I created Bereavement Assistance Limited with the help of my friend and fellow Civil Celebrant Bernard Moray. We were generously gifted with a financial donation from a personal friend (Hank) and the much-needed high level of support freely given by former Victorian Police Commissioner and BAL’s Patron S.I. Miller AO. Bernard was highly skilled as a Civil Celebrant, but he also possessed additional skills as a CPA that BAL desperately needed.
Not knowing the future of BAL and how big it might become, I enlisted the support of my son Kieran as a founding Director with myself and Bernard. Kieran was advancing his career in a large multinational at the time and had begun to develop strategic skills that I hoped would benefit BAL in the future. The three of us comprised the original volunteer board, with Bernard and Kieran continuing as Directors as we approach our 20th year.
My other son Corey was also a supporter of my charitable work, and in the early days both he and Kieran would both devote some of their days off from work and weekends to assist me in the conducting of funerals and duties that helped raise funds to support BAL. Admittedly, they had no funeral experience and the learning curve was steep and gritty at times, but they stayed the course and became a necessary source of support for me when the need for more funerals grew to overwhelming numbers. In more recent years Corey was integral to the installation of BAL’s current premises, with Kieran assisting with custom fit out and furniture additions.
BAL was born out of need and has always operated in an environment of suppressed demand, Kieran recognised that one of BAL’s risks was to grow too quickly and at such a rate that it could easily collapse under the weight of financial burden and over demand for services. BAL would need careful management to survive and required a planned evolution to a self-sustaining model.
After a dozen years of solid contribution, the responsibility and daily workload of BAL begun to take its toll on my health and Kieran agreed to take up a leadership role within the Board to introduce Corporate Governance and develop the changes necessary to see it become a self sustaining entity.
It was agreed with the Board that as Founding Governor I would transition into a more focussed role with our Patron, allowing us the freedom to work on high level networking and influencing opportunities.
The need to keep BAL servicing Victorians-in-need is a key component of the foundation that supports BAL’s purpose. After careful consideration it was agreed by both Bernard and Kieran that with the great changes that were going to be experienced over the next ten years the Board needed to maintain the passion for service to others at its core and Corey took over my place as Director in 2012 to support and maintain the original vision alongside Bernard and Kieran. Corey’s duties include staff selection, equipment management and weekly leadership meetings with Bernard, Kieran and Adrian, BAL’s Business Development Manager.
Come 2012, with Corey installed as Director, the time was right to begin the work needed to take BAL from a humble, service-based local charitable business model and expand it into a self-sustaining leader of charitable purpose for all people in the state of Victoria. This included creating and executing plans to build the first of our own funeral homes (guaranteeing a place to operate for life), changing the nature of the organisation to include a permanent self managing contingent of staff, creating a Social Enterprise model to bring in regular funding for charitable clients and expand the board to introduce the benefits of an established legal practitioner (Rawle Watson-Jones) and introduce the expertise of someone familiar with a larger modelled Board and Business-experienced mind (Lynda Long).
We are currently in the middle of this enormous transition and very pleased with the progress to date, BALs service to Victorians is going through another growth period and the Social Enterprise model has passed its 2 year experimental phase with great success. Through all of this Bernard has stayed as a constant member of the volunteer board and used his skills as an accountant admirably to protect BAL’s financial future.
I am especially pleased that my sense of giving back to the community is being expanded exponentially by both my sons and the respected staff at BAL, we think of them as a part of our extended family.
Regardless of my boys starting as volunteers in an industry they had no experience in, they maintained a strong sense of duty, contributed good business sense and fostered a great passion to help BAL grow into the respected organisation it is today.
A delightful footnote:
I am proud to say that BAL will celebrate 20 years serving Victorians in 2017!
Such is the nature of our commitment to service; we still operate with a volunteer board and continue to expand our services to cover more folks in need. In time we hope to be readily available to all areas within the state of Victoria.
Ted Worthington OAM
Bereavement Assistance Limited