Annual Report
Year Ended 31st March 1999

The Cremation Society of Great Britain

Report of the Council

The Council have pleasure in presenting their report and financial statements for the year ended 31st March 1999.


Statement of Council Members' Responsibilities

Company law requires us as council members to prepare financial statements for each financial year which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Society and of the net income or expense of the Society for that period. In preparing those financial statements we are required to:

  • select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently;
  • make judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent;
  • state whether applicable accounting standards have been followed, subject to any material departures disclosed and explained in the financial statements;
  • prepare the financial statements on a going concern basis unless it is inappropriate to presume that the Society will continue in business.

We are responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the Society and enable us to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Companies Act 1985. We are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Society and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.

Principal Activity

The Society was founded in 1874 by the late Sir Henry Thompson, Bart., to promote and establish the practice of cremation for the disposal of the bodies of dead persons and to join with local authorities and other bodies, or persons, for this purpose.

Review of Business and Future Development

The financial statements show that the surplus for the financial year was £294,475 compared with £575,767 the previous year. Realised investment losses recognised in the year amounted to £1,108 (1998: gain £20,859). Unrealised investment gains recognised in the year totalled £328,181 (1998: £584,616). Despite the overall surplus achieved, the Society has a net expenditure deficit before investment gains of £32,598 (1998: £29,708).

Establishment costs are still the prominent contributing factor to the net expenditure deficit. As mentioned in last year's report, despite a set back in purchasing a freehold property the Society continues to review all property options. To this end it has entered into negotiations to purchase the freehold of Brecon House where it presently leases accommodation. The Society's offer for the property has been accepted and the necessary legal formalities are being carried out as well as the setting up of suitable funding arrangements.

The proposed acquisition has been referred to the Charity Commission which has confirmed that the Society's existing Memorandum of Association provides suitable powers for such an investment.

Abolition of the Recovery of Tax Credits on Dividend Income

Following the abolition of the payment of advance corporation tax by companies paying dividends in the 1997 Budget, the Society, in common with other charities, is unable to reclaim the associated tax credits on dividends receivable after 5th April 1999 from the Inland Revenue. However, charities will, under transitional rules, receive compensation for the loss of these tax credits for a five year period reducing on a sliding scale. After 5th April 2004 the Society's total U.K. dividend income could therefore have been reduced by 20% of the 1998/99 level subject to changes in the market and yields. The Society's brokers will take all reasonable steps to mitigate the adverse effects of this change in tax legislation.

Pharos International

Every crematorium in the UK as well as organisations and societies in 30 countries around the world receive the Society's quarterly journal Pharos International. It continues to be well received following changes in format and editorials express much more forcefully the views of the Society, particularly on practices and developments that it considers to be unacceptable to the cremation movement.

Directory of Crematoria

The Society's Directory of Crematoria continues to be the definitive publication of its kind with each issue nearly always sold out. The Directory's content is updated annually and plans are in hand to widen the information published to include details of disabled facilities at all crematoria in the country. Discussions are also in hand with a reputable national organisation providing public service information to enable the Directory information to be accessed via the Internet.


The Society continues to be approached for guidance and advice by those interested in establishing cremation facilities. Most enquiries emanate from the private sector which have been responsible for the last ten crematoria built in Great Britain. In addition to the establishment of cremation facilities the Society is approached increasingly by cremation authorities regarding operational matters and the Society is happy to be of assistance in this respect. As part of its normal activities the Society continues to promote the practical and environmental benefits of cremation in co-operation with kindred national and international organisations.

Funeral Ombudsman Scheme

The Society has been actively promoting the Funeral Ombudsman Scheme. Since the Society's subsidiary became the first operating cremation authority to join the scheme some 60% of all private crematoria are now members. In addition the Scheme covers 70% of funerals, as well as a substantial part of the funeral planning market for pre-paid funerals.

There can be no doubt that the existence of an independent Funeral Ombudsman Scheme is doing much to protect the consumer, help settle unresolved complaints as amicably as possible, and encourage a high standard of service.

In November 1999 a one day conference will be held based on a review of the first five years of the Funeral Ombudsman Scheme. The Under Secretary of State for Competition and Consumer Affairs will be the opening speaker. Among active participants will be the funeral industry's main professional associations, consumer organisations, and bereavement groups. The programme will include a discussion panel on which the Society will be represented.

Memorandum and Articles of Association

The Society is liaising closely with its legal advisers and the Charity Commission on a review and update of its Memorandum and Articles of Association. This complex exercise is at an advanced stage and the new Memorandum and Articles of Association will reflect changes that have taken place in both charity and company law since they were last revised in 1977. The approval of new Memorandum and Articles of Association will be sought from members by way of an Extraordinary General Meeting of which appropriate notice will been given. As previously reported there will be a provision for various forms of new membership structures, but in the meantime the existing membership scheme is still available which provides members with various concessions relating to the Society's activities.


In January 1999 the Society launched its own Web Site which can be accessed at It provides a wide range of details about the Society, its formation and activities, together with other useful information about cremation. It also contains a unique section dealing with cremation legislation which is probably the most comprehensive of its kind available. The Society's web site also has links to other cremation-related web sites and a continuous process of updating and expanding the information on the Society's site is planned.


The main core of the work on the Society's archives being carried out by the Special Collections Section of the University of Durham has been dealt with and the remaining work is moving towards completion. Certain elements of the Society's archive collection will be web-mounted and, through the University's membership of the Consortium of University Research Libraries, access to the archive will be widened to those in the academic world. On completion of the archives' records a formal handing over ceremony will take place featuring representatives of the Society and the University.

