Highest honour for bereavement services manager

A man from County Durham has been recognised for his commitment to providing a thoughtful and dedicated service for the bereaved.

Durham County Council’s bereavement services manager and registrar, Graham Harrison, was awarded the highest honour of becoming a fellow of the Institute of Cemeteries and Crematorium Management (ICCM) at its annual conference.

Graham, 49, from Consett, has worked in the bereavement industry since 1987. He now runs the council’s two crematoria, open cemeteries and closed churchyards, and is also the regional branch chair of the ICCM.

Fellowship of the institute is not conferred lightly. The institute says it recognises not only the professional ability of the person, but also the worth of their contribution to the institute, or to the profession, in the fields of burial, cremation or associated services.

Graham said: “I have worked in the bereavement industry for over 30 years, and to be awarded a fellowship from The Institute of Cemeteries and Crematorium Management has come as a huge shock.

“It was much unexpected to be nominated by the institute and my thanks go out to them. I feel that part of my job role is to provide a sensitive and respectful service fitting for the bereaved and it’s rewarding to be recognised for this, I am just doing my job.”

Over the past few years Graham has led projects to help transform the council’s crematoria, with the aim of improving the overall quality of experience for people who may need their service. Whether it be refurbishing the chapels, providing new book of remembrance facilities, or upgrading technical equipment, all of the work has been carried out whilst still delivering a highly sensitive service for the bereaved.

Cllr Owen Temple, chair of Mounsett Crematorium, sad: “Over the last ten years as chair of the Mountsett Crematorium I have benefited enormously from Graham’s expertise, wisdom and advice. The authority is very fortunate to have an officer of Graham’s calibre in charge of its bereavement services.”

Cllr Jean Chaplow, chair of Durham Crematorium, added: “I am delighted that Graham`s comprehensive knowledge, dedication, and caring approach to bereavement services throughout County Durham, has been recognised by the award of this fellowship. His contribution to the service and Durham County Council is outstanding.”