The inaugural funeral and bereavement convention, organised by funeralmap and held in Birmingham on 27 March, saw a variety of delegates attend – from funeral directors to hospice staff and funeral celebrants.
The theme was ‘It’s all About Choice’, and throughout the day talks from a range of speakers took place. These included the Rev Dr Peter Jupp, who opened the conference speaking about how attitudes and approaches to death and dying had changed in the years since the world wars and the advent of the NHS, before taking the audience through the 10 steps that he believes a funeral is designed to achieve.
Charles Cowling, author of The Good Funeral Guide, called on the funeral industry to be “collaborative, not competitive,” and suggested a greater public debate about death and dying in order to encourage people to plan ahead and make informed choices about their funerals.
Other speakers included Rosie Inman-Cook, manager of the Natural Death Centre, who talked about the options available to families for funerals; while Lauren Dunne, from the NHS Blood and Transplant North West, provided an insight into tissue and organ donation.
Ann Rowland, director of bereavement services, Child Bereavement Charity, highlighted the different ways bereaved parents deal with losing a child, before pausing to watch a moving video of a couple talking about the death of one of their young daughters.
Speaking afterwards, Anne Barber, event organiser and founder of funeralmap.co.uk, said: “We were absolutely thrilled with the day and feedback from speakers, delegates and exhibitors has been extremely positive.
“Above all, people liked the fact that there were so many different attendees from across the wider funeral and bereavement sector. People who never usually have the chance to meet could exchange ideas, share best practice and generally find out about other areas of their profession that they weren’t necessarily aware of.”
Well over 120 people attended, and there are plans to expand the event in future years.