Thursday, 21 September 2017

Early diagnosis means people can live well for longer ...



Dementia Action Alliance – National Group

Dementia Action Alliance brings together leading organisations across England committed to transforming health and social care outcomes for people affected by dementia.

Dementia Action Alliance membership and what it means to Paul Shoobridge of Shoobridge Funeral Services and Exmouth & District Funeral Services.

Why get involved?

On a personal level, my grandmother suffered from dementia for more than 10 years. Socially, and in my work as a funeral director, I am constantly subjected to and involved with families in similar situations and as such, have first-hand experience of clients and their families coping with dementia. Many of the nursing and residential care homes I visit deal with the ever-increasing numbers of people who are living longer with numerous forms of ‘age-related’ diseases. All these factors not only affected me but prompted me to enrol myself, and our ‘team’ at work, on a ‘Dementia Friends’ awareness session run by Hospiscare, Exeter, soon after our Exmouth & District Funeral Services premises opened in March 2017.

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will soar to 2 million by 2051.
(Source: Alzheimer Society – Facts for the media)

Alzheimer’s Society hits staggering two million Dementia Friends milestone

One in every 30 people in England, Northern Ireland and Wales now involved in the biggest ever social action movement to change perceptions of dementia
(Source: www.dementiafriends.org)

The number of dementia cases being recorded across the world is increasing. The developing knowledge and research of the diseases and the growing public awareness surrounding dementia in general has, and is, attracting more awareness and attention. “More and more families are currently affected and with dementia-related occurrences recorded at earlier ages than previously seen, I feel that anything I/we can do to promote the eradication of this terrible disease, can only be helpful.”
In order to gain more understanding and be an effective tool for and with our clients in their bereavement and grief processes, I believe that all the staff at Shoobridge Funeral Services and Exmouth & District Funeral Services, should adopt a responsible attitude through education and a willingness-to-learn-more approach.

Though personally affected previously, after the ‘Dementia Friends’ awareness meeting in conjunction with Hospiscare, Exeter, Carolyn, Matthew and myself were motivated and committed to making a difference within our business. Carolyn contacted Gina Awad from the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance and with Gina’s help, encouragement and enthusiasm inspired us all to formulate an ‘action plan’ for our business.

The pledges we have made as members of the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance, Honiton Dementia Action Alliance, and the East Devon Coastal Towns Dementia Action Alliance are not only ongoing but also a very effective, work-in-progress. The group is always evolving, sharing ideas, experiences and ‘best practice’ amongst all members to constantly improve the ‘model.’ Not only will this make ‘best practices’ – better but awareness, compassion and understanding far greater; these evolving practices represent the very core of the Alliance’s cause.

To Date, there are 6207 Dementia Action Alliance members with 336 local alliance groups.

Members include leading charities, hospitals, social care providers, government bodies, pharmaceutical companies, royal colleges and well-being organisations.

We at Shoobridge Funeral Services, are now looking at other ways we can support the Alliance. Carolyn Woolcock, our Funeral Administrator, has already agreed to take part in the Muddeford’s Cheese Run event on 8th October 2017 and has also offered to help with another fundraiser in 2018.
Please follow the link below for more information on this event.



Exeter Dementia Action Alliance:



Shoobridge Funeral Services – Action Plan:





Tuesday, 18 July 2017


What’s in a name?

In the past, funeral businesses were family-owned operations that would serve whole communities and in some small towns, this set-up still exists. However, larger chains have been gradually buying-out family businesses often, when senior members of the family retire.

These large funeral chains tend to keep in place, the name of the family that originally ran the funeral home.
Every branch of ‘Dignity’, a British funeral corporation, is run under a family name and 30% of Co-operative funeral homes – notably the largest funeral corporation in the UK, trade under a family’s name.

When these businesses buy ‘independent’ funeral homes, they purchase the use of the family name and consequently, their reputation and ‘good will’.
‘Many customers visit funeral homes with family names in the belief they are supporting a local, independent, business or because they would rather place their trust in a family-owned organisation rather than a large conglomerate’ – reports the The Guardian newspaper.

