A Choice Virtual Marathon Success

A member of the Choice Funeral Plans team has recently completed the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 raising over £700 for two charities that are close to her heart.  Julie Adams, Pre-Need Executive at the Choice Head Office in Torquay embarked on this mammoth task on a wet and miserable Sunday and completed the 26.2 mile run in the early evening after setting off at 7am in the dark and rain.

This was Julie’s second London Marathon and this time round she was running and raising for two causes that are very close to her heart.  Julie chose to run to support the British Heart Foundation and the Plymouth Hospital Charity – focusing in particular on the Coronary ICU/HDU who were amazing when her Mother found herself admitted there with respiratory and renal failure after undergoing heart bypass surgery.

Courageous Julie is not shy of a challenge and has undergone several challenges over the years with the London Marathon’s 40th race being her toughest yet.

Am I fit enough – no, but rest assured I will finish it come hell or high water and yes I am aware this time I am older and fatter.   Please don’t laugh at my insanity, I am getting old and I am concerned it will only get worse!

If you would like to donate, or want further information on the British Heart Foundation, you can visit Julie’s link at  Just Giving British Heart Foundation

Hope At The End of The Rainbow

Funeral Directors Sarah Lockton and Mark Carr created a rainbow trail window display in honour of NHS and key workers who are valiantly working to keep vital services operational and save lives.

After an appeal on Facebook Sarah was inundated with emails and messages from members of the public with pictures that were printed off.

Funeral Arranger Kim Skerrett from Henry Ison & Son Funeral Directors on Allesley Old Road created a rainbow window display with the aim of spreading hope and positivity amongst the local community as well as showing her support for the thousands of NHS and key workers working on the front line.

In the North Region, Anthony Barton, Funeral Director and Tami Peel, Funeral Arranger from our Elizabeth Way branch in Mossley have been truly engaged with the local community. They have reached out and asked children to draw pictures for their branch window and for photos of Key Workers to create a ‘thank you’ display. They are receiving fantastic feedback from within the community.

As well as being a Funeral Arranger Tami is a community nurse, so lately has been working nights at weekends on a Covid-19 Ward. Tami’s two children have received personalised letters from the CEO of the NHS trust, thanking them for allowing Mum to be a hero and a legend and saying how much she needs their hugs. Tami is doing an amazing job whilst juggling her role with us too.

Regional Development Director for the North Region, Phil Barr said “This is a fantastic idea and lovely to see. It certainly makes you sit back and think about the amazing work that Key Workers are doing across communities. Thank you, Anthony and Tami, for supporting your local community and for making a video to share.” (The background singer is a lady who sings at our local Christmas Memorial service)
To view the video Anthony and Tami have put together this video click on this link https://vimeo.com/415473136/5c6999910e

Supporting Families & Communities Through Unprecedented Times

One of the hardest things bereaved families have had to face during the coronavirus crisis is not being allowed to say their final goodbyes to their loved one in the way they would wish.

Funeral Directors have been going the extra mile, trying to add small personal touches to support families through this distressing time.
Anthony Barton, Funeral Director at Elizabeth Way Funeral Directors in Greater Manchester, who joined Funeral Partners last year, explained:

“The ways things are at the moment is particularly sad. If the person died of Covid-19, their loved ones may be self-isolating and haven’t been able to see them for weeks.”

“One elderly man who lost his wife had been married for 67 years. She died in hospital and he hadn’t been allowed to see her. He was surprised and so grateful when we said he could come to see her in our Chapel of Rest.  He was a different person afterwards, he couldn’t thank us enough for allowing him to see his wife again and say his final goodbyes.”

Anthony said, with only ten people allowed to attend a service, families also greatly appreciated the offer to page the funeral cortege outside the deceased person’s home.

“It gives people the chance to pay their respects on the street before the funeral. When we arrive outside the house, family, friends and neighbours come out and the whole street starts clapping.”

Anthony said the team had received heart-warming feedback from families thanking them for helping to make arrangements go as smoothly as possible despite current restrictions. “We’ve had lots of cards, chocolates and wine. It’s very humbling.”

Sarah Lockton, Funeral Director at Torbay & District Funeral Service in Torquay, also part of the Funeral Partners network, has also tried to go above and beyond to ensure families can give their loved one a fitting send-off.

“It’s really terribly sad to see only ten people in the chapel, sitting apart in order to be socially distanced,” she said. “You just can’t do everything you would normally want.”

Sarah has helped some families by facetiming them from her phone so they can follow the funeral service. “There are a lot of elderly and retired people in the area without family nearby. It helps their relatives to see that someone is attending their funeral.”

Sarah goes out of her way to add small touches, for example, one deceased person liked pink and she arranged for the pall bearers to wear pink ties. At no extra cost, she ordered pink buttonholes for the team to wear.
“People do notice, it’s the little things we can do for them, even when only a few mourners can attend,” she said. “We have had lovely feedback, families have been amazing and really understanding.”

