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Much more than a Free Pen!

Wells Funeral Services

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There’s so much more to a funeral plan than a free pen!

From TV soap operas to pop-up ads online, it seems there’s no getting away from the subject of funeral planning at the moment. Adverts urge us to get our affairs in order and make sure that when we do depart this earth, the financial burden of the funeral is not left with our loved ones.

Makes good sense, but with a host of insurance companies, banks, solicitors and more all offering to help us plan for our final send-off, it can be difficult to know where to turn for guidance.

The alarming truth is that almost anyone can write a funeral plan and, due to the fast growth of the pre-paid funeral industry, it may only be a matter of time before you can pick one up at your local supermarket!

But let’s be honest, what do supermarkets know about funerals? Even banks, solicitors and the like don’t deliver funerals on a daily basis so, hand on heart, are they really going to give you the best advice?

Anyone with a pen can write up your funeral plan, but selecting a plan that’s going to suit your budget and requirements is the key. Whether someone wants a ‘green’ eco funeral with a woodland burial, a traditional service complete with hearse, limos and a nice casket, or something else altogether, the costs do differ. Without having those conversations in the first place, how can you be sure there won’t be a financial shortfall that your family and friends need to cover when the time comes?

With funeral planning, the point of conception is as important as the point of delivery, so my recommendation is always to speak to an independent funeral director right from the outset. By talking to the person who will deal with the funeral itself, you’re ensuring that the right points are covered so the right provision can be put in place.

All of my funeral plans are done thoroughly because I’m the person who will deliver them when the time comes so I know how much that matters. I make sure all the details you want are listed in your funeral plan, from the type of service through to specific music or flowers – not something you’re going to get from your high street bank or legal firm! Even with a bigger funeral services company you don’t tend to get that personal connection, plus some larger firms have sales targets in place that mean they can’t necessarily be relied on to give the best advice.

It’s true that an independent funeral company won’t have celebrities fronting their adverts, nor will they tend to give you a free gift when you sign up, but their personal service, care and continuity can make all the difference when it matters most. The passing of a loved one is always going to be distressing for those left behind, so having the finer details already in place can be a huge weight lifted at that very difficult time.

Whilst we all love a gimmick or a free gift, there’s a lot more to consider when writing up a funeral plan than many people realise. It’s an important ‘undertaking’ so please don’t let a free pen or an approachable celebrity sway you! Surely the peace of mind you get from doing it at all is in knowing that when the time comes it’s been done properly.

You can read about our funeral plans here. Please get in touch for more detailed information or an initial chat.

What to look for when choosing a Funeral Director

Wells Funeral Services

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People often ask what sort of things they should look for when choosing a funeral director, or what questions they should be asking to make sure they pick the right funeral company. Thankfully it’s not something that many of us have a lot of experience doing, although when the time does come it’s important to make the right choice.

Funeral cost
The number one concern is usually the price, so it’s worth calling a few funeral companies in your area to find out what they charge. Even if you don’t yet know exactly what you want, enquire about a fairly simple package and it should give you enough of an idea to make the necessary comparisons. From my side, I’m transparent about my pricing and will never try to ‘upsell’ services to a customer which, believe it or not, some do! Being an independent funeral director means that I’m not tied to company policies, rigid processes or vulgar sales targets, nor do I have high corporate overheads to cover. On the contrary, I’m proud to run a funeral company that has good service and a personal approach at its heart. My aim is always to take good care of the people I work with and over-deliver on their expectations wherever I can – as you’ll see if you have a look at some of my testimonials.

Good rapport
The next most important factor, in my opinion, is finding someone who you can get along with and communicate with comfortably. A good funeral director will do most of the work in the time leading up to the funeral, with your input and direction of course, but guiding and reassuring you through the whole process. Whether that’s arranging the order of service, the flowers, the funeral notice or just being there to answer your questions, your chosen funeral director will be very much involved in your life for those difficult couple of weeks, or however long it takes. It’s a challenging time anyway so the more supportive and friendly people there are around you, the better – and that includes the funeral director!

Smart, professional appearance
It may not seem important but I would always recommend you choose a funeral director that has a smart, professional appearance, with a clean shirt and polished shoes. Their appearance can set the tone of the whole funeral and whilst you might think it’s not something you’d particularly notice, you soon would if their shirt was creased or their shoes were dirty. Perhaps it’s because I trained in the army that I’m fussy about things like that but for me it’s about demonstrating professionalism, dignity and respect. It’s the very least you should expect!

