Annual Report
Year Ended 31st March 2004

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 2004. 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, the 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:

  • encourages the highest operational and ethical standards in cremation practice through the establishment, ownership, management of or investment in crematoria.
  • holds regular cremation conferences, organises meetings and lectures and fosters research.
  • 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.
  • publishes a quarterely magazine Pharos International.
  • publishes directories of crematoria.

Organisational Structure

The Council is elected by the members of the Society. It currently has ten members and meets approximately every two months. The day to day operations of the charity are managed by the Secretary and his staff to whom the Council offers warm thanks for their work and dedication.

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, Banbury and the Garden of England Crematorium in North East Kent.

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

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.

Review of Activities and Future Development

The Group 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 £14,148 as compared to net income of £593,218 as restated for the previous year.

The year continued to be characterised by the increasing role of the government in death care and associated environmental issues. Many of these have involved input from the Society and are referred to in this report.

The London Cremation Company plc

During the year under review the Company's profit before taxation amounted to £10,894. Excluding the exceptional profits on the planned disposal of fixed assets in the previous year profits before taxation amounted to £137,562.

During the year Application Note G of the Financial Reporting Standards 5 "Reporting the Substance of Transactions" came into force. Under this memorial income is recognised over the period of dedication, rather than wholly in the year of sale, as previously. The result of this change in income recognition policy was to reduce the profits for the year by £38,950 and to reduce the Company's assets by £1,204,240, being income carried forward to be recognised in future years (see notes 17 and 22 to the financial statements).

The Company carried out 5,425 cremations during the year an increase of 393. The Company's new crematorium, The Garden of England Crematorium in North East Kent opened in August 2003 and continues to set the highest levels of facilities and service to the public. Since opening it has attracted a great deal of favourable comment from the cremation industry.

Golders Green Foundation

The net outgoing resources for the year amounted to £3,192. A donation amounting to £8,000 was made to The University of Durham during the year.

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 were, 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 have taken reasonable steps to mitigate the adverse effects of this change in tax legislation.


The Society's archives stored at the University of Durham's Palace Green Library (Special Collections Section) continue to be an invaluable source of information to the public and research academics. During the academic year the archives were of particular assistance in the production of the publication This Grave and Burning Question. A Centenary History of Cremation in Australia by Robert Nicol as material for this book was not available in that country. The Society's archives at Durham can be accessed via the internet at


The Society's website at continues to provide free access to a rich source of material on all aspects of cremation in the United Kingdom. It is regularly visited by the public, academics and those involved in the death care profession.

As a reference source on cremation legislation it is particularly helpful for those involved in the various inquiries and reviews involving the cremation movement, death and bereavement services.

Directory of Crematoria

Although, as expected, competition from the publishers of other directories materialised during the year, this did not translate into loss of income. A strong demand for the publication continues and the 2003 edition was nearly sold out.

The popularity of the publication is due to its user-friendliness and the accuracy of information which is maintained by the use of annual questionnaires to cremation authorities to whom we offer our thanks for their kind assistance.

Access to the content of the Directory via public libraries continues through a licensing agreement with ProQuest under their KnowUK website agreement.

Despite its success the Directory will continue to face increasing competition from the producers of similar information in alternative formats.

Annual Conference

The Society's 2004 conference saw the introduction of a new format with the whole of the second day devoted to a seminar on the subject of "What is Respectful Disposal?" Speakers participating in the seminar examined both how one can go about determining criteria for respectful disposal, as well as what those criteria might be. The new format was an outstanding success and seminar speakers and their presentations comprised as follows: Dr. Piers Benn Persons, Bodies and Harming the Dead; The Rt. Revd. Dr. Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe Respectful Disposal - A Christian Perspective; Professor Douglas Davies Dignity and Identity in Life and Death; Anne Viney Respectful Disposal - Who Decides?; Tony McCarthy Rest In Pieces!; Dr Stephen Leadbeatter Respectful Disposal : A Pathologist's Perspective; Jenni Thomas OBE Meeting Families Needs Following the Death of a Baby, Whatever the Gestation; Julie Dunk Meaningful Funeral Services; Revd. Dr. Peter Jupp Respectful Disposal - A Perspective from "The Dead Citizens Charter".

