Updated: Oct 6, 2019
CELEBRATING TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME
Published in Funeralcare magazine March 2019
By Kay Paku, Trustee, Funeral Service Training Trust
A 170-strong crowd celebrated the first-ever joint graduation ceremony of funeral directing and embalming students in Wellington on March 1.
A total of 31 graduates received either the NZ Diploma in Embalming or the NZ Diploma in Funeral Directing at the WelTec ceremony in Porirua.
Later, the graduates and other guests attended the graduation dinner at Shed 6 on the Wellington waterfront.
Opening the evening’s festivities, MC John Duncan welcomed the graduates and their supporters to the industry equivalent of the Oscars, complete with envelopes.
As owners and developers of the diploma programmes, the Funeral Service Training Trust is proud of the internationally recognised qualifications in Funeral Directing and Embalming.
On behalf of FSTT, Chair John Schipper extended his congratulations to the graduates, and acknowledged the investment of employers, supervisors, and families in supporting them in their achievements. He urged the graduates to continue to share their knowledge and commitment to excellence in this vitally important profession and reinforced the individual responsibility to share the importance of a meaningful funeral. He challenged them to seize the day, seize the opportunity to spread their knowledge, educate the public, invigorate their colleagues, and in the moment, to enjoy their well-earned celebration.
The President of the Embalmers Association, Nick Evans spoke about the value of proactive networking within the industry and sharing the knowledge the graduates had gained. This was echoed by Funeral Directors Association President Gary Taylor, who encouraged the graduates to use their knowledge and skills to create memorable experiences for their client families.
The awards ceremony kicked off with the presentation of the Noel McNee Memorial Award, presented to the top practical student in embalming. This award is in memory of Noel McNee, who holds the distinction of being the oldest person, at 66, to graduate from an embalming course and be admitted to membership of NZEA. When he passed away in 1982 at the age of 68, NZEA members wished to recognise his abilities and achievement, and ensure his memory would live on in this award.
Last year’s winner Elise Wolfgram, in thoughts read out by Nick Evans, reflected on the commitment required to overcome the difficulty of studying away from home, friends, colleagues and safety nets. Handing on the mantle, she wished the new graduates a future as successful as their distribution, goals as easy to grasp as their vessels, and that their work help ease the grief of those who have lost everything.
This year, the recipient was Cassie Murphy, from Gee & Hickton, Lower Hutt, who was presented with the award by Nick Evans.
Endeavour Awards are presented to students from each discipline who show commitment, effort, and endeavour over and above what is ordinarily required to complete the programme; including attendance and punctuality, professionalism beyond reproach, and commitment to study and completion. The Baldwin Endeavour Award for the Funeral Directing course was presented by Emma Worthington of Baldwins Manufacturing. This year’s award went to two recipients: Glenn Davies of The Lychway Funeral Directors, Palmerston North, and Garth Williams of Te Awamutu Funeral Services.
The Communio Endeavour Award for the embalming course was presented by Dianne Ball of Communio. This year’s award went to Jivanni Adams of Abrahams Funeral Home, New Plymouth.
Dianne also presented the Communio Behavioural Science Award, for the student who achieved the highest mark in the Behavioural Science component of the funeral directing course. This year’s award went to Anna Wolffram of Lychgate Funeral Home, Wellington.
The Lucentt Top Theory Awards are presented to students who achieved the highest aggregate marks across all theory assessments in both diploma courses. Presented by Mark Chaffe of Lucentt, this year’s awards went to Jacqueline Cox of Vospers Funeral Home, New Plymouth (Funeral Directing) and Ethyn Milliken of Evans Funeral Services, Gisborne (Embalming).
The final awards were the Regal Supreme Awards for the top overall student in each course, achieving top marks across all course work and examinations in their respective discipline. The awards were presented by Matt Worthington of Regal Manufacturers. Scooping the pool were top theorists in their respective disciplines, Ethyn Milliken and Jacqueline Cox.
Congratulations to all award winners – we’re immensely proud of your achievements.
Special thanks to all sponsors, without whom the event would not be possible.
The joint celebration of our profession’s two disciplines reminds us that funeral directors and embalmers are at their best working together to enhance the funeral experience for client families. Celebrating together among industry peers, colleagues, and sponsors allows us to appreciate achievements, share knowledge, and provide support and encouragement across the sector.
To echo the sentiment expressed by so many on the night: why would we do it any other way?
More photographs by James Peryer available here: