The embalmer magazine / RAY’S EMBALMING COLLEGIATE

Geoff Taylor, of GT Embalming, has been associated with embalming education in Germany for 16 years. Geoff was therefore the obvious choice for conference organisers Heiko Shonsee (VDT President) and Joerg Vieweg, to join the VDT membership in celebrating their recent anniversary, which took place on June 5th and 6th in Hamburg Germany.

The theme of the 2-day conference was education. Specifically, restoration and reconstruction. Having two days of educational material to produce and deliver, Geoff asked Ray Hood to accompany him since Ray has been a post-mortem reconstructive specialist for some years and is currently a ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for the ‘Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills’ in Springfield Missouri. An academy specialising in the teaching of ‘Reconstructive Surgery’.


Geoff and Ray were to be the only invited speakers on both days. They addressed around fifty embalmers who had flown in for the conference from not only Germany, but also Lithuania and Austria. The core of Geoff’s sessions focused on embalming prior to reconstruction, and aftercare. This was a vast subject which prompted many questions.

Assisting on both days were two translators. Pictured here during one questioning session is Anja Schlange owner of a funeral home in Bremerhaven and volunteer interpreter, who very kindly stepped forward on the initial day, speedily becoming an invaluable helper.

Geoff also covered embalming fluids and chemicals available in both Britain, and on the continent. He compared and contrasted items available from different European manufacturers product ranges, demonstrating a vast product knowledge.

Ray talked about advanced post-mortem reconstructive surgery following varying degrees of trauma, giving power point presentations on both days. He described alternative techniques to overcome the most common, and the not so common problems, that might be encountered during reconstruction. Together with Geoff he debated not only alternative fluids and chemicals, but also waxing and cosmetology, to the delight of all present.


There was a little time for relaxation, however. The first day was rounded off by a visit to a beach area on the river Elbe, which runs through Hamburg. It was great, and following some liquid refreshments, in the region of 60 VDT members and guests decamped to a local restaurant until around midnight.

On the final day, Geoff explained that he and Ray had worked together on other occasions. After being asked what the nature of the work was, Geoff proceeded to show slides of both he and Ray working in Comoros in the Indian Ocean, and in the Philippines, when they were part of the ‘Global Partnership DVI’ team.

This was well received, putting a different dimension to the subject of reconstruction and massive trauma resulting from catastrophe, opening up yet another avenue for further discussion.

Ray was then prompted to present a slideshow of his time in Thailand following the Tsunami. ‘Ray was there thanks to Kenyon International Emergency Services’ working under the authority of the Australian Government and DFAT.


The German DVI team, some of whom were DVT members currently present , were also in Thailand, and Ray had captured one of them on camera in Khaolak, which housed one of the first disaster victim reception centres.

Ray was able to explain in some detail what amazing work the German team, alongside all the other nationalities involved in helping with the mass fatality recovery operations, had carried out in the wake of the Tsunami. Following which the DVT members present gave their compatriots a resounding standing ovation.

During his closing speech, VDT President Heiko Schonsee thanked Geoff and Ray for their contributions in helping the weekend conference achieve success.

Time seemed to pass all too quickly not only for those DVT members present, but for Geoff and Ray, not least because the German hospitality was absolutely second to none!

The photograph shows most of the conference delegates following the closing ceremony. Geoff Taylor, quite rightly, takes pride of place, seated like royalty in front of his subjects. Pictured on the extreme left is Heiko Schonsee (VDT President), alongside Joerg Vieweg, who jointly organised the weekend. Pictured far right is Bea, joint interpreter during the weekend.