Meet Julie, funeral arranger at Fosters Motherwell.
Julie talks about paging away, top hats and a football fan’s final farewell.
Tell us a little about your career?
Apparently when I was a wee girl, I told my Mum that I wanted to work in the funeral directors. I don’t know where that idea came from, but I guess you could say it’s the right role for me as I’ve been working with bereaved families for over 18 years now. I think it’s a great honour to help a family arrange a funeral and say a final goodbye.
I’ve worked in various roles within Fosters, always looking after families. I’m currently based in our new funeral home, Fosters Motherwell, which is opposite Primark in the shopping centre. I’m the first person that people see when they come through the door and it’s important to me that they feel welcome, and that the service they receive is compassionate and professional.
What’s the best part of your role?
I find it very rewarding to help a family through what is undoubtedly a very difficult time. Often families feel daunted and upset when they first come into the funeral home, especially if they’ve never had to plan a funeral before. I feel very privileged to be trusted with their loved ones and to guide them through arranging a funeral. I make sure everything is taken care of from completing paperwork to personalising the service, so they don’t have to worry.
What questions do you get asked the most?
When I used to conduct funerals; I always wore a black top hat. People asked if I had to practice walking in it which used to make me smile because it was quite comfy! Apart from that the questions I get asked a lot are practical ones, about how many people can attend a funeral or if personal items can be placed in the coffin.
Can you give an example of a personalised funeral you’ve arranged?
At Fosters Motherwell we offer pre-paid funeral plans and people can specify exactly what they’d like for their final farewell. The other day I was chatting with a gentleman who told me he was football daft, and that in 50 years he’d never missed a Scotland match. He has travelled around the world with the Tartan Army. In his pre-paid funeral plan, he specifies that his coffin is to be painted like the Scotland flag and he wants to wear his football shirt and ‘lucky’ tartan shorts on his final journey.
I wish more people talked to their loved ones about the inevitable because when the time comes it brings comfort to those you leave behind, knowing they’ve honoured your wishes.
There are so many little things we can do to help to give their loved one a fitting send-off. It could be something very subtle, like our staff wearing ties in a favourite colour or a specific song.
What’s your favourite funeral tradition?
Paging away from the family home, the crematorium or church is my favourite funeral tradition. It is a mark of respect to both the deceased and their family and is so dignified. It tugs on my heart strings every time. At Fosters it’s something we do as standard, and the funeral conductors always look immaculate in their suit and hat.
Outside of work, how do you spend your time?
I spend as much time as I can with my family, especially my grandkids. I’m a sociable person and enjoy going out for dinner or drinks or having friends and family round for a get together. I love relaxing with a good book and a glass of wine and I go horse riding when time permits.