125th Anniversary

On 12th January 1999 the Society held a one day conference at 64 Wimpole Street, not far from 35 Wimpole Street where Sir Henry Thompson, the first President and Founder of the Cremation Society, lived and where the Declaration establishing the Society was signed on 13th January 1874. A specially invited audience made up of national and international representatives from prominent death care organisations listened to presentations on The Founding Fathers and The First 125 Years presented by Council Members Mr. Stephen White and Rev. Dr. Peter Jupp respectively. During the day there was a debate on the motion: This House would regret the absence of public involvement in the provision and running of crematoria, as well as the launch of the Society's Internet Web Site. The highlight of the proceedings was a live telephone link-up with our colleagues from various cremation organisations around the world who wanted to express their congratulations on the Society's Anniversary and its contribution to the cremation movement on both a national and international level. Messages were received from Australia, United States of America, Italy, South Africa, France, the Senate in The Hague, the Netherlands. Our colleagues from Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands and Japan were also present in the audience. Presentations were made to the Society's President The Right Honourable The Earl Grey by Mr. Jan Sepers and Mr. Ulf Lagerström, Presidents of the Royal Dutch Cremation Society and the International Cremation Federation respectively.

The day concluded with the display of a commemorative plaque in tribute to Sir Henry Thompson and the work of the Society which it is proposed to affix to 35 Wimpole Street.

London Cremation Company Plc: Banbury Crematorium

The Society's subsidiary, The London Cremation Company plc, opened a new crematorium at Banbury, North Oxfordshire, at the beginning of 1999. Services are tailored to meet individual needs and service times of one hour are provided. The crematorium was established with the co-operation of Cherwell District Council and has been well received by the local community. The quality of service provided by the new facility reflects the Society's aspirations. The Service of Dedication conducted by the Bishop of Dorchester, The Right Rev. Anthony Russell, took place on 1st September 1999.


In May 1999 members of the Society's Council attended a Congress in The Hague to mark the 125th Anniversary of the Royal Dutch Cremation Society. The Congress was held in conjunction with General Council Meetings of the International Cremation Federation and we are pleased to report that our Secretary Mr. R.N. Arber was unanimously re-elected Secretary-General for a fourth consecutive term of three years. This appointment reflects and recognises the Society's international standing and long term commitment to the global cremation movement.

An important role for the Federation is the work of its Technical Sub-Committee. With changes to environmental legislation being contemplated in Europe that may have repercussions for the international cremation movement it is important to have representation at the highest level.

Future Development

The Society will continue to develop its relationship with allied organisations and participate in discussions on topics related to cremation and on which it can speak with authority. We shall also continue to cultivate our relationships with Government Departments such as the Home Office, the Office for National Statistics, Department of Trade and Industry, Office of Fair Trading, and Department of the Environment. Towards the latter part of 1999 there will be a review of the future role of the Civil Death Registration Service by the ONS and it has already confirmed that it will ensure that the Society has an opportunity to express its views during the period following the publication of the consultation document.

The Society will continue to play an active role in international affairs through its involvement in the International Cremation Federation.

Further development of the Society's Web Site will take place to ensure that the work and services offered by the Society become known to a wider audience and will help the public in a practical way through the provision of useful information.

The Society will also seek to conclude its negotiations for the purchase of Brecon House, which if successful will be a major and vital step towards improving its long term financial position. This will enable the Society to prosper and become more active.

Finally, the Council takes this opportunity of expressing its appreciation of the often heavy workload undertaken by the Society's small but dedicated staff.

Market Value of Freehold Land and Buildings

In the opinion of the Directors of the subsidiary company, the market value of its freehold land and buildings is considerably in excess of the net book value of £1,384,302. In the absence of a professional valuation of all the properties the Council are unable to quantify that excess.

Officers and Council

In line with its intention to enlarge further and strengthen the Council so that it is widely representative both of the cremation movement and of the major professions, Ms. Carole Lambert, Administrator of the National Association of Bereavement Services was appointed on 30th March 1999. With this latest appointment the Council's diversity of representation is unique in the cremation movement.

The Directors of the Society (who are honorary and known as Members of the Council) who served during the financial year, were as follows:-

The Right Hon. The Earl Grey
R.G. Roberts (Chairman and Honorary Treasurer)
Rev. Dr. P. Jupp
H. Thomas C.B.E.
S.R.G. White
Professor G.F. Woodroffe (Appointed 2nd April 1998)
Ms. C. Lambert (Appointed 30th March 1999)

The undermentioned members of the Council were also Directors of the Society's subsidiary, The London Cremation Company plc., from which they received total emoluments of £51,300 during the year ended 31st March 1999.

The Right Hon. The Earl Grey
R.G. Roberts
H. Thomas C.B.E.

The interest of members of the Council, including family interests, in the shares of the subsidiary at the beginning and end of the year, were as follows:

  Ordinary Shares Preference Shares
  31/3/99 1/4/98 31/3/99 1/4/98
R.G. Roberts     250 250
H. Thomas C.B.E. 103 100 1,000 1,000
Non-Beneficial Trustee Interests:        
The Right Honourable The Earl Grey 20,000 20,000    

The Right Honourable The Earl Grey is a Trustee of the Golders Green Foundation.

Mr. R. G. Roberts and Mr. H. Thomas are Trustees of the subsidiary's Staff Pension Fund.


The Society is a Company limited by guarantee not having a share capital, and is registered under the Charities Act 1960.


A resolution will be submitted to the forthcoming Annual General Meeting that Messrs. Larkings, Chartered Accountants, be re-appointed Auditors of The Society.


Date: 18th August 1999
R.N. Arber, Secretary