Annual Report
Year Ended 31st March 2002

The Cremation Society of Great Britain

Report of the Council

The members of the Council, who are the trustees of the charity and are also directors of the charity for the purposes of the Companies Act, submit their annual report and the audited financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2002. The trustees have adopted the provisions of the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) "Accounting and Reporting by Charities" issued in October 2000 in preparing the annual report and financial statements of the charity. They have also taken this opportunity to prepare group accounts incorporating the consolidated figures for its subsidiary company, the London Cremation Company plc and the associated charity, Golders Green Foundation.


Objects of the Charity

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

To achieve these objectives the charity:

  • through the establishment, ownership, management of or investment in crematoria, encourages the highest operational and ethical standards in cremation practice.
  • holds regular cremation conferences, organises meetings and lectures and fosters research.
  • publishes a quarterly magazine Pharos International.
  • publishes directories of crematoria.
  • collates and disseminates information on cremation related topics.
  • liaises and co-operates with other organisations, government departments and individuals, both nationally and internationally, on cremation matters.

Organisational Structure

The Council is elected by the members and currently consists of eight members and meets quarterly. The day to day operations of the charity are managed by the Secretary and his staff.

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 the group and of the net income or expense of the Society and the group 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.

Related Parties

The charity has one subsidiary company, The London Cremation Company plc, a company registered in England, which owns and operates crematoria at Golders Green, Woking St John's, St Marylebone and Banbury.

The charity has a close relationship with Golders Green Foundation, which is a registered charity. It has the power to appoint the Trustees of Golders Green Foundation.

Review of Activities and Future Development

The results for the year are shown in the consolidated summary income and expenditure account and the consolidated statement of financial activities. The retained net income of the group for the year on unrestricted general funds was £504,301 as compared to net expenditure of £61,991 in the previous year.

The London Cremation Company plc

During the year under review the Company's profit before taxation amounted to £594,660, including an exceptional item of £463,976 from the planned disposal of fixed assets. Excluding exceptional items, profit improved by 53% to £130,684. Since the year end there has been further disposals of fixed assets resulting in gains of £484,589

The Company carried out 5,211 cremations during the year and is in the course of building a new crematorium for North East Kent to be known as The Garden of England Crematorium.

Golders Green Foundation

The excess of income over expenditure for the year before unrealised profit or revaluation of investments amounted to £4,783 (2001: deficit £13,655). No grants or donations were made during the year (2001: £19,436.

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 5 April 1999 from the Inland Revenue. However, charities are, under transitional rules, receiving compensation for the loss of these tax credits for a five year period reducing on a sliding scale. After 5 April 2004 the Society's total UK 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 are taking all reasonable steps to mitigate the adverse effects of this change in tax legislation.

Value Added Tax

As a result of changes in its exempt and charitable activities on which it cannot reclaim Value Added Tax the Society's irrecoverable VAT has risen substantially to £6,813 (2001: £400).


The official handover of the Society's archives to the University of Durham's Palace Green Library (Special Collections Section) took place on 2 November 2001. The value of the archive has become immediately recognisable as a unique source of living history and is in much use by the students of the University as it is by the public and research academics alike. The Society's archives at Durham can be accessed via the internet.

On the day of the handover the Society was represented by its President The Rt. Hon. The Earl Grey, Council Member Mr Stephen White, and the Society's Secretary Mr Roger Arber. During the visit they were given a tour of the Library by Research Archivist Miss Beth Rainey, and the Chief Librarian Dr John Hall. Their host for the day was Professor Douglas Davies who escorted the party to the University's Theological Department where a number of students gave presentations on their experience of the archives as they were all either writing dissertations or completing research work on cremations.

The formal handover ceremony involved the Society's President and the Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor John Anstey.


The Society's website at continues to be the leading website of any national British cremation organisation. Visited by the public, academics and those involved in the death care profession it provides a rich source of material on all aspects of cremation.

As a reference source on cremation legislation it continues to prove particularly helpful to those involved in the various inquiries and reviews involving the cremation movement that have recently taken place or are presently ongoing.

Directory of Crematoria

Steady demand continues for the Society's Directory of Crematoria with publication levels continuing to hold steady at last year's level.

Whilst access to the content of the Directory has now been widened due to a licensing agreement with Chadwyck-Healey Ltd under their KnowUK website agreement, there has been no significant increase in the Society's royalty income from this source over last year.

A number of competing directories are emerging in one form or another, although unlike the Society's none appear to be updated regularly via the use of annual questionnaires as is the Society's practice. The Society will maintain the integrity of its publication under its copyright.