Independent funeral director
I mentioned earlier that I am independent so you may not be surprised to hear that I would recommend choosing an independent funeral director. It’s not that I have anything against the bigger funeral companies but, generally speaking, if they work for a large organisation they have higher overheads to cover and they have to follow set company procedures. An independent funeral director simply doesn’t have those ties, so there’s much more flexibility all round, which can be particularly important if you’re after a more bespoke funeral.

Even more importantly, an independent funeral director should be involved and in contact with you every step of the way. You won’t have a separate funeral arranger and funeral director, as you may with some larger companies. It’s all one and the same person – from picking up the phone in the first place to delivering the funeral and being there on the day, and personally I think that makes a huge difference.

What others have to say about them
Last but definitely not least, do have a look at their customer testimonials and see if the type of service they reference is the type of thing you would want. And don’t just look at the reviews on their website – have a look on Google at the ‘unmoderated’ comments from customers too. You can check out my Google reviews here.

My name is Rod, I am the owner of Wells Funeral Services, and I am here to help. If you have any questions or need further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Bespoke funerals becoming the norm as traditional funeral services decline

Wells Funeral Services

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The times they are a-changin. A recent article in The Telegraph highlighted that the traditional funeral service is dying a death, with the headline figures quoting an 80 per cent decline in religious funerals over the past eight years. Where once people sought the comfort of a church funeral complete with hymns and prayers to say farewell to their loved ones, the tendency these days is towards having a much more personal, sometimes even quirky, send-off.

Each and every funeral is personal, in my opinion, whether that’s in a church, a crematorium, a golf club or a meadow. But it’s true that there is a growing awareness and acceptance that it’s OK to say goodbye in a more individual way.

Less than 20 per cent of those I look after are what I’d call religious funerals. There’s often something in between, around another 20 per cent, which have the service at a crematorium but still include a hymn. Then the rest, around 60 per cent, are completely bespoke – every one of these is absolutely different to the next. Whether that’s about specific colours or music, funny hats or bubble machines, people nowadays want a much more personal touch. They want to set the scene for the person they’re there to remember, to help them celebrate the personality they know and love.

In some cases, people don’t want anything at all – no service, just straight to the crematorium, and even this isn’t that unusual anymore. One lady in her nineties told her family she didn’t want them spending money on a funeral service, she’d rather they spent it on a slap-up meal in her honour, so that’s exactly what they did! We handled the formalities but they commemorated her life in their own personal way.

My approach is always that people can have whatever type of funeral they want. I am there to help them celebrate that person’s life in whichever way they choose. I always say that we don’t just do funerals, we celebrate life, and that’s a theme that runs through everything we do – it’s all about personal care and attention.

I hold people’s hands every step of the way and make sure they know they can have anything they want. There’s no right or wrong way – if a widow prefers to sit at the back of the room rather than in the front row so she can see who’s there, that’s exactly what I’ll arrange. Or if the person who has passed away wanted a green funeral or a pagan funeral, that’s precisely what we’ll do.

I think bespoke funerals will become absolutely the norm over the coming years, as more and more people are pre-planning their funerals. The key is to find a funeral director who’s happy to go with your wishes, and who you know will carry out each and every one of them to their very best of their ability.

Find out more about our bespoke funerals and funeral packages, or contact us for an initial chat. You can also read what others have to say about us on our testimonials page and by looking at our Google reviews.

Burying a Precious Commodity!

Wells Funeral Services

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One of the richest and most powerful men in Brazil, Thane Chiquinho Scarpa, made waves when he announced plans to bury his million-dollar Bentley, so he could drive around his afterlife in style. He received lots of media attention, mostly negative and was severely criticized for the extravagant gesture and wasting of a precious commodity. Why wouldn’t he donate the car to charity? How out of touch with reality is this guy? He still went ahead with the ceremony.

But, there’s a twist…

Moments before lowering the car in the ground prepared for the burial of his Bentley, he declared that he wouldn't bury his car and then revealed his genuine motive for the drama: Just to create awareness for organ donation.

“People condemn me because I wanted to bury a million dollar Bentley, in fact most people bury something a lot more valuable than my car,” Scarpa said during a speech at the ceremony. “They bury hearts, livers, lungs, eyes, kidneys. This is absurd. So many people waiting for a transplant and you bury your healthy organs that could save so many lives!”

Worth a thought! Find out more about organ donation on the NHS website HERE.

