Annual Report
Year Ended 31st March 2017

The Cremation Society of Great Britain

Report of the Council



The Society was founded in 1874 by Sir Henry Thompson, Bart.


  1. to promote the practice of cremation for the respectful disposal of the bodies of dead persons;
  2. to advance public education in the practice and ethics of cremation; and
  3. to investigate methods of disposing of the bodies of dead persons which appear to the Society to be superior to cremation and, if the Society thinks fit, to promote such methods and advance public education in their practice and ethics either instead of or in addition to cremation.


  • hosts 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 quarterly magazine Pharos International to inform and educate the public on cremation and related matters.
  • publishes an annual directory of crematoria.
  • encourages 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 sees fit.
  • in respect of any method of disposing of the bodies of dead persons other than cremation which the Society decides to investigate or promote, to act in a like manner as it can act in respect of cremation.

Trustees have had due regard to the Charity Commission’s public benefit guidance when exercising any powers or duties to which the guidance is relevant.


  1. Further develop communication and networking opportunities with Government Departments, Stakeholders and Fraternal Organisations.
  2. Continue to explore additional or alternative methods of disposal.
  3. Invest in international collaboration both to contribute and learn from cremation experience around the world.
  4. Extend communications with crematoria throughout the UK.



The Cremation Society monitors the performance and standards of UK crematoria and contributes to legislation through the participation in both the Burial and Cremation Advisory Group and the National Cremation Working Group.


Cremation and Burial Communication and Education 2017

The CBCE was held at the Stratford Manor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon in July 2017.  Since the inception in 2007 of joint conferences this is the eleventh occasion on which it has been held.  The event was jointly staged by the Cremation Society of Great Britain and the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities.

Attendance was good with 170 participants, 42 exhibition stands and a record presence of 165 for the banquet.

The programme was diverse and of interest to all sections of the death care profession.  Legislative issues included Updated Guidelines for Groundwater Protection in Cemeteries by Simon Holbrook, Manager, Local Authority Unit, Environment Agency; The Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 – Shaping the future of bereavement services in Scotland by Gareth Brown, Deputy Director, Health Protection and Public Health Reform, Scottish Government; Running out of space? The Legal and Practical Aspects of the Re-Use of Burial Sites by Nicholas Evans, LLB (Hons), LLM, Partner and Roll A Parliamentary Agent, Bircham Dyson Bell LLP, Mustafa Latif-Aramesh, LLB (Hons), Solicitor, Bircham Dyson Bell LLP; and Peter Mitchell, FICCM (Dip), Principal, Peter Mitchell Associates; Funeral Arrangements and Feuding Families: Who has the Legal Right to Decide? by Dr Heather Conway, LLB, PhD, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Queens University Belfast and Ministry of Justice Update from Judith Bernstein, Joint Head of Coroners, Burials, Cremation and Inquiries Policy Team, Ministry of Justice.

Social and cultural issues were covered by CWGC – The Centenary. Community Engagement in the UK by Jennie Sweeney, BA (Hons), Head of Community Engagement, Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Sensitive handling of pregnancy loss  by Helene Marshall, BSc, RGN, SCM, Educational Project Manager Midwifery, NHS Education for Scotland; Grief Across Communities by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, FMedSci, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well; Making a positive impact through shared knowledge by Alison Crake, MBA, FCMI, President, National Association of Funeral Directors and Catholics and Cremation 2017 by Monsignor Kevin McGinnell, PhB, STB, PGCE, Joint Liturgical Group (GB).

Practical operational aspects of cremation and burial were also discussed with presentations on Investing in your future by James Penney, MSc, Chairman, Darwin Alternative Investment Management Limited; Learning from the past: your energy future by Darren Lawlor, Senior Account Manager, Northern Gas & Power Ltd and Systemic Radiation Treatment and Cremation by Paul Hinton, MSc, CSci, CPhys, Consultant Clinical Scientist, British Nuclear Medicine Society/Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

The Presidents’ Panel chaired by Harvey Thomas CBE, included Presidents from the British Institute of Embalmers, British Institute of Funeral Directors (Vice President), Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (Deputy President) and National Association of Funeral Directors.

With the help of both sponsors and an increased number of exhibitors the event continues to be financially viable for the Society. 


In pursuit of its aim of "advancing the public education in the practice and ethics of cremation" the Council offers bursaries for attendance at CBCE events.  The bursaries cover the attendance fee and accommodation plus a year’s complimentary subscription to Pharos International.  Applications are invited from anyone who has not worked in the cremation industry within the previous 12 months.  This year two bursaries were awarded to Michael Jacobs, an undergraduate from Trinity College, Oxford, and Emily Dunn, a PhD candidate from the University of Durham’s Department of Theology and Religion. Bursary students report to the Council on their experience at CBCE.