Annual Conference

The Society's annual conference held in July 2001 at Bournemouth contained a wide variety of important and topical subjects for the cremation movement. Review of Process Guidance Notes - What the Future Holds and the Manufacturers' Open Forum on the same subject generated a great deal of interest. International papers on Cremation in Iceland and Cremation in Australia were complemented by presentations on Cremation or Burial of Body PartsPacemaker Explosions at Crematoria, andDentists and Mercury. Cultural and theological aspects were covered by papers on Changing Hindu Attitudes to Cremation in the UKBronze Age CremationA Symbolic Space: Rural Myth, the Great War and the Growth of Cremation, and Body Parts and Bereavement. Consumer interest was covered by The Office of Fair Trading Investigation into Funerals, whilst both the profession and public interest in the Shipman Inquiry was covered by Shipman and Others: Current Inquiries Bearing on Cremation. As always the conference concluded with the ever popular Presidents' Panel.

Pharos International

The Society's quarterly journal Pharos International, which is also the official journal of the International Cremation Federation, continues to attract favourable comments. A regular production schedule has now been established and maintained. From January 2002 the Society started to deal with certain elements of the journal's production in-house as part of a plan to reduce production costs. These have not yet had a significant effect during the short time in which they have been in force, but are expected to result in material savings during 2002/2003.

Funeral Ombudsman Scheme

The Society is a strong supporter of the Funeral Ombudsman Scheme (FOS) established in 1994 to provide an independent and impartial scheme of redress for the public. It was therefore a great disappointment when the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) decided to leave the scheme. The Funeral Standards Council (FSC) have indicated that they will now be leaving the Scheme and as a result there will be insufficient funds for it to continue. It will therefore cease operation at the end of September 2002.

Ombudsman Schemes have merged or have been combined, but this is probably the first time that a scheme has ceased through lack of funding from its main members. It is very hard to understand why, particularly when the cost is so small, equating to approximately 50 pence per funeral. At one stage the Scheme covered nearly 70% of all funerals in the United Kingdom, but unfortunately the public will no longer have a single scheme of redress and will have to rely on at least three different schemes operated by the three main funeral directing associations. One would hope that in future, the Office of Fair Trading will take note of the situation and act appropriately.

Office for National Statistics

Following the consultation document Registration: Modernising a Vital Service issued by the Office for National Statistics, a White Paper entitled Civil Registration: Vital Change was produced. The Society took the opportunity to make various representations, focussing on a number of points including:

  • The inclusion of the actual place of the disposal of the body in the death register
  • Inclusion in the register of whether the ashes had been:
    (a) finally disposed of at the crematorium, or
    (b) retained by the crematorium pending instructions from the applicant for cremation, or
    (c) delivered to the applicant for cremation and removed from the crematorium.
  • As everyone is entitled to examine burial records, there should be a similar entitlement to examine cremation registers.

The Civil Registration Review Team has confirmed that these points will be addressed and that any proposed legislative changes will be implemented by way of an Order under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001. The first stage of the process will be the publication of a further consultation document and the timetable for this is for the end of 2002, giving the Society a further opportunity to comment on proposals.

Retained Organs Commission

At the Society's conference in July 2001, Mr Steve Catling, Chief Executive of the Retained Organs Commission, took the opportunity to join speakers presenting a paper on Cremation or Burial of Body Parts. Delegates were given the opportunity to question him about the activities of the Retained Organs Commission and its ultimate objectives.

Following further consultation with interested parties, including the Society, the Commission published in February 2002 a further consultation document dealing with

  • Unclaimed and unidentifiable organs and tissue
  • A possible regulatory framework

The Society's main interest is in Section 4 of the document dealing with respectful use and disposal of unclaimed and unidentifiable organs and tissue. The Society will monitor the situation and it will make further representations when appropriate during the various consultation exercises which are intended to lead ultimately to the replacement or amendment of existing legislation on this subject.

The Shipman Inquiry

The Society continues to assist the Shipman Inquiry Team by providing information about the practice of cremation in England and Wales, particularly on legislative issues.

The Inquiry will be considering proposals for changes to the existing system of death and cremation certification in a series of public seminars. In the autumn of 2002 the Inquiry intends to inform the Society of proposals for discussion and invite its comments. The subjects to be addressed in the seminars will include

  • Possible redesign of forms for death/cremation certification
  • Consideration of how a medical examiner system might work, including the circumstances in which a death would be referred to the medical examiner, the role and functions of the medical examiner, and the investigative tools which might be available to the medical examiner
  • Consideration of the working of coronial and medical examiner systems abroad
  • Consideration of how a medical examiner system could inter-relate with the work of the coroner

The Society is presently assisting the Inquiry Team by carrying out a national survey on its behalf into the completion of Confirmatory Medical Certificate Form C by Medical Referees.

The Environment Sub-Committee Inquiry into Cemeteries

Following the publication of the Environment Sub-Committee's Inquiry into Cemeteries, a Burial and Cemeteries Advisory Group was formed to consider and address the recommendations arising from the Report. The Society's Chairman was appointed a member of the Group to represent the Society's views on matters in so much as they relate to cremation.