A recent article in The Guardian touched upon the subject of larger companies masquerading as ‘independent funeral directors’ within local communities. The Guardian also wrote about the large companies that buy-out the independent funeral homes but continue to operate under their name; the local community is usually, totally unaware of these facts and thinking they are still independently owned, use their services in the belief that they are supporting, local businesses.

Is it fair then, that a large company can purchase a local independent company and with that purchase, receive all the hard work and reputation built by the original predecessor?

True, independent, family funeral directors.

Fact: in the past five years, Exeter has seen a rise in funeral director services within the city and surrounding areas.
Focusing on independent family funeral directors, M. Sillifant & Son were established in 1906. Following on from Bernard Sillifant, Martin and Marc, the 3rd and 4th generations of the family, continue to serve their local community.

Although no longer owned by its original family, Le Roy Funeral Service was established in 1950 by Mr Stanley Le Roy Priaulx. Martin Wreford was appointed manager in 1968 and subsequently purchased the business in 1974 and located to their current premises in Alphington, Exeter in 1986 before expanding to Crediton in 2000 and occupying a third premises operating from Topsham Road in 2013.

In October 2011, the independent family business of Shoobridge Funeral Services, who are and have been based, primarily in Honition, East Devon since 1993 and more recently, added Exmouth & District Funeral Services, Exeter Road, Exmouth – expanded into Exeter’s Pinhoe and Whipton area at Pinhoe Road, (Polsloe Bridge), Exeter, bringing in excess of 60 years’ combined expertise and experience blended with the highest qualifications and training available within the funeral profession.


With the number of funeral premises doubling within such a short space of time, three more were still yet to open.

Shortly after the arrival of Shoobridge Funeral Services in Exeter, Tiverton based independent family funeral directors established in 1933, Walter H. Squries & Son also arrived on Pinhoe Road, Exeter and in 2016 they also opened another premises n Exwick, Exeter.

ISCA funeral services opened their first premises in Exeter on Oakhampton Street before recently relocating to Fore Street.

In 2015, the total number of funeral directors operating in Exeter rose to nine and the total number of funeral homes, to eleven. Then, the Plymouth based Walter C. Parson Group, opened the tenth funeral home premises on Topsham Road.
Walter C. Parsons was established in 1842 and has more than doubled in size from four offices to ten, in Plymouth, Plympton, Crownhill, Ivybridge and Exeter with ‘outposts’ now in Tavistock, Torpoint (Pidgen & Son), Saltash (Pengelly Funeral Services), Newton Abbot, and Torquay, (Hugh, Mills & Gaye)



Non-independent family funeral directors.

Established in 1860 and formerly known as W. Mitchell & Son, the company was purchased by ‘Dignity’ (UK funeral corporation), who still claim that, “They are proud to have served many generations of the same families for more than 150 years!”, which ‘comes across’ as somewhat, misleading as ‘Dignity’ itself was created in 1994 through the merger of the Plantsbrook Group and the Great Southern Group, both of which companies had been acquired by Service Corporation International Inc. (an American company and factually, the largest funeral company in the world), earlier that year. At present, Dignity (UK) own over 500 branches across the UK and conduct over 7,5000 funerals a year.
Regarding the funeral profession, the most recent ‘take-over’ in Exeter concerned Exeter and District Funeral Services located on Topsham Road, Exeter. Its original founder, David Albury, had many years of dedicated service and experience in the profession and as such, has ‘looked after’ many families throughout Devon. The funeral director company was purchased/acquired by: Funeral Partners, Funeral Partners Limited who were founded in 2007 by Phillip Greenfield who himself was formerly, a founding shareholder in the Fairways Partnership some years earlier. Funeral Partners now hold in their hands the ‘glory’ and reputation that was built up by its predecessor David and can easily be mistaken for an original local, independent funeral director.
The Co-operative Group (CWS Ltd.), also have facilities based in Exeter in the St. Thomas area. With over 675 branches across the UK, ‘Co-operative Funeral Care’ conduct around 90,000 funerals a year nationally making them the largest funeral company in the UK.






Why choose an independent?

By choosing to use the services of an independent funeral director, you are enlisting the help of a trusted professional.
Many independent undertakers firms are extremely well known and have been run by families who have served their communities for generations and as such, they are not distracted or bound by corporate rules ‘handed down’ from head office and shareholders but can be flexible and responsive to individual needs providing a highly personal and compassionate service.