The other two days of the conference addressed the problem of mercury emissions with papers entitled The New Process Guidance Notes - Are You Ready? and Emissions Trading in the Cremation Environment. Cultural and historical aspects were addressed in papers on The Return of Personal Property After Death and Disaster - Is There a Case for a National Standard? and From Welbeck to Woking: William Garstin and the First Cremations, and Resistance, Renewal or Reinvention? The Removal of Ashes from Crematoria. As usual the conference concluded with a lively and enjoyable debate during the ever popular Presidents' Panel.

Pharos International

First published in 1934 Pharos International continues to maintain its position as the leading cremation publication in Great Britain's cremation movement and one of the leading cremation publications world-wide, with copies presently circulating in 41 countries. It also continues to be the principal publication of the International Cremation Federation. Following production changes instigated last year we are pleased to report that Pharos continues to break even. Advertising income remains steady despite the loss of income from a major advertiser.

Regulation of "Entertainment" under the Licensing Act

Aware of the introduction of this new legislation to issue one license for premises providing both the sale of alcohol and public entertainment, the Society wrote to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport seeking clarification on various points at the Bill stage that could have repercussions for the cremation movement. Whilst the Church of England would be exempt from the requirements of the Bill it was not clear regarding the position of crematoria bearing in mind that whilst they were not religious buildings, they accommodated both religious and secular funeral services. Clarification was requested on the following points:

  • Does the Licensing Bill apply to both live and recorded music?
  • What is the position of music (live and recorded) played at the crematorium?
  • What is the position of music played at a memorial service and a service of remembrance?
  • What is the position if there is a collection during the service of remembrance?
  • The definition of "entertainment" includes "a performance of live music" and "any playing of recorded music".

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that the Licensing Bill did apply to both live and recorded music, but the Government had accepted that the performance of live music and playing of recorded music incidental to activities which were not themselves entertainment, should be exempt from the provisions of the Bill. They also confirmed that music accompanying a memorial or remembrance service is not viewed as providing entertainment for an audience but rather as a tribute to the deceased, and crematoria would not therefore require a premises licence. The full text of the Department's response was reproduced in Pharos International (Autumn 2003 Vol 69 Issue 3) and circulated to all crematoria in Great Britain.

Retained Organs Commission

The Council has been concerned that many of the reports to which it has responded over the recent past have mentioned the importance of the "respectful disposal" of dead bodies while giving little indication of how one judges whether any particular proposed disposal is respectful. This was particularly so of reports and consultation papers produced by the Retained Organs Commission and, as a result, the Council suggested to the Commission that it should organise a seminar to address the question "What is Respectful Disposal?" and offered the Society's assistance. The Commission did not respond to the Council's suggestion and so the Council decided to devote the central day of the Society's Annual Conference in July 2004 to examining this question and to use the opportunity to publicise the Conference among groups not normally alerted to it. The Retained Organs Commission ceased operations on 31 March 2004. Its functions, much enlarged, will be taken over by a statutory Human Tissue Authority when the Human Tissue Bill, which was introduced into the House of Commons in December 2003, becomes law. The Authority will be required to produce Codes of Practice to regulate various dealings with dead bodies and the Council will be alert to advise the Authority should it feel this to be necessary and appropriate.

The Shipman Inquiry and Review of Coroner Services

The Council's previous Annual Report recorded that the Shipman Inquiry had produced its third report into "Death Certification and the Investigation of Deaths by Coroners" in July 2003 and the Review Group on Coroners Services had published its report in the previous month.

