Exciting news! Our 2021 Dying Matters Awareness Week events are taking place online…
Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors was first established in 1855. The company now has four offices across West Sussex – in Billingshurst, Crawley, Horsham, and Hurstpierpoint – and continues to serve the communities it is based in with compassion and expertise. The organisation supports the UK’s annual Dying Matters Awareness Week, which takes place in May. Today, Community Co-Ordinator, Becky, announces the company’s planned events for 2021…
As ‘social distancing’ became part of our everyday lexicon, our 2020 Dying Matters Awareness Week events were promptly cancelled. At the time, digital events weren’t an option for us – unfortunately, we were technologically-unprepared, but it was also a case of not being sure that it was right to promote ourselves, and the Dying Matters campaign, at such an early stage of the pandemic. Death had become an issue that more people were facing up to and discussing, but because the death rate had very sadly risen sharply, rather than because a powerful campaign had been caught hold of.
So we waited. The advertising we had booked to promote our planned events in advance was donated to charities. We continued to serve those who needed us to the best of our abilities, and in line with industry and government guidance. We looked after each other, supporting our colleagues through this unique situation.
By the end of 2020, things were a little more predictable and, without the pandemic now being at a later stage, we were more prepared. This meant that we were able to discuss our annual Remembrance Service moving to become a digital event far earlier, and manage the production of it. It was something of a test for us in many ways – one significant concern was that people simply wouldn’t be interested, and we were overwhelmed when this was far from the case. We are very much hoping to run an in-person service again – whether it will be this year or have to wait until 2022 remains to be seen – but due to our positive experience and the demand demonstrated, we will also be running a digital version. It has been an important and fantastic lesson learned.
It’s also given us the confidence to organise more online events, beginning with this year’s Dying Matters Awareness Week campaign. Again, we will hope to again engage with people face to face, but that’s not a realistic possibility for now, with Dying Matters Awareness Week falling during week commencing 10th May this year. Many of the restrictions we currently live under will still be in place, and we support this, as well as the vaccination programme which is underway. So again, we are drawn to organise digital events for the time being.
I’m really pleased to share that we’ll be running two online events during Dying Matters Awareness Week. The theme this year is ‘Are you in a good place to die?’, which we think has a lot of synergy with our aims as an organisation. We are always supportive of those who would like more information on how to prepare in advance of their death, and specifying details for your funeral is one of many ways to do this.
In order to help, we’re offering one session as a collaboration with industry experts, and another for you to ask us anything you like! Being part of the wider funeral industry is something that we’re really proud of, and we make the most of our association memberships by liaising with other experts. On Tuesday 11th May, we’re welcoming five experts for a panel event, during which we’ll discuss all aspects of the funeral industry and their work within it with them, as well as putting your questions to them.
Our guests for the panel are:
- Felicity Elliot, owner of LadyLissy Floristry
- Anthony Hill, Managing Director of Somerset Willow
- Terri Shanks, Founder of The Fellowship of Professional Celebrants
- Clare Shaw, author of Clare Shaw Children’s Books
- Sally Swann, Partnership Manager at MuchLoved
I’ve participated in some similar events to this during the last few years, and I always enjoy panel events – it’s great to hear the panellists chat to each other, and see what is sparked by their conversation, as well as their responses to questions from the audience. Our Manager, Abi Pattenden, will be facilitating the panel, posing any questions we receive in advance, as well as any which come in on the day, or as a result of the chat progressing.
It may be that you’d like to know how each person got started in the funeral industry, or what inspired them. You might want to ask what their career highlight has been, or what they’re most looking forward to about the future. It can be anything you like! I won’t tell you too much about the panellists in advance, as they’re all happy to introduce themselves, but needless to say that some of them operate within other industries in addition to supporting the funeral profession, whereas others are fully-focused on funerals.
For our second event of the week, on Thursday 13th May, Abi and I will be chatting all things Freeman Brothers and funeral operations specifically. The company has a long history and remains family-run to this day, so even that is an interesting story to share. But Abi and I have both come from different business backgrounds, and our careers have developed in separate ways. She’ll be happy to tell you all about her journey to becoming President of the National Association of Funeral Directors – a role which is traditionally held by a business owner, and someone who has spent their entire life in the industry – and answer anything you’d like to know about our work specifically. My focus is on our Community programme as well as marketing the business, and having worked for many different brands in the past, I will be the first one to tell you that doing this kind of role within the funeral industry is a completely different experience again!
You’re again welcome to submit any questions in advance, or join us online on the day to be inspired by our conversation. We’ll be monitoring the chat box throughout the event, in case you want to send us something whilst we’re talking.
At Freeman Brothers, we’re happy to discuss your needs on any day of the year. Our advice is always freely-given and without obligation, as our wish is to help people better understand funerals and the process behind them – sharing information is important to us. We’d gladly discuss your needs at any time, whether publicly or privately, and we always welcome Dying Matters Awareness Week with open arms, as it’s a time for those across the industry to join together and support each other in widening the conversation, highlighting it on a national level.
There have been times during the pandemic when we have purposefully stepped back in terms of promotion: with the death rate increased, and many people facing being bereaved at a physical distance, or suffering from illness themselves, it has felt wrong to push our services to the fore. There were also times when there was such frequent change that we had to focus hard on maintaining the safety of our customers and ourselves. However, it remains important to continue to be respectful, but to also make the most of recent experience being uppermost in the public consciousness – it is an opportunity to reflect on how a difficult time can be eased via planning and conversation.
You can register now for either (or both!) of our events, and we will send you the link to join nearer the time. Do also forward this to anyone else who may be interested – although the second event will focus on our services, much of the discussion will be relevant no matter where you are. We’re looking forward to ensuring that people are, indeed, in a good place.
Tel: 01403 254590
If you have an urgent query, please call 01403 254590. This number is answered by one our staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the quickest way to reach us.
Tel: 01403 785133
25 & 27 Brighton Road
Tel: 01293 540000
126 High Street
Tel: 01273 831497