Dignity Profits Suffer Due to Fewer Deaths

Wells Funeral Services

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An article in The Times newspaper states that ‘the funeral provider Dignity has warned that profits will fall short of forecasts this year because fewer people are dying. Britain’s only listed funerals chain said that underlying earnings dropped 42 per cent in the first three months of this year to £21.7 million after a 12 per cent fall in the death rate.’

The article goes on to say that ‘the Competition and Markets Authority launched an inquiry in June into the £2 billion-a-year industry amid claims that families were being overcharged by greedy operators.’

Using an independent Funeral Director such as Wells Funeral Services ensures that you’re not paying to make up the profit margins of these large greedy companies - you get all-round better price quality and service too!

The full article can be read here.

Terminally Ill Mum Wants to be made into Firework for Funeral

Wells Funeral Services

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Alejandra Solis, 38, from Bramhall, Greater Manchester, is having treatment to control her terminal cancer and while she is determined to research the latest cures and outsmart the disease, she is not shying away from the prospect of death – and has already planned her funeral which she wants to be fun and celebratory, rather than the “traditional, boring” affair.

She has even found a company that will turn her into a firework that will be launched into the sky as part of a spectacular display. 

“Funerals are usually quite morbid so I thought rather than a sad thing, I wanted mine to be a happier gathering,” she says. “I like Prosecco and I like jazz, so I am going to have a jazz band and Prosecco at my funeral.” 

And the fireworks display. “I will be the last firework which will be pink and spell out ‘ciao’,” she says. ”I thought this would be cool as I would be everywhere rather than in a graveyard.”

Read more here…

'Office Hours Only' Funerals? Not us!

Wells Funeral Services

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Here at Wells Funeral Services, we take great pride in offering a 24 hour service, 7 days a week. As you can read below, many cruel providers don’t and thus are creating a lot of terrible upset for some poor people…

GRIEVING families face being forced to endure their loved one’s body being left at home for days after inadvertently signing up to cowboy cremation plans that collect corpses only in office hours.

Campaigners are calling for the Government to urgently regulate the funeral industry after the first investigation into cremation plans unearthed hidden fees and collection delays described by some as “appalling”. Half the providers of “direct cremations”, an increasingly popular option for people who wish to avoid the fuss of a traditional funeral, will only collect bodies during office hours, from Monday to Friday.

Baroness Altmann, the former pensions minister, said: “This is just appalling. The adverts for these plans say ‘We will collect your loved ones’. They do not say: ‘If they die on a weekend or bank holiday – tough luck’.

“The emotional impact of this could be quite devastating for families. They are coping with a bereavement and they had been under the impression that it was all taken care of.

“They won’t be prepared for this shock that cannot get anybody to come along. It should be a 24-hour collection service, or at least daily. It is really distressing to think people will only find out about the problem when it hits them.”

Read more

More transparent fees?

Wells Funeral Services

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Funeral directors have been ordered to publish their full fees online after concerns about the soaring cost of services.

An investigation into the prices of cremations and burials has led the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) to change its code of practice to force all members to be more transparent about charges.

The pledge from the association, which has 850 members operating more than 4,000 funeral homes, was made in response to a review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) due to be published in May.

Here at Wells Funeral Services we’ve always been very open and transparent about our fees, which demonstrate our commitment to clear and transparent and open business, all of which make us so many people’s first choice.

You can read more here:

Dignity's profits hit by cheaper funerals

Wells Funeral Services

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Funeral provider Dignity recorded losses across all but one of its services in its latest financial results as competitors, including Co-op Funeralcare, focused on offering cheaper funerals.

In the 13 weeks to 28 September 2018, the underlying operating profit for the firm’s funeral division was £11.1m compared to last year’s £15.3m. The pre-need and central overheads recorded a decrease in underlying profits of £300,000 and £7.4m respectively. Its crematoria arm stayed flat with underlying operating profits of £8.8m.

Overall, its underlying quarterly profits fell 39 percent to £12.2m from £19.9m.

James Dunn, co-founder of funeral price comparison site Beyond, added: “Dignity’s results speak resoundingly to the changing shape of the funeral sector. Death may be permanent but the funeral market is in the process of radical change.

“The provider, which is in the middle of a restructuring, has historically reaped the rewards of an incredibly uncompetitive market. Despite targeting price reductions, Dignity is still very much overpriced when compared to your typical independent business. The average funeral director fee of chains – such as Dignity – is still 56 percent higher than that of independents.”

