CBCE 2018

in association with:

The Cremation Society of Great Britain

The Cremation Society of Great Britain

The Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities

The Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities

Papers & Speakers

Monday 11th June

The Digital Opportunity
by Leona McAllister, BA, Chief Commercial Officer, PlotBox

Considering the backdrop of digital transformation of programs across UK councils and the acceleration of G-Cloud, Leona will evaluate the approach to the new digital consumer and how to meet their expectations. This presentation will cover:

  • Consumer demand for information
  • Modern consumer behaviour and buying processes
  • Trend for seeking technological solutions in areas that were previously the domain of paper or face to face interaction
  • Developing pipelines of talent – how to bring the best calibre people into the industry when reliant on paper and outdated processes
  • Digital change management and the step by step journey

Leona is a Co-Founder of PlotBox and has worked with cemeteries and crematoria worldwide to create the more advanced, integrated software and mapping solution on the market.

Reforming the Law and the Dead: Insights and Practical Guidance
by Dr Heather Conway, LLB, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast

In December 2017, the Law Commission for England and Wales announced that ‘a modern framework for disposing of the dead’ was a chosen topic for their 13th Programme of Law Reform. Acknowledging that the current law is ‘unfit for modern needs’ and, in some instances ‘out of touch with the public’s expectations’, the Commission announced that it would aim to create ‘a future-proof legal framework that brings the existing law into line with modern practices’.

This paper looks at how this might develop: what areas the Law Commission will focus on, its core objectives, and the key stages in the consultation process before final recommendations are made and put to Government so that the law can (finally!) be changed. It will suggest ways in which key stakeholders and participants in this event can feed into and shape the process- while pointing out any limitations on what might be achieved here.

Dr Heather Conway is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research focuses on the substantive laws surrounding the fate of the dead and who has decision-making powers at various stages. Particular areas of expertise include family disputes surrounding funeral arrangements, their underlying reasons and how courts resolve them; who ‘owns’ post-cremation ashes; the legal status of funeral instructions; and family conflicts around exhumation and commemoration of the dead. Heather has written and presented extensively in these areas, and is the author of The Law and the Dead (Routledge, 2016).

Grave Concerns – A new project exploring the management and maintenance of cemetery space c. 1700-2000
by Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Human Osteology, University of Sheffield

This presentation introduces plans for a new collaborative project in which a team of archaeologists and historians seek to examine the processes of management and maintenance of cemetery space in England since the 18th century. The project draws upon oral histories, archival resources, folklore, research conducted by antiquarian scholars and archaeological evidence to document and examine practices of grave digging, burial ground maintenance and funerary curation of human remains over the past 300 years. In addition to illuminating the understudied role of the living in construction of places of the dead, it is hoped that this study will contribute to a new evidence-base for contemporary debates about the heritage significance and long-term preservation of our historic cemeteries and enable a timely reflection on the long-term causes of, and potential solutions to, an impending crisis in availability of suitable burial space in England. By working alongside the FBCA in this project we aim to generate research of value and significance to funerary practitioners and cemetery managers in addition to supporting the wider appreciation of the heritage significance of our funerary landscape. Our research findings will comprise the most focused and comprehensive academic evaluation of the processes and personalities that have influenced funerary provision in recent times.

Lizzy Craig-Atkins specialises in the analysis of human remains from archaeological sites and studies funerary practices of the last millennium in the UK. She has a particular interest in the study of practices used to manage and manipulate the dead body. She is currently undertaking a project to examine the 700-year-old charnel house at Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell, Northants and collaborating with archaeologists and historians to explore interactions with the body over the last 300 years.

Tuesday 12th June

NOx in the City
by Tony Brookes, BSc (Hons), Group Sales Manager, Facultatieve Technologies Ltd

Tony will be taking a look at what may be next on the horizon with regards to the future of abatement of cremator flue gas emissions.