Sarah received a note of thanks from one family which said:

“I cannot tell you how happy I was with everything you did. I noticed and appreciated the personal touches and I was touched and pleased. Dad would have been too.
“I would just add that there are good funeral directors and very good funeral directors, but you are in a class of your own and should be very proud of the way you look after people.”

At Elizabeth Way and Torbay Funeral Service, along with most Funeral Partners funeral homes, the teams have connected with their communities by decorating their funeral home windows with children’s pictures, showing their support for the NHS and key workers.
Sarah posted on Facebook asking for children’s pictures and received nearly 80 – she had to supplement the window display with a noticeboard inside the branch. As part of their daily exercise routines, local families bring their children to see her window.

Anthony and Funeral Arranger Tami Peel at Elizabeth Way initially ran a children’s rainbow drawing competition, judged by a local church minister, following it up with a superhero window display where children of key workers were invited to submit pictures they had drawn of their parents.
This resonates with Tami, who is a qualified nurse and, since the coronavirus outbreak, has been helping out her local NHS Trust by working night shifts on a Covid-19 ward at Tameside Hospital.  Tami said: “It’s been a juggling act and has been emotionally draining. My own children have coped really well, with my eldest helping out and being like a second mum to my four-year-old daughter.”

Anthony said he and Tami had been doing everything they could to support their community and had received messages from local residents saying the window display made them smile. To thank key workers, the team compiled a video featuring the children’s posters, backed by a local singer singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.

Funeral Partners Regional Development Director, Phil Barr, added: “Tami and Anthony are doing a fantastic job. It certainly makes you sit back and think about the amazing work that key workers are doing across communities.”

Guidance regarding Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Given the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, Funeral Partners recognises that this is an especially difficult time for our clients and the bereaved.

Funeral Partners is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD). NAFD representatives are continuing to liaise directly with government authorities in order to ensure that all NAFD members (including Funeral Partners) follow the latest government advice.

The well-being of all those who interact with Funeral Partners remains our key concern. Please see below for further guidance concerning our services at this time.

Funeral arrangements

Most of our funeral homes remain open to all visitors at this time, in order to support our clients and the bereaved.

In line with broader government advice to minimise unnecessary social contact, we would encourage you to call your local funeral home before visiting in order to determine how best we can support you to carry out the funeral arrangements.

Where possible, most if not all of the funeral arrangements may be carried out over the telephone, over email or via postal services.

For all those who do visit our premises, we would encourage usage of our washroom facilities for handwashing and we would encourage the usage of our supplies of such things as tissues and hand sanitisers when required.
We would also appreciate it if visits to our funeral homes could be a maximum of two people at any one time.

The funeral

It remains the case that funerals can continue in the United Kingdom. Regarding attendance at the funeral service itself, those in self-isolation must continue to self-isolate and not attend a funeral. In addition, we would encourage all our clients to try to restrict the number of mourners attending the funeral service if at all possible, in order to minimise social contact. We recognise how unfortunate but also how necessary these measures are.

In order to support social distancing measures, we are regrettably unable to provide limousines for funerals at this time. We very much appreciate that this may be disappointing, and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

High standards

We would like to reassure all our clients that Funeral Partners already has rigorous hygiene controls in place when it comes to handling any deceased person in our care, and this includes any deceased who may have died with an infection. These controls include the use of specialised health and safety equipment, along with specific ways of working so that we are able to maintain clinical levels of hygiene and safe working environments.

24-hour support

If you have any particular questions regarding Coronavirus, then please speak to your local funeral home at any time. Our telephone support is available 24 hours a day.

John Hogg Funeral Director Team Planning a Boxing Day Dip

John Hogg Funeral Directors teams in Sunderland are preparing and bracing themselves for a chilly Boxing Day dip. They’re doing it, not only to raise some much needed funds and awareness for the Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Cancer Patient Support Team, but also in support of a friend and member of the John Hogg team, Steve Gunby, who himself, is currently undergoing chemotherapy for Myeloma – which is a form of cancer which thins bones.

Steve said ‘After hurting my back whilst lifting, an X-ray found I had fractured my spine. Further tests revealed I have Myeloma, a very individual type of cancer which thins your bones and explains why my back fractured’.

Steve has been truly humbled by the support he’s received, especially from the Phoenix Unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital, Macmillan Cancer Care, friends and family but also his work colleagues at John G Hogg funeral directors. ‘They wanted to do something in support, came up with the team name “Gunby’s Gunners,” and decided to do the Boxing Day dip, to help raise money for Sunderland Cancer Patient Support; who not only assist you through your treatment practically and emotionally, but your family too’.

The team of 20 people who are preparing to brave the chill are not only doing this for their friend, but also in memory of all the people they have had the privilege to care for at John Hogg Funeral Directors.

‘It’s often easy to lose sight of the impact a cancer diagnosis can have on your immediate family. Without the combined help of everyone concerned, this journey would be a very different experience.
Any donations would be most gratefully received in support of City Hospitals Sunderland’.

