters.”

Other challenges that will be discussed over the weekend will be the rise in direct cremations and the recent trend of local authorities moving into the funeral market.

Terry added: “The AGM will provide a good forum to find out what is happening across the UK in our members’ areas and to an update on what SAIF is doing regarding these challenges.

For example, we are very much in talks with councils to discuss the best way forward to produce a level playing field for all, and stop anti-competitive measures.”

The theme of building resilience is personified in the opening keynote talk on the Friday afternoon by Gordon Reid, who will share his inspirational story from illness to becoming world number one wheelchair tennis champion and double gold Paralympian.

After the formal AGM on the Saturday there are two educational seminars on succession planning and marketing, which will provide valuable insights on strengthening businesses performance and resilience, and delegates can relax with a cheese and wine event in the afternoon before the banquet in the evening.

Terry said: “We know that all our members have busy lives, and the AGM and banquet is a great opportunity for us to all come together in an atmosphere of fellowship and support, and to enjoy a relaxing time.

“The weekend is all about listening and learning from each other, and there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss issues with SAIF staff and members of the Executive Team during the weekend.

“I’d be delighted to meet with members over the weekend, so if you have a specific issue you’d like to discuss with me please send me an email and we’ll see if we can fix up a meeting.

“We’ve got a challenging future ahead of us in the next few years, so it’s important we all come together – the stronger we are together, the better position we will be in to meet these challenges.”

Did you know?

The 200-year-old Old Swan in Harrogate was used as the setting for the late-1970s film Agatha, starring Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave, about the famous disappearance of crime author Agatha Christie.

In 1926, Christie left her Berkshire home and disappeared for 11 days, promoting a nationwide police search. She was eventually discovered as a guest at the hotel registered as Mrs Teresa Neele from Cape Town. She never gave an explanation for her disappearance.

No wonder The Old Swan in Harrogate is now ‘notorious’ for its atmospheric and sometimes hilarious murder mystery weekends… and members will get a taste of this when they put their detective skills to the test on the Friday evening.

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