One of the main tasks of the Group is to undertake a major review of burial law and draft proposals are presently being considered by the Group in this connection.

Review of Coroner Services

The Home Office appointed a Group to review the arrangements in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for death certification, inquests, post mortem examinations and the full range of services provided by Coroners. The Society was invited to meet with the Group in order to raise any points that it considered relevant to its terms of reference.

Subsequently the Review Group formed a Reference Group of individuals and organisations with specific expertise and interest in the topics under review. The Society was pleased to accept an invitation to participate as a member of the Reference Group.

It is the intention of the Review Group to publish a consultation paper setting out the issues which the Review Group plans to focus on in the final phase of their review, and outline some possible changes which they might recommend to the death certification and coroner systems. As a member of the Reference Group the Society will be invited to comment. It is intended to complete the review during the early months of 2003.


The Society's Secretary continues to serve as the Secretary-General of the International Cremation Federation, a position which he has held for the last 12 years. He will be retiring from his position at the forthcoming Congress to be held in Barcelona in 2003 at the end of his fourth term of office. The office of the Society acts as the Secretariat for the Federation, coordinating the work of its various sub-committees.

The Federation continues to widen its expertise and influence, and in addition to environmental matters is constantly focussing its efforts on lifting restrictions on the practice of cremation where this is presently the case in Europe. The Federation is presently assisting the Greek cremation organisation and has made representations to their Government Ministers in this respect.

The Federation continues to advise and assist other individuals and organisations who wish to establish cremation facilities, especially in areas of the eastern Europe where these are not presently available, i.e. Lithuania for example.

Following an initiative from the German Institute for Standardisation there is a proposal to standardise funeral services in Europe. Presently some 12 countries, including the United Kingdom, are represented on the European Standard Body (CEN) formed to deal with this matter. The proposal to develop a service standard which could cover terminology, criteria for provision of funeral services, and possibly qualification requirements, is being monitored carefully. The Society's role is to represent the cremation interests of the UK as a member of the National Committee operating under the auspices of the British Standards Institute. The Society's Secretary is a member of the National Committee.

Funerals are intrinsically cultural affairs. Whilst there is merit in the proposals, the Society would not wish to see regulation and the inevitable red tape stifle our cultural heritage expressed through the medium of the traditional funeral.


The results of the research jointly commissioned and funded by the Cremation Society of Great Britain and the Federation of British Cremation Authorities was published in a report entitled Review of Emissions from Crematoria in the UK in autumn 2001. Its findings, proving that the levels of mercury were far below previously assumed levels, were accepted by the Environment Agency. Following the publication of the Review, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, asked the Environment Agency to prepare a report on the whole issue and advised that once they have considered this they will consult on their proposals.

The cremation movement has yet to be informed of what progress is being made. The first draft of the proposed Review of Guidance Notes was circulated as long ago as December 1999, and over two and a half years on the matter is still under review. Until such time as the situation has been resolved, the uncertainty facing the cremation movement will inevitably curtail new crematoria construction and create anxiety for existing authorities, especially when considering the future funding of their facilities. It is hoped that such uncertainty and anxiety will not continue for much longer, although the government's track record so far does not give cause for optimism.

Joint Life Member Certificates

The transfer of engagements of the Pharos Assurance Friendly Society (formerly known as the Cremation Assurance Friendly Society) which was responsible for underwriting the Cremation Society's liability to pay claims under its joint life membership certificates was referred to in the last Report of the Council. It was also reported that the transfer was primarily an internal arrangement and that joint life membership certificate holders would continue to be serviced by the Society who would deal with settlement of claims. It was emphasised that there should be no perceptible change in the relationship between the Society and its joint life membership certificate holders. We are pleased to confirm that that has been the case and the arrangement with the Nottingham Friendly Society, to whom the engagements of Pharos Assurance were transferred, is working smoothly.

Following the transfer of engagements and in the light of claims experience under founder member certificates, it may be necessary to reassess the provision for future liabilities bearing in mind the claims experience. This matter will be under review during the coming year.

Memorandum and Articles of Association

The work on drafting the Society's new Memorandum and Articles has been a long and complex task, and has been carried out by a special Working Group appointed by the Council for this purpose. One of the proposed fundamental changes has been to emphasise in the new Memorandum that in order to promote the Society's objectives it should have the power "to encourage the highest operational and ethical standards in cremation practice through the establishment, ownership, management of or investment in crematoria and associated facilities, and by such other means as the Council thinks fit".

The final draft of the proposed new Memorandum and Articles is now with our legal advisers who are liaising with the Charity Commission on the Society's behalf. Until we receive confirmation from the Commission that they have no objection to the proposed new Memorandum and Articles, the Society cannot call an Extraordinary General Meeting and submit the necessary Resolutions to members for their approval. However, we are now at an advanced stage in this matter and the Council would like, if at all possible, to be in a position to call for the necessary EGM by the end of the year.


