Jo to promote professionalism and community as new SAIF president

08/04/2022   //   No Comments

SAIF, which has the largest number of independent funeral director members of any UK funeral trade association, has elected a new president to serve for the next 12 months.

Jo Parker, managing director of Abbey Funeral Services in Tonbridge, Kent, took up the reins at the Society’s recent AGM in Edinburgh, when she succeeded Mark Porteous.

Jo Parker, SAIF President 2022/23

During her presidency Jo will focus on two key themes – SAIF’s professional support for its members and community, as she promotes and celebrates independent funeral directors’ high standards.

Jo will also be raising funds for Papyrus Prevention of Young Suicide, which aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking the stigma around suicide and helping communities to recognise and prevent suicide.  

Of her election as SAIF President 2022/23, Jo said: “It’s an honour to serve and represent independent, family-run funeral businesses across the UK. As a profession, we are in a sustained period of change and challenge, as we face greater regulation and new market entrants focussed on price and volume. 

“My job on behalf of small firms will be to ensure the public doesn’t forget the quality and care that SAIF members offer to bereaved families. Additionally, I want to help highlight the work SAIF members do in their communities. Many businesses will be supporting local charities and hosting bereavement groups, making a huge positive impact in their neighbourhoods. 

“Over the coming 12 months I will be meeting members in person and digitally at SAIF meetings and I look forward to exchanging ideas and best practice.”

Terry Tennens, Chief Executive of SAIF, said: “Jo has been a very active member of the SAIF Executive Committee since 2013 and I know she is going to be an amazing president. Her commitment to independent funeral directors is second to none and she played a pivotal role in supporting businesses in her home county of Kent during the height of the pandemic. 

“I’m excited about working with Jo as we promote the good work of independent funeral directors through self-regulation and initiatives such as the Diamond Partnership with Westerleigh Group and Distinct Cremations. There may be challenges but I believe we are now in a period of opportunity, as the public realises the importance of standards and service when it comes to caring for lost loved ones.

“I would also, on behalf of all SAIF members, like to thank Past President Mark Porteous, who served with dedication and passion for two years, helping to steer the Society through the most difficult periods of the pandemic and Competition and Markets Authority regulation.”

Jo is no stranger to the SAIF Presidency, as her mother Chris and father Jim held the position in 2006 and 2011 respectively. Abbey Funeral Services has become renowned for its work to raise awareness of dementia in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and has established its own bereavement charity, Friends Together Bereavement Support. Jo’s chosen Presidential Charity, Papyrus Prevention of Young Suicide, can be supported here

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