Today, 11 September 2015, Alan Slater MBE retires as Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Funeral Directors having served the profession for more than sixteen years.
Alan has built successful cross party political groups, secured alliances with like-minded organisations and even reached out, on many occasions, to rival representational bodies in the sector to join forces in the interests of the profession – demonstrating an inclusiveness and commitment to the funeral profession over and above simply meeting the requirements of his own role. He is respected across the profession for his significant achievements in developing the profile, reputation and effectiveness of the NAFD as well as for his tireless campaigning efforts on behalf of bereaved families.
Today, under Alan’s leadership, the NAFD represents 80% of UK funeral firms and has a crucial role in setting and maintaining high standards, providing education for professional development, providing the right level of advice and guidance to members and both promoting and defending members and the profession when required. Here are some of the more notable achievements that have occurred within the Association during the last sixteen years:-
- During Alan’s tenure membership has grown and the NAFD now represents almost 4,000 funeral homes. The Association has gone from representing just 35% of the funeral profession to an organisation whose members conduct some 85% of funerals in the UK each year.
- The establishment of the National Funeral Exhibition and what has become one of the top three funeral exhibitions in the world.
- The establishment of the Funeral Arbitration Scheme as the recognised client redress scheme for the profession.
- The Association’s profile is higher than it has ever been, having invested in support to develop a strong media and public profile, regularly achieving coverage in all major national newspapers and on national television and radio.
- Always keen to demonstrate leadership and innovation for the profession, under Alan’s direction the NAFD also led the profession in the development of social media channels and now has widely followed Twitter and Facebook feeds which are used to further the Association’s engagement campaigns with the profession and with bereaved families.
- The Association is viewed as a must-consult organisation by all four UK Governments and Assemblies through regular meetings with Ministers and the establishment of four cross party funeral and bereavement Parliamentary groups.
- Under Alan’s leadership professional development within the sector has been transformed through the establishment of two respected Diplomas (the Diploma in Funeral Directing and the Diploma in Funeral Arranging & Administration), backed by Birmingham City University, as well as an online introductory course for the profession and support for a Degree Course at the University of Bath.
- The NAFD offers a market-leading benefits package to members, which makes a tangible difference to the costs and ease of running their businesses.Most of these benefits have been personally negotiated by Alan – some as recently as his last few weeks in office.
Alan’s tenure at the helm of the NAFD has not gone unrecognised. In 2006 Alan was given the Trade Association Forum Leadership Award and, in July this year, he was also honoured with the Trade Association Forum Outstanding Contribution Award in recognition of his achievements over the last sixteen years.
Linda Cavener, General Manager of the Trade Association Forum, described why he was chosen for the award: “Alan took on what was, at the time, considered to be an old-fashioned and staid organisation with the challenge of a declining membership. He re-energised the National Association of Funeral Directors so that it is now considered by many to be the ‘must consult’ organisation for the sector. He achieved this by building successful cross-party groups, securing alliances with like-minded organisations and reaching out to others in the industry to join forces in the best interests of the sector. Alan has demonstrated an inclusive attitude and real commitment to the profession and his contribution is, by any stretch of the imagination, outstanding.”
The recognition doesn’t stop there. Such has been Alan’s contribution to the work of not only the NAFD but the whole funeral sector since 1999 that, in 2012, his efforts were recognised at the highest possible level when Her Majesty the Queen awarded him an MBE in her birthday honours list in recognition of his contribution to the funeral profession.
Everyone at the NAFD – members, colleagues, staff, suppliers and stakeholders – would like to wish Alan a very happy and fulfilling retirement and thank him for all he has done for the Association and the funeral profession.