President Matthew Barber welcomed almost 90 attendees to the Park Tower Hotel, Knightsbridge and, with other members of the Executive Committee, provided updates on the Association’s recent activities.
Matthew thanked members across the region for the many offers of assistance following the Grenfell tower tragedy, when there had been concerns that the local contract holder might be overwhelmed with the requirements to provide appropriate services and facilities. The strength and value of Association had been very evident. The willingness of so many firms to put the care of the deceased and bereaved before commercial considerations had been a source of great pride.
The Executive had recognised the popularity of the education events offered to members and planned to provide more and more readily accessible opportunities for member firms and their staff. The possibility of regulation of funeral service would place an increasing importance on education and training, so improved access for staff at all levels had been identified as a very desirable benefit to local members. Single topic seminars and short updates would be offered throughout 2018 in conjunction with District meetings. Education sessions would be subsidised heavily to remove cost barriers.
Service standards of West London Coroner Service continued to be of concern to local members. The meeting was informed that Senior Coroner Mr Inyama had been suspended since October 2016, but the Acting Senior Coroner Mr Chipperfield now had left to take up an appointment in the north of England. The new acting incumbent was Sarah Ormond-Walshe. LAFD continued to monitor service levels and raise issues on behalf of members.
LAFD had raised concerns about the growth of price comparison websites and the potential for commercial businesses to become the gateholders to funeral services and drive down standards. NAFD were supporting the initiative to establish a service directory website to provide information to the public about the high quality services offered by its members in each area.
Members were updated about recent relevant legislative developments and changes to health and safety guidance.
LAFD had received reports from members that some hospitals now were refusing to provide any information about the presence of implants, fixions etc. It was reported that various schemes had been suggested to assist with identifying potential problems for crematoria, particularly by the British Institute of Embalmers, and a partial solution was demonstrated in the form of a hand held scanner.
NAFD President Alison Crake provided members with highlights of the debate at the recent NAFD national meeting, at which a hot topic had been Funeral Planning and the impact on members of the sales practices of some plan providers.
NAFD continued to lobby for improvements to funeral benefit payments, both in respect of financial sums and a more fair application of eligibility criteria.
The proposed changes in death registration processes, including the introduction of Medical Examiners, continued to be a prime focus for NAFD. Alison reported that the changes now were scheduled for introduction in April 2019.
Alison reminded members of the personnel changes in the enhanced Head Office team.
As Chairman of NAFD’s Board of Education, she was delighted to hear of the continued support for the education of staff by London member firms and praised LAFD on its continuing commitment to the education of those involved in funeral services.
Members were reminded of the NAFD AGM and Annual Conference, to take place in Durham from 17th to 20th May 2018.
The meeting included a Presentation of certificates and prizes to students successful at the April examination of the Certificate in Funeral Arranging and Administration. In addition to certificates, the students were the first to receive the new CertFAA lapel badge, which will be sent to all alumni shortly.
President Matthew and Education Committee Chairman Barry Pritchard presented certificates to:
Victoria Kibble (of Lodge Brothers) – who also was awarded The President’s Award, for the highest mark in the examination – Katy Fuentes (MK Ginder & Sons) and Nicola Cocks (PJ King), all of whom attained Passes with Distinction.
Passes with Credit were achieved by Rebecca Grey, Debra Jacques and Susan Allen (all CPJ Field & Co), Jo Guthrie and Yvonne Fernandez (Lodge Brothers), Sharon Chapman (PJ King), Christopher Gillard (Dignity) and Susan Parperis (Harold Wood FS).
Samantha Wraight (Haven FS) and Mark Hansford (MK Ginder & Sons) also were present to celebrate their success.
Four students were unable to attend, but congratulations also go to Joanne Lance (PJ King) and Kim Lindsay (DA Lindsay) – both passed with Distinction – and Angela Cook (Lodge Brothers) and Anthony Pearson (Rowland Brothers), who both had attained a Credit grade.
As is traditional, the meeting was followed by a very convivial dinner, for those able to stay.