READ MORE HERE

Memorial 'Trees' - a growing trend?!

Wells Funeral Services

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People and mourners alike continue to look for new and innovative ways to memorialise either themselves or their loved ones who have passed. At a time when ashes are being put into vinyl records or sent for a trip to space, the sector will only continue to see increasing demands for alternative memorials and more options become available.

One company which has been offering an alternative since 2016 is Memorial Trees, established when founder Diederik’s wife Jose was underwhelmed by the memorial options at a crematorium near Maastricht, Netherlands. The ceramicist had some interaction with the funeral sector and shortly after coming up with the idea of the trees, passed away leaving a legacy for her husband. “Ever since then he’s been very, very busy in the Netherlands, I’m a family friend and I’m now working for him,” says Marko Dakin, UK co-ordinator for the company. “I’m responsible for the UK and Ireland, Italy and France.”

The company has grown since its first installation two years ago at the Walpot crematorium in the Netherlands, with a total of 13 trees in the country. The concept has since been brought to the UK where April saw the first installation at the Lincoln crematorium, Lincolnshire in partnership with The City of Lincoln BereavementServices. The company also installed a tree in Ireland at the Colliers Funeral Directors in Bray in May.

Based on Jose’s drawings, the trees are laser cut and welded by a steel company based in the Netherlands called Tosek who also transport it to the crematoria and cemeteries which purchase them. For its UK’s operations, a Derbyshire steel company – AK Bryan – handles the production of the trees and UK contractors Greenacre and Gem precast take care of the foundation and installation. Although Jose’s choice for the memorial objects to be a tree is not explicitly known, Dakin notes that, in general, trees are known to “symbolise life and renewal”. Aside from that, despite clearly being made from COR-TEN weathering steel, Dakin states that the memorial trees fit nicely into a natural setting, making them appear seamless at grave sites and crematoria amongst the existing nature.

READ MORE HERE

Embalming fluid ban may change funerals

Wells Funeral Services

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Grieving loved ones may no longer be able to pay their last respects to dead relatives when the EU bans the chemical in embalming fluid. That is the fear of Britain's funeral directors after MEPs voted to restrict the use of formaldehyde.

The EU says it will protect workers' health and save lives. And - in a concession secured by a Conservative MEP - it has delayed the ban on the substance for three years to allow the industry to adjust.

If the UK remains in the EU single market for 21 months after it officially leaves on 29 March, as is currently planned, then the government would be expected to transpose the directive into UK law within a strict time limit.

The Health and Safety Executive said it would welcome any measures to help controls but is trying to get more time for the funeral industry to adjust.

A HSE spokesman said: "This is not a ban on formaldehyde. The European Commission has proposed formalising exposure limits. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that requires close regulation, which the funeral sector has always taken into account. As is the current case, it will still be used in a controlled manner. As a responsible regulator we have always worked closely with the funeral industry to understand its particular needs. This has informed our discussions at EU level. Our dialogue with the sector on the proposed limits will continue whatever the terms of our departure from the European Union."

The HSE said the three-year exemption period would come on top of the usual two-year implementation period for a new regulation to come into force, meaning it will not apply to the funeral sector for five years.

Funeral directors in the UK are concerned they will not be able to find a replacement for formaldehyde and that they will be faced with extra costs.

Formaldehyde, which can cause irritation and has been linked to nasopharyngeal cancer, is one of five industrial chemicals to be added to the European Commission's list of restricted carcinogens and mutagens.

The UK funeral industry says it recognises that formaldehyde, which is also used in hospitals and in a wide variety of industrial processes, has been linked to serious illnesses. But it argues that the chemical does not pose a significant risk to workers in the diluted form, known as formalin, used by embalmers.

And if an alternative to formalin cannot be found, then the "culture" around Christian burials and cremations in the UK, will have to change, with funeral directors advising more families against seeing their loved one in the coffin, although ultimately it is the family's choice whether to do so.

The embalming of bodies is prohibited in the Jewish and Muslim faiths. It is not forbidden in Hinduism but is rare because cremation normally takes place within 24 hours of death.

The funeral industry estimates between 50% and 55% of cadavers in the UK undergo some form of embalming so they can be viewed by relatives. The practice has become more prevalent in recent years because of the growing length of time between death and funeral, caused by delays in obtaining paperwork.

READ MORE HERE

Funeral Costs increase over 50%

Wells Funeral Services

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The latest figures from the Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2018 show that the average cost of a funeral in the UK has soared to £4,271.