Having qualified as a chemical engineer, Tony’s early industrial experiences were gained from a chemical plant operations environment prior to working for a leading air pollution control company supplying a variety of flue gas abatement systems.

Tony joined FTL 25 years ago in early 1993 as a member of the Technical Department. Some 4 years later he moved to Technical Sales, resulting in his involvement with the global sales of FT cremation and abatement systems throughout the world.

The cremation industry – an all encompassing survey
by Steve Gant, Crematoria Director, Crematorium and Memorial Group &
Simon Cox, Head of Insight and External Affairs, Crematorium and Memorial Group, and
Tom Johnson, Managing Director, Trajectory

Steve will talk about the industry in which we all work and the changes we are facing at an increasing speed. What has driven the change and how has that affected how we serve our clients? A wholesale survey of the industry has been conducted over many months by Trajectory, a specialist survey company, which has been commissioned by Dignity to show an independent view of what clients and funeral directors think of the crematoria in the UK.

Steve has worked in the cremation industry since February 1983. His first position was at Yeovil Crematorium in Somerset working for the local authority, which started as a summer job! He was a cremator technician, chapel attendant and gardener. After 5 years at Yeovil he moved to Beckenham Crematorium which was privately owned. He managed the crematorium for 5 years before becoming a Director of the company which also owned and operated a funeral home and some commercial property. Having sold the company to SCI in 1997 he was offered a role with responsibility for 10 crematoria. Following a management buy-out in 2002 and being a wholly British owned company since then, Steve is now the Crematoria Director and has the privileged responsibility for 46 crematoria and 20 plus cemeteries across the UK. Never a dull day!

Simon’s short presentation will contextualise the background to the research that Tom Johnson, Managing Director of independent research agency Trajectory will be presenting. A fast changing funeral industry where transparency simply means cost, no accounting for quality, or reference to what consumers want, or indeed understanding consumer needs.

Simon, Head of Insight and External Affairs at Dignity, is one of the UKs leading authorities on funeral research, responsible for commercial and academic studies exploring:

  • Creation of the UK’s market leading funeral costs reports.
  • Inadequacies of state benefits.
  • Implications of losing a partner.
  • Value of faith and community in funerals.
  • Funeral Plans - the need for stronger regulation.
  • Direct cremation and possible impact on grief.
  • Quality and standards in the funeral industry.

Simon sits on various funeral working groups in Westminster and Holyrood.

Tom will report on the first consumer research into what the public values most with regard to cremations. It turns out that they most value a secluded moment at the crematorium and not to feel that they are on a cremation conveyor belt, with other people waiting to start their own service. Therefore, time per cremation service is vital.

Our original research will provide output from analysis from extensive qualitative and quantitative research conducted with both types of our consumers, the bereaved and funeral directors.

Tom is Managing Director of Trajectory, an insight and foresight consultancy. In his career Tom has led numerous projects researching the funeral sector, including for Dignity, Royal London and the FBCA. These include researching public and commercial perspectives on crematoria and experiences of bereavement, including the short and long-term impacts of losing a partner.

His wider work has included multiple projects exploring end of life finances, including funeral poverty, end of life financial planning and savings depletion during retirement.

The Changing Face of a Profession – Funeral Directors in Modern Times
by Natalie McKail, Inspector of Funeral Directors

Natalie will describe the current landscape for Funeral Directors in Scotland in relation to the introduction of a regulatory role and new legislative requirements. In addition she will provide an update on the current work of the Inspector of Funeral Directors and consider the next steps for regulation.

