Meet Chris, a funeral arranger at Fosters East Kilbride.
Chris talks about why he became a funeral arranger, Buddy Holly and why a faithful pet helped one family say a final farewell.
How long have you worked for Fosters?
I’ve been working in the funeral industry for 3.5 years and joined Fosters in August as a mobile funeral arranger across Glasgow and the West. I’m now based in our new parlour in Fosters East Kilbride. It’s ideal as I live just five minutes down the road, which is particularly handy in winter as we all know EK has its own weather climate!
What made you choose to work in the funeral sector?
My Dad died suddenly when he was just 54. My brother and sister lived miles away, so I was the next of kin and had never organised a funeral before. I had no idea where to start and was very grateful to have someone to help me through the process. Having experienced it I wanted to be able to help families in that situation and that’s when I decided to become a funeral arranger.
Over the years I’ve had lots of jobs, from personal trainer to performing a Buddy Holly tribute act but with funeral arranging I feel like I’ve found my calling. It’s an extremely rewarding role knowing we bring families reassurance and peace of mind when they need it most.
What is the best part of your job?
No two days are the same because I get to meet so many different people. Retired people, younger family members, ministers, priests, celebrants, florists, and my colleagues all make my day-to-day life interesting. My role means I get to really know families in my local community and as a people person I really enjoy that. Like everyone else I’m looking forward to a time when we can enjoy a cuppa together, instead of having appointments over Zoom video calls. In saying that, the technology has been of great value to families during the pandemic as mourners can attend the funeral service online rather than in person.
What are the questions you get asked the most?
When going to collect the deceased to bring them into our care relatives always ask that we ‘take care of them’. I know from personal experience how upsetting a time it is and reassure them that the Fosters team will treat their loved one with the greatest dignity and respect, as if they were our own family. We take great pride in delivering a professional and compassionate service to those who entrust their loved one to our care.
What songs are requested the most at the funerals you’ve arranged?
The two that spring to mind are Bette Midler singing ‘Wind beneath my Wings’ and the hymn ‘Abide with Me’ which Susan Boyle performs a lovely version of.
Personally, I want my own funeral to be a celebration of life. I love karaoke so I’d want a big screen with the words to Abba songs that family and friends can sing along to. The final song would be by Queen, The Show Must Go On because I’d want people to remember the happy times and not be sad for too long.
Is there a particular funeral that sticks in your mind?
One of the very first funerals I organised for Fosters really struck a chord with me. The family were organising a funeral for a relative whose dog was his faithful companion, going to the pub and walking Calderglen Country Park with him. On the day of the funeral, they requested that the dog walk ahead of the hearse with the funeral director as they left the house and again when arriving at the crematorium.
It was a lovely mark of respect and a recognition of how much that wee dog had meant to the man. There were smiles as well as tears, it was a lovely way to personalise a funeral.
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
I’m really into running, cycling and fitness. Every year I run the London Marathon for Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland in memory of my Dad. I like a challenge and have been keeping busy renovating my house and garden. I’ve always got a wee project on the go.