“When you require the services of a funeral director, you should turn to the people who know your needs best – independent funeral directors.”



Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas Greetings from Shoobridge Funeral Services - 2016

Christmas Greetings from Shoobridge Funeral Services - 2016



It is truly hard to send 'best wishes' to our clients, past and present at any time but it is particularly difficult at Christmas.



Christmas, as we know celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Amongst Christians, the importance of this event is both without question and also, a matter of debate.

To qualify this statement involves the inclusion of Easter and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Which of the two events is the most important IS the debate and an instance I experienced comes to mind.

Offering a 24-hour service restricts Bank Holiday planning for many vital services, none more than those we offer. As such, I was called to a family some years ago to deal with the passing of a male, over the Easter period.


With true feeling, I was empathetic to the family who surprised me with ‘Alleluias’ and praise and I was cordially invited to join them in prayers of thanksgiving. Somewhat puzzled and taken aback, I discovered the family to be practising Christians who were joyous that, though sad the passing of their relative, they were happy to celebrate the passage to Heaven at this poignant time! ‘To be with Jesus, the Lord, when He was taking away the sins of the world’ were words I recall only too well and I learned some valuable lessons from the experience, which I am naturally influenced by, to this day.



Commercially, irrespective of any and all religions, ‘we’ all know that Christmas is a time for family sharing, goodwill, seasonal cheer and generally warm feeling towards our fellow human beings. If we have grievances, we overlook them or put them aside. If we have stress, we postpone its effects until after Christmas.

There is no one I can think of that is unaffected by this event.



I have considered often in my years of being a funeral director, the ‘advantages’ or ‘disadvantages’ of people suffering loss. Whether it is harder for the survivors, those left behind, to deal with and cope without the person who was loved. I’d like to say, “Or the one who passed away?” but I have no knowledge regarding the answer to that question.

Does having a family help? Would ‘I’ rather spare them the pain of my loss?

Of course, there can be no definite answer - it is personal and individual. What I do know is this; to experience the pain of loss means there must have been a degree of love – another unquantifiable factor but a very important and fundamental emotion.



As a parallel, I have also considered the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of having children, having a family? I have pondered the question of loneliness and sometimes, finality when a partner dies. I have coupled all these thoughts together often but especially around Christmas and again, have never found a satisfactory conclusion as everybody is so different.



With these puzzles in mind, I return to my purpose: how to send good wishes to the friends we have made throughout the year and in the past as a result of the loss they have suffered or experienced?



I would like to think that we have given everyone, more than they needed; that we helped them take one step forward at a time. At the every least, that we met, if not exceeded their expectations whether they could identify them or not.

That they would look back at some stage and feel that my family and I, gave them a purpose or eased them gently into or through their bereavement process.



One could be cynical and discuss payments for our services and I would totally agree – to an extent but that would not convey our purpose. Not only do we, as a family feel this purpose from our inner core but we are committed to our customers, to help at such a strange and difficult time of ‘their’ lives. If we could perform this service freely, without financial mention, it would remain our chosen goal. That practically, we have to pay to be in business is the way of this world. In order for us to provide the commitment we do, unfortunately, requires that we too are in business and require payment.



And so it remains, for me, on behalf of myself, Penny, Paul and the staff who serve us and therefore ‘you,’ so well over the years to thank you for choosing us, coming into and being a part of our lives and beginning lasting friendships.



Strangely, as I wrote this, I also wrote some ‘greetings’ that at first were difficult. I soon found numerous ways to express our ‘thanks’ and send our ‘best wishes’ because you have affected us resultantly in such a nice way but, I have settled on one to convey that which is in our hearts. I hope this says as much as we feel and that it is received with the sincerity that we feel at this time.



Because the goodwill of those we serve forms the foundation of the trust you placed in us, we remember you at this difficult time and offer our personal "thank you" as we wish you hope for the future. May we assure you that you are truly remembered by us, often but none moreso than at this special time.



Terry, Penny & Paul Shoobridge and our wonderful team – ‘the staff.’