The Good Funeral Awards

Good Funeral Awards 2018

28 March, 2018

(This is our latest e-newsletter 28/3/2018)

The Good Funeral Awards 2018 will take place on Saturday 15 September at the Highcliffe Marriott Hotel in Bournemouth.

They will be part of a weekend of events in the hotel under the banner of the Ideal Death Show.

Thank you, Fran

Fran Hall, CEO of the Good Funeral Guide, wrote to me before Christmas to say that she no longer wished to be involved with the Good Funeral Awards.

She wants to take the Good Funeral Guide and Guild in new directions.

We’ve enjoyed a great partnership with the Good Funeral Guide over the past seven years.

I’d like to thank Fran for her hard work over the past two years. She was meticulous and thorough. She did a great job of making our London events special. And, of course, thanks also to the mercurial Charles Cowling, who kicked it all off blogging as an independent voice in the wilderness.

Welcome Mary

Last year, Mary Carmichael retired from editing Funeral Service Journal. I’ve spoken to Mary and she’s agreed to oversee this year’s Good Funeral Awards, bringing her extensive knowledge of funeral world to the event.

We will be streamlining the entry process this year and there will probably be a reduction in the number of categories.

Why Bournemouth?

The Good Funeral Awards were first held in Bournemouth in 2012.

They grew out of the Six Feet Under Convention which was first held in Bournemouth in 2011.

We moved the event to Birmingham in 2014 and then to Winchester in 2015.

The problem is, if the event is a moveable feast, it involves a huge amount of work finding the right venues.

We know that Bournemouth is not particularly convenient for funeral businesses in north and central England, but we have to provide a high-standard of service at a reasonable price. This is hard when you have to spend time and energy researching venues.

I have chosen the best hotel in Bournemouth with stunning views over the sea.

A four-hour lunch in London does not provide many opportunities for proper conversations. Funeralworld loves to talk shop and there aren’t that many opportunities to do so.

Coming back to Bournemouth means we can relaunch the Ideal Death Show. We can put on lectures and host death cafés in yurts on the grass. From Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime you can hang out with colleagues.

The hotel used to be the main focus of the Party Political Conferences that were once a regular feature of the Bournemouth calendar.

This is a good association to have.

I recently finished a book The Way We Die Now by a surgeon called Seamus O’Mahoney.

This quotation sprang out at me: ‘If we don’t have a proper national conversation about dying, doctors and nurses will become the whipping boys for an inadequate understanding of how we face our final days.’

This is the purpose of our event – to lead a national conversation about dying.

The Wisdom of the Dead

​There’s something uncanny about this event.

At regular intervals over the past seven years, there have been compelling reasons not to continue.

In fact the organisers have agreed twice to wind the whole thing up. Only for some unexpected intervention, which changes our minds.

For me there are now two reasons to continue. They can be described as wisdom from the dead.

In 2013 Clarissa Tan from The Spectator turned up in Bournemouth to write an article about the event. Her piece was titled: The Ideal Death Show.

Despite Charles Cowling and I claiming to be expert wordsmiths, and agreeing that the name of the event was crucial, our best effort was The Joy of Death Festival. We had to admit that Clarissa’s description was genius.

Clarissa enjoyed her day in Bournemouth, but died of cancer in March 2014.

In 2017, Jon Underwood died suddenly. He made a huge contribution to the conversation about death by his work on the death cafés.

Louise Winter from Poetic Endings made a great speech, based on Jon’s words, at last year’s awards.

You can hear an extract in this video.

Jon expressed some unorthodox ideas, but I agree with Jon!

If we stop, those unorthodox ideas will not enter the mainstream.

So we’re back in business.

More details of this year’s weekend will be published after Easter.

Brian Jenner
07545 232980