White Rose finalist in Good Funeral Awards 2019

White Rose Blog Article

We were delighted to be one of the finalists for the Good Funeral Awards 2019 organised by the Association of Green Funeral Directors.

White Rose Modern Funerals was shortlisted in the “Most Promising Newcomer To The Trade Award” category.

Despite not winning, we were delighted to be one of three funeral directors shortlisted in our category.

Here is some background about why we entered these awards:

What led us into the industry

We entered into the industry late 2018 as complete newcomers, we had no funeral industry experience. Our background was marketing, working with independent, local businesses. The funeral industry had regularly caught our attention – realising the majority were no longer independent and in fact owned by a corporate.

They all looked the same – dark, Victorian, unappealing and cold. Their websites were a struggle to follow and find relevant information. At our own time of need we may as well have been purchasing a coffee table for how ‘tick box’ the phone conversation was. The lack of information made readily available and feeling shoe-horned into a funeral style we didn’t want led to our own research.

We set out to find out how the funeral industry was fitting into the modern age of innovation, open communication, transparency, customer satisfaction and environmental awareness.

How we got started:

Being able to access the initial CMA report on the funeral industry, we reached out to the independent funeral directors in the UK that we could see were doing things differently to see what we could learn. We were truly inspired by the business owners we met, all led by a passion to open up the funeral industry to be more accessible and flexible to what families wanted.

We felt we had the relevant business experience, life skills and heartfelt desire to commit to developing a funeral business – but we needed to learn the practicalities of working with the deceased. We approached independent funeral directors in our area that we hoped we could shadow. First we had amazing help from Martin Lambert – then as space became a challenge, we were introduced to Ray Barnes who has been an outstanding mentor and with who we now rent facilities from.

Our marketing focused largely online and a PR campaign with all local print publications. We meet a family in their home, or by appointment at our modern style office.

From the get-go of our first enquiry, we have been 100% hands on with each aspect of working with the families, looking after the deceased, planning and delivering a funeral – and at each point are always questioning ‘how’ we can improve the experience for the families we work with.

Our journey 8 months on (written in August 2019)

8 months on, we have organised 40 funerals – the interest shown tells us we are on the right track – and have thoroughly enjoyed the different challenges with each family. Each experience has helped us to shape our service to be able to offer what a family wants.

We always start a family meeting by gently asking them to tell us about the family member they have lost. It is an unhurried conversation that helps to discover what their family member liked, didn’t like and what the family want – and don’t want.

From here, the conversation naturally evolves to working out the best way for a family to say farewell. To help structure thoughts we start with 3 options:

No Fuss Funerals | Personalised Funerals | Green Funerals

Our No Fuss Attended Funeral we developed after enquiries for Direct Cremation. Chatting with families, we felt there was a lack of information and there had to be a bridge between ‘no mourners’ and a ‘full service funeral’. Our early morning No Fuss funeral for immediate family (typically 2 – 10 mourners) complete with cups of tea, is proving a winner judging by the feedback received. Families have the privacy to say farewell in their own understated way, adding their own personal touches – the cost below £2k.

Typically, many families do go with convention of using the local crematoriums for convenience. But we are starting to build awareness that a cremation service does not have to take place at the crematorium.

For example, we were working with a family whose father had died unexpectedly aged just 60 years. Their request was for a private space for around two hours, where they could create their own service together as a family to say farewell in their own way.

The more the family talked and described their father who adored nature, it was evident a crematorium setting with its time limitations or a ‘chapel of rest’ was not going to be right for them.

In London it isn’t easy to find alternative private venues that will house a coffin, but we found the ideal answer with GreenAcres Epping Forest – who now allow cremation services to be held in their Woodland Halls and arrange for a direct cremation to take place after. The natural setting and tranquility in the beautiful Woodland Hall was far removed from the restrictions of a typical crematorium and let them have an unhurried family-led funeral service. GreenAcres arranged for a local cremation to take place, discreetly collecting the deceased after the service.

This has opened up our eyes to what else is possible. The cost for this stunning setting and over 2 hours of time wasn’t too different to a double slot (1 hour) at a crematorium!

Environmental awareness

Our vision for the future as we start to look for our own premises is that environmentally friendly funerals will be top of our agenda. There are evidently so many environmental improvements to be made in each aspect of a funeral from collection of the deceased to the funeral itself.

Whilst we are renting facilities with another funeral director, we are a little restricted. But. already we are looking at what we can do in our own way.

For example:

Coffins – Our simplest FSC and FFMA certified oak effect coffin we offer handleless and with a biodegradable liner – as opposed to plastic gold effect handles and plastic crem lining. We also feature many environmentally friendly coffins on our website.

Flowers – we encourage families to think outside the traditional funeral flowers and take their own out of the garden if possible. We have sourced an environmentally aware florist who does not use plastic frames (used for typical lettering you see at funerals).

She creates natural, beautiful sprays and we have found a way to recycle the flowers – after the service, we take the spray to the reception, where we create a memory table with photos and candle – and at the end, guests are invited to select a handful of flowers from the spray to make their own small posy to take home as a memory of the day.

Order of Service – we use our design skills to create Memory Booklets. Families have loved the personal touch and it means they are less likely to be thrown away.

Vehicles – when we invest in our own vehicle in the not too distant future, we will invest for the long term with an electric vehicle.

Why we wanted to be considered as Most Promising Newcomer to the Trade

Planning over 40 funerals in 8 months as a start up new business – we can see that families want a different approach to funerals. We have enjoyed every challenge we have encountered and are loving learning about a new industry. The reward is in seeing the difference the simplest of touches can make to how a family experience one of the most overwhelming times of their lives.

There are few industries left that haven’t already been disrupted, so to join this industry, fresh faced at the time when changes are starting to trickle through – we just see so many opportunities for a business that will have local longevity and where we can make differences that will be rewarding.

Our understanding and use of modern technology we know has helped members of a family to be kept fully informed. It is typical in London that the family will be spread out globally. Creating a WhatsApp group has meant no close family members have felt excluded – this has been commented on the day.

We are just starting to launch a new initiative we plan to hold quarterly – Cup of Company. We have worked with so many lovely families and recognise with many that it is the isolation that can be so hard afterwards. We started to put the idea out there to our families and it has been so positively reacted to we are planning an informal morning that we will host at a pretty local hotel. If just two people make a new friendship to meet again then we know we have helped to make a difference.