A HELENSBURGH-based funeral director has been elected as president of a leading national trade association.

Jim Auld, of James Auld Funeral Service, in East Clyde Street, was chosen to lead the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) at its AGM in Essex in March.

It makes Mr Auld – who lives in Kilcreggan - the first Scottish funeral director to hold the position in more than 20 years.

SAIF is a nationwide trade association which represents more than 900 independent funeral directing businesses throughout the UK.

Mr Auld’s presidency comes at a critical time for the profession, with regulation looming in Scotland and a UK Competition and Markets Authority investigation taking place over the next 18 months.

During his term at the helm of SAIF, Mr Auld plans to champion the rewarding nature of the work of independent funeral directors.

He said: “I really want to see working for or as an independent funeral director become recognised as a true vocation beyond the profession.

“A funeral director’s job is very much to be a part of local communities and provide outstanding service and care to people at life’s most difficult time.”

Of the changing regulatory landscape, Mr Auld added: “I’m very excited about working closely with colleagues at Scottish SAIF to ensure a smooth transition to a new statutory regime, whilst providing support and guidance to our members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Mr Auld, who has been in the funeral profession for 27 years, said bereavement trends were changing significantly.

“During my first nine years as a funeral director, every single funeral was a religious funeral. Nowadays around 40 to 45 per cent make no reference to religion of any kind - it’s a fascinating reflection of how society is changing,” he said.

“The other big change is the amount of time between a death and the funeral. It used to be two or three days but now it’s more like a week to 10 days in most cases.

“This is due to a range of factors, including more paperwork, families living further apart and limited timeslots at crematoria.”

Terry Tennens, chief executive of SAIF, said: “I’m very much looking forward to working with Jim over the coming 12 months in what is going to be a period of challenge and opportunity for our profession.

“Jim is a real gentleman and typifies the caring spirit of independent funeral directors across the land.

“We’ve no doubt he’ll be an outstanding flagbearer for SAIF members in 2019.”

During Mr Auld’s Presidential year, his chosen charity is Breast Cancer Care, a subject close to his heart as it has affected his own family and many of those whom his business serves.