Lesley has over 20 years of experience in the industry and talks about how to personal a funeral, the questions people frequently ask, and her creative hobbies.
What made you choose a career in the funeral sector?
When my father passed away, I was quite young and working in an admin role in the Church. Like most younger people I didn’t know much about funerals but did my best to help my Mum with the arrangements. My interest was piqued and when I saw a job advert to be a funeral arranger, I decided to apply. Now over twenty years later, having worked in many different aspects of the funeral industry, I still enjoy my role as much as when I started.
What’s the best part of your role?
The most rewarding part of being a funeral arranger is helping the families who come through our doors. Understandably people are often very upset and can feel overwhelmed with the decisions that need to be made. It’s my job to listen very carefully, make all the arrangements and take the stress away from them.
Families want to give their loved one the best send off possible and I’m here to make sure everything is spot on and exactly as they have asked. We only get one chance to say goodbye, so it’s got to be perfect.
Can you give an example of how a family can personalise a funeral?
A lovely way to celebrate an individual’s life is by personalising the Order of Service so that family and friends can keep it as a memento. It can be designed with family photos, song lyrics, readings or poems and reflect a person’s passions and interests. We can also produce videos of photographs to display on a large screen as the service takes place.
Sometimes there are little personal touches that aren’t so obvious. I recently arranged a funeral for a lady who loved sewing. The family brought some spools of thread from her sewing basket, and we placed them within the floral arrangement on top of her coffin. From a distance they weren’t visible, but the family took comfort in knowing they were there. Often, it’s the simplest of gestures that bring the greatest comfort.
What questions do people ask the most?
Once the initial call has been made a family always ask when their loved one will be brought into our care. They take comfort in knowing their loved one is resting at our funeral home rather than the hospital.
The other questions we get asked are about prices. We clearly display all of our prices and can help a family give their loved one a high quality and dignified funeral service, without the hefty price tag.
What role does technology play in a funeral?
Nowadays it plays a big part as people who are not able to attend the service in person can log on and watch the funeral live. It means that relatives who live far aw, or those who may be shielding or unwell, can still join with family and friends to pay their respects and say goodbye.
What’s your favourite funeral tradition?
I love to see the tradition of paging away where the funeral conductor walks in front of the hearse and the funeral cortege the turns to bow to the deceased and their family. I find it so respectful. Also, it is nice to still see people stopping in the street and bowing their heads as the funeral cortege go past.
Away from work, how do you like to spend your free time?
A friend taught me how to crochet last year so now I crochet blankets for gifts and I’m always knitting jumpers for my one-year-old grandson. I like to make tablet for charity bake sales and I play the keyboards in a worship band at my church.