There was some overlap between the recommendations of each - for example, in respect of the future of the forms relating to death certification and cremation and of medical referees. On March 10 2004 the Government responded to the recommendations of both Reports in "Reforming the Coroner and Death Certification Service: A Position Paper". The Paper does not lay out proposals for consultation but sets out a programme for action. Two members of the Council, Dr Leadbeatter and Mr White, have examined all three documents and compared the schemes advocated in each. Their analysis was published in the Summer issue of Pharos. Since the Society has long advocated that no extra investigation or certification should be required when a body is to be cremated rather than buried and since the Society from the beginning has advocated a two (or three) stage process of certification as well as a greater professionalism and expertise on the part of those completing the certificates, the Society obviously welcomes the Government's acceptance of this in principle. However, the Government intends that these and other attendant reforms will be made without costing more overall than the present system. Dame Janet Smith doubted whether this would be possible and so do Dr Leadbeatter and Mr White.

Burial Law and Policy in the 21st Century

In January 2004, The Home Office's Burial and Cemeteries Advisory Group, on which the Society is represented, published its first public consultation document Burial Law and Policy in the 21st Century: the need for a sensitive and sustainable approach. This is part of the Government's response to Andrew Bennett MP's Select Committee on Cemeteries (2000-1). The report's draft recommendations concentrate on four issues: (1) the need for uniform burial legislation, (2) the provision of burial grounds, (3) cemetery regulation, management and standards, and (4) exhumation or disturbance after burial. The fourth section contains recommendations on the sensitive issue of the re-use of old graves. The Society has responded to the report, particularly on those issues affecting cremation and cremation facilities. As the Cremation Society since its origin has promoted cremation as a better alternative to burial, it has not commented on the re-use issue, although it continues to respect bereaved families' freedom of choice.

Reclamation of Implants

For some time the Society has supported the practice of reclaiming prostheses following cremation and their recycling strictly for charitable purposes. It is a practice observed in a number of European countries, notably the Netherlands where the practice as we know it first started.

Cremation organisations in Great Britain representing the interests of cremation authorities and cremation personnel have been seeking individual legal advice prior to instigating pilot schemes. The Federation of British Cremation Authorities representing authorities which are responsible for the establishment and operation of crematoria, has been advised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that:

  1. for ethical reasons human corpses are not considered to be discarded as waste
  2. DEFRA does not endorse the practice of reclaiming metals from crematorium ash, but
  3. would regard metals once recovered from the ash as waste and their disposal thereafter to be subject to waste management legislation.

Implants disposed of in accordance with the Federation's Code of Cremation Practice, i.e. they are removed from the cremated remains and buried within the grounds of the crematorium in accordance with Federation guidance, is regarded as acceptable by DEFRA. However, if the implants are reclaimed and recycled for charitable purposes DEFRA believe that there is a strong argument for treating them as waste and for regulating the process in accordance with waste management legislation.

The Society finds it difficult to follow the logic or understand why the practice adopted by leading cremation movements to be found in the Netherlands and Denmark for example, cannot be adopted in this country. With the harmonisation of environmental legislation, particularly in the area of crematoria, DEFRA appears to be at odds with its European colleagues. Despite DEFRA's comments and reservations the Society believes that the option should be available to cremation authorities provided it is practised with the knowledge and approval of bereaved families and is for charitable purposes only.


Following his retirement after serving 13 years as the International Cremation Federation's Secretary-General, the Society's Secretary continues to serve on its Executive Committee as senior Vice-President. The task of transferring the Federation's secretariat from Brecon House to its new location in The Hague went smoothly.

The Society continues its strong links with the international cremation movement via its membership of the ICF and through its Secretary's role on the Executive Committee which is presently focusing on the introduction of a regional structure for the Federation. The Federation has grown significantly over the years into a truly world-wide organisation and it is felt that the time has now come to introduce regional structures in order that it can best represent the interests of its members world-wide.