Professor Hilary Grainger:-

‘Crematoria Landscapes: A New Landscape for Mourning’ - Writtle College

Crematoria to Die For’’ - The Victorian Society, Isle of Man

Crematoria to Die For.  A New Landscape for Mourning’’ - Solihull History of Art Society

Crematoria to Die For. A New Landscape for Mourning’ Twentieth Century Gardens of Rest and Remembrance - Cheshire Gardens Trust

The Victorian & Edwardian Expression of Cremation:  Anfield Crematorium, Liverpool in Context’ - The Victorian Society - Liverpool Group

Green is the New Black’: Sustainability in Contemporary UK Crematoria Design.’ - Nordic Geographers Conference, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden


The Society contributed financially [£1,000] towards the conference 'Death in Scotland, 1855-1955: beliefs, attitudes and practices'. A selection of papers has been published - Susan Buckham, Peter C. Jupp and Julie Rugg (editors), Death in Modern Scotland, 1855-1955: beliefs, attitudes and practices (Oxford and Bern: Peter Lang), 2016.

The Society made a contribution of £4,000 towards the printing of a book entitled Cremation in Modern Scotland: history, architecture and law co-authored by Douglas Davies, Gordon Raeburn and Council Members Revd. Dr. P Jupp, Mr S R G White and Professor H Grainger (Edinburgh: Birlinn) 2017.


The Society’s Archives are stored at the University of Durham’s Palace Green Library (Special Collections Section) and this year have been increased with the addition of many back issues of various trade journals.  Danielle McAloon, Durham University, has been appointed the ‘Cremation Society Collection Project Archivist’.

The archives can be accessed at

Society Representation to External Groups

Council for British Funeral Services (CBFS)

The CBFS offers the opportunity for representatives of death and bereavement organisations to meet twice yearly, by the kind invitation of the British Institute of Embalmers at Knowle.

The meeting discusses contemporary Funeral issues. Representatives report on their organisations' activities over the last six months. Mrs Miriam Deacon and the Revd. Dr Peter Jupp represent the Society.

The Revd Dr Peter C. Jupp represents the Society on the Churches Funeral Group. This ecumenical group, chaired by the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, has met twice this year. The agenda items have included: the Burial and Cremation Bill Scotland, the Code of Practice on Infant Cremations, the Communities Department survey on the multi-religious facilities at crematoria, the Death Cafe movement, DSS Funeral Payments, direct cremations and Parochial Fees.

Churches’ Funerals Group

The Revd. Peter Jupp represents the Society on the CFG which has met three times this year. The Right Reverend James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, has resigned as Chair owing to his increasing responsibilities for prison issues in the House of Lords. The Revd Sally Thomas has been appointed as Acting Chair. Sue Moore represents the CFG on the Ministry of Justice's Burial and Cremation Advisory Group (BCAG).

The Group sent formal responses to the 'Review of Crematoria Provision and Facilities' (Department of Communities and Local Government) and to the Work Programme of the Law Reform Committee.

Issues discussed this year have included: the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016; Social Fund funeral payments; delays to funerals caused by post-mortems and the standard of funeral ministry. CFG members attended the Church of England's 'Taking Funerals Seriously 2' seminar, and the 2017 National Funeral Exhibition in June.

Burial and Cremation Advisory Group (BCAG) (Ministry of Justice)

Mrs Miriam Deacon represents the Society on BCAG which is chaired by the Ministry of Justice.

Over thirty organizations with responsibility for death and bereavement issues meet twice a year. Agenda items relevant to the cremation interest included: infant cremation, funeral poverty, electronic transmission of coroner’s forms, new cremation regulations and forms, consultation on crematorium facilities (Department of Communities and Local Government) and death certification reforms (Department of Health).

National Cremation Working Group (Ministry of Justice)

The Society is represented on this group by the Secretary Mrs Miriam Deacon. On 7th July 2016 the government published its response to the consultation on infant cremations, which sought views on proposals for a number of changes to the Cremation (England and Wales) Regulations 2008, and for improving other aspects of cremation practice.

The group advise on technical matters related to proposed reforms, such as the detail of new regulations and forms, codes of practice and training for cremation authority staff, information for bereaved parents, and whether there should be an inspector of crematoria.

Crematoria Abatement of Mercury Emissions Organisation (CAMEO)

In his capacity as a Director, the Society’s Chairman Mr H Thomas CBE represents the Society on the Board of CAMEO Ltd. He, together with his fellow Board Members, Mr R Powell (Chairman) and Mr B Day, both from the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, continued to work closely together to carry through the successful Burden-Sharing Scheme for Mercury Emission Reduction. CAMEO has now reduced mercury emissions by more than 50% and this figure will continue to increase in 2017/2018.

