AGFD Good Funeral Awards celebrates the best of the sector

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A busy day at the National Conference Centre in Solihull in September saw a day of networking, seminars and exhibiting conclude with an evening banquet and the presentation of the 2023 AGFD Good Funeral Awards.

The new venue proved a hit with the 35 exhibitors, who ranged from eco-friendly coffin producers to memorial products, shroud creators to plumes for horses, digital services to equipment suppliers. Competition was fierce to land the handcrafted coffin-shaped chopping board on offer at the FSJ stand – in the end a staff member from Woven Farewell Coffins landed the prized kitchen accessory.

A full seminar programme throughout the day included Andrew Mathews (Parley Green) on sustainability, a theme also picked up by Carole Patilla (Tuckshop Flowers) who focused on floristry. NAFD Past President John Adams spoke on his bereavement education campaign, digital guru Eimer Duffy (see also p28) looked at social media for funeral directors, and Awen Clements (Hawthorn Funeral Support) gave a talk on inclusion.

Christopher Doggett reported back on a survey on green awareness, and the programme wound up with an AGFD forum on ‘what makes a funeral truly green’.

The evening saw hundreds of exhibitors, shortlisted entrants, visitors and guests enjoy a 3-course banquet with the awards being compered by actor Shaun Williamson (Barry from EastEnders).

AGFD President William Wainman commented: “The organisers and judges of the AGFD Good Funeral awards continue to be astonished by the sheer number of nominations received this year, as well as their quality. With so many exceptional people such as these, the funeral industry can only go from strength to strength.”

Main sponsors for the event this year were The Natural Burial Company, who currently operate three Midlands-based natural burial grounds.

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2023 Good Funeral Awards Winners

Best Bereavement Awareness Support: Sara Fixter & Jez Fixter, Full Circle Funerals, Altrincham
Best Burial Ground of the Year: Kent Natural Burials
Best Crematorium of the Year: West Berkshire Crematorium, Thatcham
Best Funeral Information Provider: The Coffin Club (Kate Tym & Kate Dyer)
Best Innovative Funeral Product: FIT Social Media (Eimer Duffy)
Carriage Masters of the Year: Regency Horse & Carriage Masters Ltd
Celebrant of the Year: Katie Costello
Funeral Arranger of the Year: Debbie Powell, Thomas & Brown Funeralcare
Funeral Director of the Year: Kim & Craig Hughers, Hughes Funeral Directors, Wolverhampton
Gravedigger of the Year: Alan Barnacle, Melton Mowbray
Green Company of the Year: Ecological Coffins (John Plumb)
Green Funeral Director of the Year: Full Circle (Sarah Jones)
Green Product of the Year: Cycle Hearse UK
Lifetime Achievement Award: Geoff Fowles (Fowles Funeral Service, Winsford, Cheshire)
Low Cost Provider of the Year: Southwest Funeral Care, Plymouth
Most Promising Newcomer to the Trade: Kirsty Sailes Funeral Directors, Newport
Most Promising Trainee Funeral Director: Millie Bryan, Walsh Funerals & Memorials
Pet Crematorium of the Year: Restful Pets, Towcester, Northants
Yearly Achievement Award: Stephanie Langford, West Berkshire Crematorium

PHOTO: Lifetime achievement award winner Geoff Fowles from Fowles Funeral Services, who were also finalists in Green FD of the Year and FD of the Year