If you would like to support the fantastic work of Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Cancer Care, or for further information, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/steve-gunby


200 Funeral Homes and Growing as Funeral Partners Invests in Northern Ireland

The UK’s third largest funeral business, Funeral Partners, has announced significant expansion with 18 funeral homes in Northern Ireland becoming part of its high-quality network.
The new businesses bring the total number of funeral homes in the Funeral Partners network to almost 200, maintaining the heritage of more than 100 family businesses across the UK. Funeral Partners becomes the leading funeral provider in Northern Ireland.

Chief Executive Officer Sam Kershaw said: “As our first funeral acquisition outside the UK mainland, these 18 Funeral Services Northern Ireland branches represent significant growth for Funeral Partners and an important addition to our high-quality network of businesses.

“These well-established funeral businesses have excellent reputations in their local communities and we look forward to working with the local teams and investing in the businesses to ensure they continue to provide a caring and professional service to local families in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.”

The funeral homes include century-old Belfast businesses James Brown & Sons and Houston & Williamson, Bairds of Antrim, which was founded in the late nineteenth century, Doggarts of Newtownards and other respected businesses in Belfast, Portadown, Derry/Londonderry, Dungannon, Larne and Carrickfergus.
Regional Operations Manager Shona Burke, who will lead the renamed Funeral Partners Northern Ireland region, had been working with Funeral Services Northern Ireland for two years after many years working in retail services.

Shona said: “I’m looking forward to working with Funeral Partners, because they are fully funeral-focused and very keen for us to keep our heritage. They understand there are different challenges providing funeral services in Northern Ireland, as we operate differently from the mainland.
“These differences include the way we look after the deceased and the strong and very important traditions in the region. Far more families choose a burial for their loved one and these normally take place within three days. Funeral Partners understands these cultural differences.”

Third generation Funeral Director James Brown MBE, whose grandfather founded James Brown & Sons, said: “I have been greatly encouraged by Funeral Partners’ willingness to engage with Funeral Services Northern Ireland staff but, more importantly, to listen to their views.

“I have every confidence that the already excellent service which FSNI staff provide to bereaved people will be enhanced as a result of the change of ownership.”

Fourth generation Funeral Director Jon Baird, whose great grandfather James founded Bairds of Antrim, said: “Funeral Partners share our core values, they understand that the families we work with are the foundation of all funeral businesses.
“I feel it’s a very positive step because Funeral Partners understand the business, they understand why we’re here and what we do and that is being part of the community, looking after the community and supporting local families.”

£300 off a Pre-Paid Plan NOW

Choice are offering a national discount of £300 OFF a funeral plan if you purchase one of our pre-paid plans before 30 November 2019

Simply enter promotional code SON300 on our website, or call or visit your local Funeral Partners branch.

Find out who your nearest branch is at http://www.funeralpartners.co.uk

Choice is a pre-paid funeral plan from Funeral Partners – a national network of over 170 local branches.

There are many different ways to arrange and pay for your plan and there are options to suit all budgets. For more information, call us on 01803 298243

Keeping the Emergency Services in the Sky

A N Abraham Funeral Directors has raised £900 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

The money was raised during a Choice funeral plan promotion where for every plan purchased the branch donated £50 to their chosen charity.

The cheque for £900 was presented to Laura Lawton, Regional Fundraiser for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, when she visited the South Elmsall branch on Tuesday 11th June.

The money will support Yorkshire Air Ambulance to continue to provide a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service for patients who have suffered trauma or serious medical emergencies. To keep both of Yorkshire’s air ambulances maintained and in the air the charity need to raise £12,000 per day and all donations go directly towards this life-saving service.

(L-R Brett Benton, Chris Whitehouse, Laura Lawton)

If you would like to help, or for more information, visit https://www.yorkshireairambulance.org.uk/


Choice Helping Levi’s Star Shine Brightly

Wakefield Funeral Service were proud to hand over a cheque for £250 to a local charity, Levi’s Star.  The money was raised by donating £50 from each Choice pre-paid plan sold throughout the promotional period.

Barry Normington, Wakefield Funeral Services Funeral Director said;

‘We picked this charity to help raise awareness and much needed funds to support the fantastic work they do across the region.  We’re all so proud that we could help them carry on supporting local families and children’

Based in Yorkshire, Levi’s Star is a small hardworking charity with a big heart, dedicated to supporting children and young people diagnosed with a brain tumour. Since becoming a registered charity in 2008, they have worked tirelessly to raise funds for children with brain tumours and to raise awareness of this devastating illness.

To support Levi’s Star, or for more information, visit http://www.levisstar.co.uk/

Handing over the charity cheque
(L-R David Whitworth, Vicky Ringer, Joan Wain, Val Ringer, Barry Normington)

£300 off a Choice Plan NOW!

Choice are offering a national discount of £300 OFF a funeral plan if you purchase one of our pre-paid plans before 31 July 2019

Simply enter promotional code JJ300 on our website, or call or visit your local Funeral Partners branch.

Find out who your nearest branch is at https://www.funeralpartners.co.uk/

Choice is a pre-paid funeral plan from Funeral Partners – a national network of over 170 local branches.

There are many different ways to arrange and pay for your plan and there are options to suit all budgets. For more information, call us on 01803 298243