European Funeral Standard

The Society represents the cremation interests of the United Kingdom on the UK National Committee of the Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN) which was formed in response to an initiative from the German Institute for Standardisation to prepare a European Funeral Standard which would cover such matters as terminology, criteria, provision of funeral services and possibly qualification requirements for those in the funeral industry. At a meeting held in London on 26th/27th January the Society's Secretary participated in the working sessions of the CEN at which 10 countries were represented. It is expected that a final draft for consultation will be distributed to member countries during the latter part of 2004.

During the meeting in January the Society was also a co-sponsor of the dinner provided for the working group.


The Society submitted a comprehensive response to the Mercury Emissions from Crematoria - Consultation on an assessment by the Environment Agency's Local Authority Unit, issued by DEFRA. The response addressed a number of important points including the following.

  • the political and economic consequences of having to reduce mercury emissions.
  • the unreliable and speculative nature of the assumptions made in the document.
  • the inadequate working out of the funding mechanism for upgrading crematoria.
  • the lack of any examination of how the private sector will obtain the funding necessitated by upgrading.
  • the lack of hard evidence to support conclusions.
  • the need for a proper independent study to be carried out.
  • there are internal contradictions such as the private sector being able to come to the rescue of local authorities. This has not been thought through properly.
  • the effect of the proposal on the availability and access to crematoria.
  • the predominant focus on the public rather than the private sector.
  • the need for equity between burial and cremation as methods of disposal.
  • the failure to hold the dental profession, whose use of dental amalgam is the cause of mercury emissions from crematoria, accountable in any way.

The Society along with representatives of the other two prominent cremation organisations has attended meetings with DEFRA in connection with the proposed new Process Guidance Notes. The anticipated repercussions following the introduction of these continue to be a source of great concern to the cremation movement. Repercussions may include the closure of a significant number of crematoria, detrimental changes in service provided and significant costs for cremation authorities which will inevitably lead to increased cremation fees.

At the present time a number of proposals and options are under discussion and in this connection the Society is liaising, where appropriate, with its colleagues in other cremation organisations.

Memorandum and Articles of Association

After extensive work by the Council, liaising closely with its professional advisers, a new Memorandum and Articles of Association has been drafted. These have been produced to take account of changes in charity law as well as reflecting more accurately the objectives of the Society and the work that it presently undertakes and proposes to carry out in the future.

The new Memorandum and Articles of Association will be submitted to members for approval at an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held in conjunction with the forthcoming Annual General Meeting. The Council will recommend that the resolutions adopting the new Memorandum and Articles of Association be passed.

Joint Life Member Certificates

There is a provision in the accounts for the Society's future liability under founder member certificates and this is reassessed annually. After reviewing the number of claims and amount per claim it has been decided to retain the existing provision.


The updating and transfer of old but necessary data retained in manual format, continues to be carried out by the Society's staff. Further enhancements to the computer system are planned so as to improve efficiency and the already high standard of service presently provided.

Investment Portfolio

The investment objective is to produce the optimum total return from income and capital over the long term.

As part of the Council's responsibilities to ensure prudent financial management of the Society's investments, presentations were invited from three investment managers including the Society's existing fund manager. After careful consideration and on the recommendation of the Society's Investment Sub-Committee in August 2003, it was agreed that Newton Investment Management Limited continue to be retained as the Society's fund managers and that the existing portfolio be transferred to and managed under their Newton Global Growth and Income Fund. At the present time this was considered to be the most suitable fund for the Society to invest in bearing in mind its investment objectives. The action taken will also reduce management costs incurred by the Society.

Brecon House

On account of the complex and onerous nature of a Landlord's duties and responsibilities Messrs Watson Day Chartered Surveyors were appointed property managers in respect of Brecon House in October 2003. Brecon House represents a significant investment for the Society, providing it with long term financial security, and it was therefore considered prudent to appoint professional property managers rather than attempt to undertake this task "in-house".

The Society's Brecon House office continues to provide free of charge 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 continues to provide an efficient, first class service.

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 with the public's interest uppermost.

It will continue to consolidate relationships already established with government departments and organisations such as the Association of Crematorium Medical Referees, Home Office, Office for National Statistics, Department of Trade and Industry, Office of Fair Trading, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Environment Agency, Review of Coroner Services, Burial and Cemeteries Advisory Group, British Standards Institute Committee FSW/1 (European Funeral Standard), and the successor body to 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 representation on the Executive Committee and Sub-Committees of the International Cremation Federation, particularly with regard to the formation of new regional structures.

Trustee Training

Wherever possible and to ensure that Trustees are kept up to date with legislative developments relating to charities, Trustees participate in Trustee briefing sessions provided by its professional advisers.

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 has come to the conclusion that reserves representing the investment in its subsidiary and associated companies should be considered separately. These companies meet the objective of investing in crematoria which encourage the highest operational and ethical standards in cremation practice.

The Council consider the balance of the reserves is sufficient to generate the income required to meet other objectives of the Society and to operate efficiently.

The Council believes that its present reserves are at about the right level to meet its objectives.

Risk Management

The Council regularly reviews the major risks which the Society may be exposed to with regard to its practical operations. At the present time it is in the process of having an independent risk assessment exercise carried out by a professionally qualified body.

With regard to risks relating to the finances of the Society the Council is satisfied that maintaining an unrestricted general reserve at the level stated above will provide sufficient resources for the foreseeable future.

Market Value of Subsidiary's Freehold and Leasehold Land and Buildings

In the opinion of the Directors of the London Cremation Company, the market value of the freehold and leasehold land and buildings of the subsidiary is considerably in excess of the net book value of £3,509,870. In the absence of a professional valuation of all the properties the Society's Council is 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
R.G. Roberts (Honorary Treasurer) (retired 22nd April 2004)
H. Thomas C.B.E.
S.R.G. White
Professor G.F. Woodroffe
Ms. C. Lambert
Dr. S. Leadbeatter
A. D. McCarthy (Appointed 23rd April 2003)
Mrs J Stevenson (Appointed 9th October 2003) (Appointed Treasurer 22nd April 2004)

The Society's Council comprises highly qualified members prominent in their individual fields of expertise. Nevertheless the Council will continue to increase its expertise and widen its influence wherever possible.

On 22nd April Mr Richard G Roberts tendered his resignation as the Society's Treasurer, a position in which he continued to serve since stepping down as Chairman on 21st June 2001. Richard joined the Council on 11th October 1984 and served as Chairman for 14 years from December 1987 to 21st June 2001. During his term of office he guided the Society through a number of significant changes. The Council's expertise was both widened and strengthened through appointments of a number of individuals highly regarded in their respective professional fields. He also saw the Society progress in terms of financial stability, culminating in the purchase of the freehold of the Society's existing office premises.

The President and Members of the Council wish to record their thanks and appreciation of the contribution made by Richard to the Society and cremation movement and wish him and his wife well in his retirement from the Council.

On 9th October 2003 Mrs "Jandy" M Stevenson was appointed to the Council and on 22nd April 2004 was also appointed Treasurer following the vacancy created by the retirement of Mr R G Roberts. Both her election as a Council Member and Treasurer will be proposed at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting.

Mrs Stevenson qualified in 1974 as a Chartered Accountant specialising in taxation. She then joined Thompson McLintock as a senior tax manager, setting up her own accounting firm in Edinburgh in 1982, which she eventually sold in 1989, when she joined the Board of the Dunfermline Building Society as a Non Executive Director. She is presently partner-in-charge of the Edinburgh office of Henderson Loggie, a large independent accountancy practice in Scotland. She has responsibility for owner managed businesses, technology companies and charities.

In 2001, she became a member of the Advisory Board of Common Purpose, an independent educational organisation which aims to improve the way society works, and then, in 2002, became a director of SACRO, a charity specialising in reducing offending and safeguarding communities.

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 £58,000 during the year ended 31st March 2004 (2003:£56,000).

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
  31/3/04 1/4/03 31/3/04 1/4/03
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     100 100
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: 24 August 2004
R.N. Arber, Secretary