A new computerised administration system has been installed at the Society's office. Whilst staff have undergone a degree of training the full programme has yet to be completed. With such a small staff it will take some time to update and transfer the necessary data to the new system, especially with regard to membership records. Nevertheless, the new system is already having a beneficial effect on the Society's operations.

Brecon House

The acquisition of Brecon House was a prudent move by the Society, providing long term financial security. With the experience of continuing low interest rates for the present it is proving to be a good investment. As an investment property the Society's careful management ensures that it is maintained in good order.

Brecon House continues to provide a fully staffed, independent permanent office providing a service from 9am to 5pm, five days a week, to deal with enquiries from the public and existing or prospective cremation authorities. Its staff and up to date administration system ensures that it can provide an efficient, first class service.

Council Members

The Society's Council already comprises highly qualified members prominent in their individual fields of expertise. Nevertheless, it is the Council's intention to increase its expertise and widen its influence through the appointment of further appropriate members whenever possible.

Future Development

The Society will continue to consolidate its existing relationships with allied organisations as well as participating in discussions on cremation related topics on which it can speak with authority. It will co-operate with kindred organisations when the cause of cremation is being promoted and will at all times, through its interests in cremation companies, promote the practice of cremation to the highest standard.

It will continue to consolidate relationships already established with government and departments such as the Home Office, Office for National Statistics, Department of Trade and Industry, Office of Fair Trading, Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Environment Agency, Review of Coroner Services, and the Retained Organs Commission. It will cultivate relationships with other government departments as appropriate and will continue to contribute to any Inquiries or Reviews that may be relevant to the cremation profession.

As a priority the Society will continue to play an active role in international affairs through its involvement in the International Cremation Federation, and the use of its offices as the Secretariat to co-ordinate the activities of the Executive and various sub-committees of the Federation.

The Society will seek the approval of members to a new Memorandum and Articles of Association incorporating greater emphasis on its involvement with crematoria in order to promote its aims as well as making provision for various forms of membership.

Following the installation of a new computerised office administration system it will continue inputting data in order to make the best possible use of the facility.

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

Reserves Policy

The Council has reviewed the reserves of the Society. This review encompassed the nature of the major income and expenditure streams, the need to match income and expenditure and the nature of the Society's reserves. The Society's principal sources of funds are the income from the investment portfolio and the resources generated by activities in furtherance of the Charity's objects. The Council also considered the nature of the Society's assets, which include the investment portfolio, investment property, the investment in its subsidiary company and the assets used directly for charitable purposes.

Resulting from this review, the Council have come to the conclusion that the reserves represented by the investment in the subsidiary should be considered separately. To enable the Society to continue to meets its objectives, to operate efficiently, to carry out its future plans and to provide a buffer for unexpected costs, the Council conclude that an unrestricted general reserve, excluding the value of the investment in the subsidiary, of approximately £1,000,000 should currently be maintained.

The Society also has a restricted fund that is represented by cash at bank and other specific net assets. The movements on this fund are detailed at Note 22 to the financial statements.

Risk Management

The Council regularly review the major risks which the Society may be exposed to and in particular those relating to the operation and finances of the Society. The Council are satisfied that maintaining the unrestricted general reserves at the level stated above will provide sufficient resources for the foreseeable future.

Market Value of Freehold and Leasehold 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 £1,669,819. In the absence of a professional valuation of all the properties the Council are unable to quantify that excess.

Officers and Council

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 Honourable The Earl Grey
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp (Chairman)
R.G. Roberts (Honorary Treasurer)
H. Thomas C.B.E.
S.R.G. White
Professor G.F. Woodroffe
Ms. C. Lambert

On the 3 April 2002 Dr Stephen Leadbeatter was appointed to the Council and will be proposed for election at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting. Dr Leadbeatter is a Senior Lecturer and Consultant in forensic pathology and a prominent Home Office pathologist at the Wales Institute of Forensic Medicine. His appointment widens further the expertise of the Council.

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 £53,800 during the year ended 31st March 2002.

The Right Honourable The Earl Grey
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp
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
  31/3/02 1/4/01 31/3/02 1/4/01
The Right Honourable The Earl Grey     100 100
R.G. Roberts     250 250
H. Thomas C.B.E. 1,182 1,182 1,000 1,000
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp     100  
Non-Beneficial Trustee Interests:        
The Right Honourable The Earl Grey 220,000 220,000    

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

Corporate Governance

The subsidiary company, The London Cremation Company plc, is a listed company and operates in full compliance with the applicable provisions of the Code of Best Practice, set out in section 1 of the Combined Code.


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


Date: 21 August 2002
R.N. Arber, Secretary