The Ideal Death Show

Speakers and Programme


If you can please join us at the Highcliff Hotel from 5pm in the bar for a cup of tea.

For early-arrivals we’ll have a buffet at Harry’s Bar in the Highcliff Hotel on the Friday evening from 7pm.

Exhibitors can set up from 6pm, if they wish.







Have the ultimate ice-breaker on your lanyard. Click here to calculate your estimated day of death. Send it to us and we’ll print it on your name badge.









Kevin Toolis

Kevin is the writer of My Father’s Wake: How the Irish Teach us to Live, Love and Die.

He will talk about why Irish wakes are such a powerful ritual in the face of death.

He has made a number of films on the terrorism in the Middle East that have been nominated for Emmys and won a BAFTA.

His is also the author of a classic account of the Irish Troubles Rebel Hearts: Journeys Within the IRA’s Soul, a study of the IRA.


Angie McLachlan

Credit University of Winchester

Angie now travels around the UK teaching ‘Care of the Body’ classes with Ichabod Smith.

She has also been called in to work with the hospice and hospital sector to discuss End of Life policy and care plans – often in an advisory capacity at the request of Funeral Directors who are faced with the care of complex cases. She will speak about her personal observations of 27 years of working in the field of end of life…and will take a look into the future.



Ken West

Ken retired in 2006 after 45 years in cemetery and crematorium work. His career started on his fifteenth birthday in 1961 as a gardener in Shrewsbury Cemetery.

In 2002, he was awarded the MBE by HRH Queen Elizabeth for services to burial and cremation and an Honorary MA by Durham University in 2012.

He introduced individual burial of stillbirths in 1975, stopping the mass burial that had persisted since 1855.

Ken will be speaking about his pioneering work on natural burial, which celebrates a 25th anniversary this year



Catherine Betley

Catherine has over 20 years’ experience of managing counselling and therapy organisations, starting and developing new projects and ventures and delivering training and support to a huge range of organisations. She will be talking about, ‘Grieving in the digital age’.

In 2012, Catherine founded Professional Help, which specialises in delivering counselling and therapy services including employee support counselling and bereavement counselling and runs projects including SAIF Care, the national bereavement care service of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors. In 2017 Catherine set up GriefChat®, which is the first online webchat bereavement counselling service in the world.

In her spare time Catherine enjoys running, live music, spending time with her family and walking her two lovely Labradors in the beautiful Lake District.


Anne Beckett-Allen

Anne joined the funeral profession at the age of 16 and is now one of the most highly qualified funeral directors in the country.

She will be speaking on how people involved in the funeral business can think about mental health in the workplace and their own self-care

Anne is a Mental Health First Aid Instructor with Mental Health First Aid England and also a registered tutor with the National Association of Funeral Directors, investing a lot of her time tutoring students for the Diploma in Funeral Directing and delivering talks to raise awareness around Mental Health issues and encouraging conversations around death and dying.

Anne is also a VQ Assessor and a lecturer for the Foundation Degree in Funeral Services at Bath University.



Lucy Talbot

Lucy is a PhD student at the University of Winchester, her work explores The Cross Bones Graveyard in Southwark, London, where she also volunteers as a site warden.

She will describe her work in the Cross Bones Graveyard in Southwark

She is interested in the relationship between death and space, death rituals and community heritage.

In 2016, Lucy wrote Little Book of Maudism, the book comprises of ten lessons to live and die by from the ultimate death positive film, Harold and Maude.

She is also co-founder of the feminist death website, Death and the Maiden.


Stephen Nimmo

For over 15 years, Stephen has taken a lead role in the repatriation of UK Servicemen from abroad.

He will speak about the challenges of his work with Disaster Management International.

His specialist knowledge of dealing with multiple fatalities, both civilian and military has led to being appointed the preferred funeral director for the Royal Marines.

He is the managing director of Chester Pearce funeral service and will offer some insights into this challenging work.



Frances Ciardini

Frances went to university at the age of 40 after bringing up four children and suffering a serious illness at 38.

Being ill is what motivated her to start studying! She gained a BSc in Forensic and Crime Scene Science and went on to gain a MSc in Recovery and Identification of Human Remains.

She worked in Libya for a month on the Search and Recovery Team after a plane crashed in Tripoli and that’s where she developed an interest in becoming an APT.

She was lucky to be offered a position in Bournemouth Public Mortuary where she has been for seven years. Her talk will be: A Day in the life of an Anatomical Pathology Technologist.



Richard Martin

Founder of the leading website for advice on cremation ashes Scattering Ashes, Richard has been blogging and speaking about cremated remains for 10 years.

His research work has focussed on where you can and cannot scatter ashes; from football grounds to National Trust properties. He also shortly due to publish an exciting piece of research about the public’s attitudes to crematoria.

Richard will speak about the environmental impact of scattering ashes.



Laura McHarrie

Laura will be introducing the speakers. In the past Laura, a Distinguished Toastmaster, has MCed the Dorset Open4Business Awards, several Burn’s Night Suppers and myriad networking events and seminars. Moreover, she previously compèred the Ideal Death Show when it was last here in Bournemouth.




Annabel de Vetten

We’ve commissioned Annabel de Vetten from Conjurer’s Kitchen to make one of her cakes to exhibit at the show.





More speakers to be announced in the coming weeks. While we strive to make sure that all speaker appear as booked, we can’t guarantee their appearance.