The Dying Matters Coalition

The Society joined the Coalition in 2015.  The 2017 Launch Event held on 23rd January at the Radisson Blu Bloomsbury was attended by the Chairman, Secretary, Revd. Dr. Peter Jupp and Mr Colin Rickman.

Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities - Technical Committee

The Society is represented by the Secretary on this committee.

Winston’s Wish

The Secretary on behalf of the Society attended a reception at the House of Lords on 15th June hosted by Winston’s Wish a children’s Bereavement Charity.

Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management

The ICCM’s 2016 Learning Convention and Exhibition took place at the Oxford Belfry from 31st October to 2nd November and was attended by Mr Harvey Thomas, Mrs Miriam Deacon and Mr Colin Rickman.

Westerleigh Group

Invitations were received from Westerleigh to the official dedication services on 18th May for their new crematorium at Gedling, and 26th May for West Lancashire crematorium. Both the Chairman and Secretary represented the Society.

Fraternal Organisations

The Chairman Mr Harvey Thomas and the Secretary Mrs Miriam Deacon represented the Society at the annual meetings of the following Fraternal Organisations:

National Association of Memorial Masons
Co-operative Funeral Service Manager’s Association
National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
National Association of Funeral Directors

International Cremation Federation General Council Meeting/Cremation Association of North America Convention 2017

The Secretary Mrs Miriam Deacon presented the United Kingdom country report at the CANA Convention held in New York from 16th to 18th August. The 6th session of the CANA programme was allocated to the ICF for an ‘International Cremation Federation Panel’ during which she participated as a panel member responding to questions from delegates.

The Secretary also attended the ICF’s General Council Meeting which took place during the Convention.


Pharos International

Pharos International is the only subscription publication in Great Britain dedicated to cremation. Its new format has been widely welcomed and it also offers an excellent outlet for advertising. With 600 copies printed per quarter it is one of the leading cremation publications worldwide with copies presently circulating in over 40 countries.

Directory of Crematoria

The Society’s annual Directory of Crematoria holds detailed information about crematoria in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. It is the definitive publication of its kind with 320 copies printed annually.

“Questions People Ask About Cremation”

This leaflet is available in hard copy and on the Society’s website.

Directory of Pet Crematoria

First published in 1995 the Pet Directory was updated for the 5th time in August 2016. It contains a listing of pet crematoria in the United Kingdom and Channel Islands with addresses, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address and website, opening hours, facilities available and type of animal catered for.


The Society’s new website was launched in May 2017 and can be accessed at It provides free access to material on all aspects, particularly legislative developments, of cremation in the United Kingdom. It is regularly visited by the public, academics and those involved in the death care professions. The website is also regularly used as a reference source in connection with statutory crematorium planning matters.

The previous website originally released in 1999 is accessible via the Public Archive Section of the UK Web Archiving Consortium at


Brecon House

The second floor was let to new tenants in December 2016 and all WCs were refurbished during April/May 2017. The property provides a significant income for the Society with all floors now occupied.

Messrs Watson Day, Chartered surveyors, act as the Society’s property managers advising the Society, as landlord, on all aspects of its responsibilities, particularly with regard to health and safety issues. Necessary and appropriate risk assessments continue to be carried out regularly and their recommendations implemented.

Subsidiary Company

The charity has one subsidiary company: The London Cremation Company plc, a company registered in England, which owns and operates crematoria at Golders Green and St. Marylebone in London, Woking St. John’s in Surrey, Banbury in North Oxfordshire and the Garden of England (Sittingbourne) and Thames View (Gravesend) both situated in Kent.


The Society is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. It is governed by its Memorandum and Articles of Association dated 26th July 1922 as amended on 14th October 2004 and 17th June 2008. The Council is elected by members of the Society. It currently has eight members and met five times this year. The day to day operations of the charity are managed by Miriam Deacon (Secretary) and her staff (Sue Jackson, Julie Forrest, Pauline Silk and Fay Leahy) to all of whom the Council offers warm thanks for their enthusiastic work and commitment.


Mrs Miriam Deacon as the Secretary of the Cremation Society of Great Britain has day to day operational responsibility for the Society. Miriam represents the Society on a number of other organisations in the sector and in its relations with government bodies and projects.

She is also Editor of Pharos International magazine with Julie Forrest as the Sub-Editor.

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 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. We are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Society and for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities. We are required to issue consolidated accounts of the Society and its subsidiary.