Natalie McKail was appointed the first Inspector of Funeral Director in Scotland in July 2017 after a twenty year career in local government. Natalie’s background in Environmental Health led her to a variety of management roles at the City of Edinburgh Council, from the introduction of licensing for HMO’s and landlord registration to overseeing one of Scotland’s largest food health and safety inspection programmes. Natalie’s career in local government culminated with a senior Executive role, overseeing a range of services including the bereavement, environmental health, registration and local community planning services, with a stated commitment to the delivery of high quality services responsive to customer needs. Natalie was also concurrently the Chief Executive’s Senior Responsible Officer for the Mortonhall Improvement Programme on publication of the Dame Angiolini report, and had a dedicated support role for affected parents throughout that difficult period. Since taking up the role of Inspector of Funeral Director, Natalie has been committed to understanding the current opportunities and challenges for funeral directors and those operating in the sector who provide care for the deceased or support for the bereaved. Natalie is also committed to significant collaborative working with colleague as to the future direction for regulation, and welcomes opportunities to debate the issues relevant to that progression.

Cremation in Scotland
by Robert Swanson QPM, HM Inspector of Crematoria Scotland, Scottish Government

The aim of this presentation is to inform delegates of the background on issues at Scottish Crematoria which brought about significant changes including Robert’s appointment as HM Inspector of Crematoria, and will include an update on matters currently being progressed.

Robert will also discuss the remit of his role and duties undertaken since his appointment in March 2015 including a summary of the various complaints and enquiries carried out, as well as the findings of inspections undertaken.

Robert Swanson was appointed to the role of HM Inspector of Crematoria Scotland in March 2015 following a brief period of retirement from the police service. During his service he performed the role of Senior Investigating Officer on numerous murder and other serious crime investigations, and was involved in a number of high profile cases.

As a uniformed Inspector he served at Lockerbie following the atrocity in December 1988, and in December 2004 following the Boxing Day Tsunami he was deployed to Thailand as a Senior Investigating Officer for UK Police with responsibility for Disaster Victim Identification.

In 2004 he was awarded the Queens Police Medal for distinguished service.

Ministry of Justice Update
Judith Bernstein, MA (Oxon), LLM, Joint Head of Coroners, Burials, Cremation and Inquiries Policy Team, Ministry of Justice

Judith will provide updates from the Ministry of Justice on coroner, burial and cremation law and policy.

Judith Bernstein has an MA in Modern History from St Anne’s College Oxford and an LLM from University College London. She qualified as a solicitor in 1981.

Judith started her Civil Service career advising the Social Security and Child Support Commissioners before transferring to an administrative position at the Judicial Studies Board, and then to a policy role in administrative justice. In her current role, Judith provides advice to Ministers, coroners, burial and cremation stakeholders and others on the law and policy relating to coroners, burials, cremations and inquiries as well as dealing with the day-to-day handling of policy and casework, correspondence from MPs, coroners and the general public.

The funeral discourse – drivers of change in Scotland
by John Birrell, MA, LIB, BD, Bereavement Consultant, John Birrell Consultancy

Funerals are changing. Not just the music and the clothes, but how people think about the funeral. Yet there is widespread ignorance among the general public of what a funeral is, and of what it could be.

In Scotland over the last ten years there have been a range of developments around dying, death and bereavement which have impacted on our understanding of funerals. In this presentation John will look at the traditional funeral discourse and identify some of the drivers of change which are changing how we think about the funeral.

John is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Death & Society and the Department of Social and Policy Studies at Bath University. A former healthcare chaplain and NHS bereavement lead, he worked with Scottish Government for a number of years to develop a range of guidance on bereavement issues for NHS Scotland, and currently chaired the Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty until this year. He previously chaired the Board of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland for six years, and regularly writes and delivers training for them. He is a member of the International Work Group on Death Dying and Bereavement.

John’s research interests are around the efficacy of bereavement care and the causes and consequences of funeral poverty. He is currently a member of a team exploring the relationship between cremation and grief in the two years following a death.

John has a private practice as a bereavement consultant.

