A ST NEOTS company has reached the finals of the Government-backed National Training Awards for its work in preparing people to celebrate civil funerals. Civil Ceremonies Limited, winner of successive small business awards in The Hunts Post Huntingdonshir

A ST NEOTS company has reached the finals of the Government-backed National Training Awards for its work in preparing people to celebrate civil funerals.

Civil Ceremonies Limited, winner of successive small business awards in The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards in 2003 and 2004, will know on September 25 at a ceremony at Cambridge Guildhall whether it will go forward to the UK finals in London in December.

Civil funerals are alternatives to religious or humanist celebrations, although they may include religious elements, said Anne Barber, managing director of Civil Ceremonies and chairman of the Institute of Civil Funerals.

"We have all been to funerals where the eulogy has not done justice to the person or the names are wrong. This is about getting everything right," she said.

"A civil funeral is driven by the wishes, belief and values of the deceased and their family, not by the belief or ideology of the person conducting the funeral."

The company's three-and-a-half day accredited residential courses are held at the Claret Conference Centre at Buckden Towers. Five or six courses, each for up to 12 delegates, have been run there during each of the past six years.

"It's a pretty tough course that typically appeals to retired or semi-retired professional people, such as teachers, lawyers or police officers," said Anne, who directs the courses.

"It trains people in how best to interview sympathetically and sets a standard that a funeral deserves," he colleague Krysia Niezgoda added. "They work alongside funeral directors, who have more choice and can guarantee the person who will be dealing with the funeral."

INFORMATION: Institute of Civil Funerals, PO Box 160, St Neots PE19 5WL; telephone 0845 0048608; e-mail: info@iocf.org.uk.