According to our Sun Life’s 2018 Cost of Dying research, the average cost of a funeral in the UK now stands at £4,271. They’ve been doing this research for the last 15 years and, since we started, we’ve seen a steady rise in costs.

This year, we’ve also calculated that the total cost of dying is at an all-time high of £9,204 and this figure is only set to grow.

THE FULL REPORT CAN BE READ HERE

Considering your own death...

Wells Funeral Services

The average British person contemplates their own mortality for more than half a century, according to Co-op’s ‘biggest ever’ survey into death, dying and bereavement.

The funeral provider’s research revealed that age 26 is when Brits first consider their own death, with a third of all adults doing so at least once a week. With life expectancy now topping 80, this means people on average are spending 55 years having deadly thoughts. Despite thinking about death, the majority 41 percent of people have not yet planned for the inevitable.

Women are more likely than men to think about their own mortality, with 98 percent of women admitting this is the case, versus just 90 percent of men.

The findings, released in Co-op’s broader report ‘Making Peace With Death’, highlighted that further action may be needed to tackle the nation’s last taboo.

The research uncovered attitudes towards mortality, bereavement and the way in which people plan ahead for death. With 30,000 taking part, this is the first time national attitudes towards death have been looked at on such a scale.

Although 91 percent have thought about their own mortality, it’s not something Brits will openly talk about. Findings highlighted that terrorism, celebrity deaths and external news reports were amongst the top 10 reasons for people to consider their own mortality:

  • The death of a family member (28 percent)

  • The loss of a friend (15 percent)

  • Reaching a milestone age (22 percent)

  • Making my own will (14 percent)

  • A medical diagnosis – someone I know (17 percent)

  • Terrorism (13 percent)

  • News reports of death (16 percent)

  • Hearing about a celebrity dying (12 percent)

  • A medical diagnosis – myself (15 percent)

  • The death of an acquaintance (10 percent)

David Collingwood, director of funerals for Co-op Funeralcare, said: “Our survey shows that whilst mortality is something we often think about, it’s not something we’re willing to open up and talk about. With over 18 million people uncomfortable talking about death, many of us are having those conversations because we feel they are too difficult to broach or we don’t want to upset people.

“The reality of it is, if we start to talk more openly about death, dying and bereavement now, it’ll remove some of the emotional burden for our loved ones further down the line.”

Fancy a fancy coffin? Paa Joe's your man..!

Wells Funeral Services

Want to be buried in a giant wooden coffin that looks like an aeroplane? Or how about a Coke bottle?

Coffin artist Paa Joe is the man who can make that happen. He crafts fantasy wood "proverb coffins" (known as as abebuu adekai in his home country of Ghana) out of his workshop. He's considered the grandfather of the fantasy coffin trade and his work is exhibited in museums worldwide. But hard times fell on his business.

Now a wonderful documentary has been made that tells the story of how Paa Joe and his son turned the business’s failing fortunes around. Paa Joe & The Lion is the 2017 film that tells the story of how he and his son are rebuilding the family legacy together. It's now available to stream on Amazon. Have a look at the trailer at the bottom of this post; it's really inspiring!

And to inspire you further, here are some of Paa Joe’s creations. What would your dream coffin be?!


Why can't we let funerals be sad?

Iain MacLeod-Jones

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In the modern age, many funerals put an emphasis on celebrating a life lived rather than mourning its loss. There is a strong argument saying that there is nothing wrong with this and we certainly agree, but is this push to celebrate making it less acceptable for a funeral to be a sad event?

Read more here...

Poorest families 'being barred from funerals of relatives'

Wells Funeral Services

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From The Independent

Some of the UK’s poorest people are being barred from attending the funerals of loved ones as part of council cost-cutting, it has been claimed.

Families who must reportedly rely on publicly-funded funerals are told they cannot be at the service.

An official at Bracknell Forest Council, in Berkshire, was recorded telling undercover reporters that relatives would not even be told when the burial or cremation was taking place, according to The Sunday Times

“There’s no attendees, no keeping of the ashes,” the official is reported to have said. “Nobody’s invited, you don’t have any say at all.”

Read more here

A Short History of Funerals in Britain

Wells Funeral Services

Now here's a fascinating article! The modern funeral is far different then that of ancient tradition. Many of the funeral rites practised by our ancestors have been lost in the mists of time, but occasionally we can catch a glimpse of how our modern funeral traditions developed. 

Read more...