John Byrne, J T Byrne Funeral Directors

John Byrne

As a company director, I’ve worked in our family business for 20 years. J T Byrne Funeral Directors was established in 1989 by my parents, and I joined them in 1999. Following the death of my father in 2016 I took ownership of the company, something which I am incredibly proud of. We are based on the Fylde Coast in Lancashire and currently operate three funeral homes.

We pride ourselves on providing a high level of service at a reasonable cost and believe that being part of SAIF and Golden Charter is the best way to protect our future. The client family is at the very centre of everything that we do, both at-need and pre-need through funeral planning.

Our company has offered Golden Charter pre-paid funeral plans enthusiastically since being established, a fact reflected by numerous nominations for Funeral Planner of the Year. We do this as we recognise the importance of funeral planning to our business and to the future financial security of the wider independent sector.

My first steps with SAIFCharter were joining the Policing & Compliance (now Monitoring & Compliance) working group five years ago, and I became chair of this working group three years ago. I also sit on the Product & Innovation working group. Both of these working groups help to support the membership and advise Golden Charter regarding funeral planning for the future. As well as the working groups, I also hold a seat on the SAIFCharter Executive and act as the Secretary of SAIFCharter, both positions I hold in high esteem and feel it to be a privilege to be a voice for the independent funeral director.

The funeral profession has ahead of it a multitude of challenges and changes, and my intention is to be part of the change and meet those challenges head on whilst always speaking on behalf of the independent funeral director membership and helping the profession to secure our future as Independents.

I will be seeking to ensure that all conclusions reached nationally serve the best interests of the wide variety of firms which make up this successful association. Feel free to contact me directly and I would be happy to discuss any SAIFCharter matter.

James Morris, William Purves Funeral Directors

I joined William Purves Funeral Directors in 1992 as a Trainee Funeral Director and have worked for them for the last 27 years. Working in this large independent company, based in Edinburgh but with branches across Scotland and the North East of England, has given me a breadth of experience and understanding of funeral practices and the issues surrounding pre-need and at-need provision and running businesses of various scales on both sides of the border.

Having been promoted to Managing Director of the company in 2014, I am involved in all aspects of the business whilst still actively involved in funerals as required. In addition I have been responsible for the pre-need side of the business for over 10 years.  However recent restructuring within the business would allow me more flexibility to commit time and energy to this potential new role.

As a member of the SAIFCharter Shareholder Engagement, Product Development & Innovation Working Group and sitting on the Scottish SAIF Executive has given me a great insight into the workings of Golden Charter and also meant involvement through various committees and the Parliamentary Cross Party Group for Funerals and Bereavement, in the rapidly changing and challenging legislative environment in Scotland with the introduction of an Inspector of Funeral Directors and preparations for Government regulation and potential licencing. I have also been actively involved in discussions with and submissions to the CMA and monitoring the changing landscape surrounding pre-payment plans as the FCA look to take oversight.

Being involved daily in a hands-on role in the funeral sector, and the experience of running an independent funeral director with both a large city centre presence and small village and rural branches in England and Scotland, gives me a breadth of knowledge and understanding that I believe could positively benefit the SAIFCharter Executive.  I would commit to representing the needs and challenges of all SAIFCharter shareholders and am particularly passionate in safeguarding the ability of independent funeral directors in retaining their independence and flexibility.