Trustee Training

To ensure that the Council is fulfilling its statutory duties and responsibilities, the Secretary and Council Members have the opportunity to attend appropriate trustee training courses whenever possible and are regularly updated on regulation and statutory changes.


The Society will continue to extend and consolidate its 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 on cremation matters and will investigate when appropriate other methods of disposal. It will at all times, including through its interests in cremation companies, promote the practice of cremation to the highest standard with the public’s interest uppermost.

We have now established a number of relationships with government departments and organisations including the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, British Standards Institute, Burial and Cremation Advisory Group, CAMEO, Council of British Funeral Services, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Environment Agency, the Human Tissue Authority, International Cremation Federation, Ministry of Justice, Office of Fair Trading, Office for National Statistics, Public Health Directorate of the Scottish Government and the Review of Coroner Services. We shall continue to contribute to any Inquiries or Reviews relevant to the cremation profession.

The Society will also continue to press government departments to give more priority to the clarification and development of cremation guidelines and to give full consideration to additional methods of disposal, as an adjunct to cremation, together with appropriate criteria and regulations to qualify them to be practised in the UK.


The Group results for the year are shown in the consolidated summary income and expenditure account and the consolidated statement of financial activities. The net gain of the Group for the year was £775,526 as compared to a re-stated gain of £300,093 for the previous year.


The Society’s investment portfolio is now managed by Sarasin & Partners who were selected by the Council to take this on in February 2016. It was previously managed by PSigma. A formal review presentation is made to the Council at least once during the year by the Investment Fund Manager.

The London Cremation Company plc

During the year under review the Company’s profit before taxation amounted to £1,118,173. In the previous year the profit before taxation amounted to £850,392 (restated). The Company carried out 6,916 cremations during the year, an increase of 365 on the previous year.

Consolidation of Accounts

As reported in the past the Council considers the preparation of consolidated accounts confusing to members and gives a misleading impression of the Society's financial activities. Compliance with consolidation requirements incurs the Society in additional costs. Until the Society is given dispensation from these requirements the Council's views remain the same.


The Council has reviewed the reserves of the Society.  It has decided that the ‘Restricted Fund’ for the Property is no longer required. In future any exceptional expenditure on Brecon House will come out of ‘Unrestricted general funds’.


The Council regularly reviews the major risks which the Society may be exposed to with regard to its practical operations. During the period under review the Council commenced a comprehensive risk assessment exercise identifying the likelihood of any occurrence, the severity of its impact and any mitigating factors that should be taken into account. This exercise is being implemented on an on-going basis and is reviewed regularly in order to maintain an up to date Risk Register. The Society maintains Directors and Officers Liability Insurance cover for all of its Council Members and Secretary.


In the opinion of the Directors of The London Cremation Company plc, the market value of the freehold and leasehold land and buildings of the subsidiary is considerably in excess of the net book value of £9,914,337. In the absence of a professional valuation of all the properties the Society’s Council is unable to quantify that excess.


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

H. Thomas C.B.E
Dr. I. R. Dungavell
Professor H.J. Grainger
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp
Mr. C.F. Rickman
Mr. M. Stronach
Mr. S.R.G. White
Professor G.F. Woodroffe

Honorary Vice Presidents

The Council are delighted that Professor Douglas Davies was appointed as Honorary Vice-President in November 2016. He holds a PhD (Nottingham University), Master of Letters and Doctor of Letters (Oxford University), Honorary Doctor of Theology (University of Uppsala, Sweden), Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, Fellow of the UK Academy of Society Sciences, and most recently a Fellow of the British Academy.  Douglas is a Professor in the Study of Religion and Durham University’s Department of Theology and Religion and also a Director of The Centre for Death and Life Studies.  He is well known nationally and internationally for his work on death, funeral rites, Mormonism, religion and the relationship between anthropology and theology.

The Council are sad to report the death of two of their Honorary Vice Presidents:

The Rt. Revd. Dr Geoffrey Rowell - deceased 11 June 2017
His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor - deceased 1 September 2017

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 £51,000 during the year ended 31st March 2017 (2016: £61,000).

H. Thomas C.B.E
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp

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

                                   Ordinary Shares  Preference Shares
                                   31/3/17  1/4/16   31/3/17   1/4/16
H. Thomas C.B.E.                     1,182   1,182     1,484    1,404
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp                   -       -          421      421
Non-Beneficial Trustee Interests:
H. Thomas C.B.E.                   220,000 220,000


So far as the Council is aware, there is no relevant audit information of which the group’s auditors are unaware. Additionally, the Council has taken all the necessary steps that Council Members ought to have taken as Directors in order to make themselves aware of all relevant audit information and to establish that the group’s auditors are aware of that information.


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


Harvey Thomas CBE

Date: 3 October 2017