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Westerleigh Group reinforces its commitment to a sustainable future with awards sponsorship

Westerleigh Group reinforces its commitment to a sustainable future with awards sponsorship

by Wickmedia Office

Westerleigh Group reinforces its commitment to a sustainable future with awards sponsorship

Westerleigh Group has reinforced its commitment to a sustainable future by becoming the headline sponsor for the Good Funeral Awards which take place in September.

Westerleigh Group is the UK’s largest independent owner and operator of crematoria and cemeteries, with 37 sites in England, Scotland and Wales, all set within beautifully-landscaped gardens of remembrance which provide pleasant, peaceful places for people to visit and reflect.

The group’s Sirhowy Valley Crematorium, which opened early in 2021, was the first crematorium in the country to complete the new environmental compliance section of the FBCA (Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities) inspection.

Last Autumn, the group as a whole became the first crematorium authority in the UK to officially adopt the new Environmental Policy Statement introduced by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities.

This year, Westerleigh Group has opened two brand new crematoria – Waseley Hills Crematorium in the Midlands and New Forest Crematorium in Hampshire – both of which are among the most environmentally-friendly facilities of their kind in the country, featuring the very latest filtration and abatement technologies to minimise the impact on the environment including NOx abatement (only fitted to a small number of crematoria in the UK).  Other  environmental features include enhanced thermal insulation of the buildings, low energy lighting and zonal heating systems for greater energy efficiency as well as sustainable drainage systems and the retention and creation of extensive areas of wildlife habitats and native planting.    

But, Westerleigh’s commitment goes far beyond new-crematoria developments. The group also continuously invests in reducing its impact on the environment through improving its existing processes, procedures, products and equipment.

The group has been recycling metals recovered during the cremation process for over 20 years and its ash boxes are made from fully biodegradable materials. Whilst they have always taken pride in the appearance of its grounds, in the recent years they have adopted more environmentally-sensitive landscaping to enhance retention of existing woodlands and meadows which not only enhance the environment and create habitats for wildlife, they also offer a calming atmosphere to the bereaved.

The Group’s Head of Quality & Standards, Jason King, recently addressed an environmental seminar organised by the FBCA and the ICCM (Institute of Cemetery and Cremation Management) where he spoke about the group’s work in reducing gas emissions and creating a business which operates some of the cleanest crematoria in the UK.

He said: “We have been proactive in trying to reduce the amount of gas used since our first Operation of Cremators Policy was release about 15 years ago. Our technicians receive high quality training by experienced staff from initial induction and later, refresher training through our internal Centre of Excellence programme. This ensures our technicians are not only proficient and able to operate with highest levels of care and dignity, they also understand their environmental responsibilities.

“Our commitment to improving local air quality even goes as far as exceeding the requirements of our environmental permits with recent installations of NOx abatement technology. This is a huge investment by Westerleigh and we are proud to be leading the industry on the improvement of air quality through NOx abatement”

The Association of Green Funeral Directors (AGFD), which run the Good Funeral Awards, said Westerleigh Group is the perfect partner for the awards and accompanying exhibition, due to its continuing commitment to improving sustainability and reducing its impact on the environment. Additionally, its Wessex Vale Crematorium, in Hampshire, was named Crematorium of the Year in the 2021 Good Funeral Awards.

Debbie Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Westerleigh Group, said: “We have an ethos of being a good neighbour, not only to the communities we serve, but also the environment, as we seek cleaner and greener ways to operate.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the Association of Green Funeral Directors and sponsoring this year’s awards and exhibition to help raise awareness of this important topic for our industry. We would like to wish all award nominees the best of luck in this year’s awards.”

William Wainman, Chairman of the AGFD, said: “The last two years have been extremely difficult for everyone and not being able to follow on the success of the 2019 awards and exhibition has been very frustrating.

“However, having Westerleigh Group support us in relaunching in 2022 means we will be able to deliver a truly excellent event for the industry.

“With cremations currently accounting for over 77% of funerals in the UK, the work that Westerleigh Group is doing to make these more environmentally friendly and sustainable, has never been more important.”

The AGFD has been unable to hold a face-to-face event since 2019, because of the pandemic, and hopes that this year’s will be bigger and better than ever, as a result.

To find out more about Westerleigh Group’s commitment to the environment, please visit them at stand 186 in Hall 1 at National Funeral Exhibition at Stoneleigh Park between 10-12 June or email centraloperations@westerleighgroup.co.uk