Wednesday 13th June

Designs on Death: UK Twenty-first Century Crematorium Design
by Professor Hilary J Grainger OBE, University of the Arts London

48 crematoria have been designed and opened in the UK since 2005. Commissioned largely by private companies, their designs aim to provide sympathetic environments for disposal, ritual and remembrance in the context of changing contemporary attitudes to death. In contrast to the situation in the twentieth century, where few architectural practices designed more than a handful of crematoria, some contemporary firms, including Art-Tech Design Services Ltd, Richard Vest Architectural Design Ltd, Robert Potter & Partners and Stride Treglown are emerging as specialists in the field. Crematorium design has often been the subject of obloquy and although the situation has improved of late, in some instances vitriolic comparisons continue to be made with supermarket design in particular. This paper will reflect on design trends, their perceived inadequacies, successes and the future of the crematorium aesthetic in the context of direct cremation and further social change.

Hilary is a Dean and Professor of Architectural History at University of the Arts London and Hon Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University. A leading authority on the architecture of crematoria, she has published and lectured widely on the subject. In 2005 she published Death Redesigned: British Crematoria, History, Architecture and Landscape (Spire Books Ltd, 2005) which was jointly commended as an outstanding reference book by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. She is co-author of Cremation in Modern Scotland, History, Architecture and Landscape (Berlinn 2017) and is currently preparing a book Designs on Death, The Architecture of Scottish Crematoria 1895-2018 to be published by Berlinn in 2019. Hilary is President of the Association for the Study of Death in Society (ASDS)

Procurement – a Dark Art or just plain common sense?
by Martin Street, Director, Rose Project Management Ltd

Having experienced local authority procurement from the point of view of both a tenderer providing consultancy services and as one also advising on the content, management and evaluation of tenders for both specialist cremation equipment and the separate accompanying construction works, Martin Street will share his insight on the processes and procedures required to ensure that the final outcome for a local authority is one which suits its particular Bereavement Services needs best for the long term benefit of the crematorium.

Martin Street has been the Managing Director of Rose Project Management since its inception in 2005 and has acted as lead Consultant/Project Manager on a large number of crematorium installations and refurbishments throughout the UK , and has also undertaken a wide range of consultancy work in the bereavement services sector for both public and private clients.

A fully qualified Construction Project Manager, Martin has previously worked in various senior roles in construction, consultancy and construction-related manufacturing.

Innovation in the Coffin Industry
by Simon Rothwell, LLB (Hons), MBA, Managing Director, LifeArt

Traditionally coffins used in cremation are usually made from particleboard or MDF. Producing these coffins requires a considerable number of trees and, when cremated, recent test reports reveal traditional coffins produce high levels of greenhouse gases including nitrous oxides. Due to improved material and manufacturing techniques, coffin manufacturing technology is now advancing on a global scale which reduces the environmental impact of cremation on the planet and provides affordable environmentally friendly coffins for the bereaved. LifeArt is leading the world in this technology.

Simon started his early career as a Police Officer before moving into business. He has developed a number of innovative products in the death care industry which are used by thousands of hospitals, hospices, funeral directors, Police and governments around the world. Simon is now focussed on innovation within the UK coffin industry. He has won a number of awards including the prestigious Queen's Award for Innovation, the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Award for Excellence in Innovation and the "Big Ideas Business Award" at The University of Warwick.

Simon is MD of both Flexmort & LifeArt Coffins UK.

History helps deal with the future
by Howard Hodgson, MBIFD (Dip), Ass RSH, Chief Executive Officer, Memoria Ltd

The talk will be an examination of the history of British funeral culture in the last 100 years, and how this helps us to understand the future changes as the fashion of death follows the fashion of life.

A fourth generation funeral director, Howard trained with James Summers of Cardiff in 1968. He took over the family business in 1975 and launched an expansion programme that culminated in the flotation of Hodgson Holdings plc in 1986. The company was subsequently merged with Kenyons in 1989 and then with Great Southern Group to form the largest funeral/crematorium group in the UK. Howard sold his interests in 1991, having taken the company from one branch to 546. He is also a social commentator and author, contributing frequent articles and features in the national press, television and radio. He published a biography on the Prince of Wales in 2007.