Meet Sarah, Fosters Hamilton.
Sarah talks about her role helping local families and why simple gestures can bring great comfort in difficult times.
What made you choose this as a career?
I’ve been interested in the funeral industry from a very young age. When I was 14, my Uncle sadly passed away and I was very intrigued by the role the funeral directors played. The funeral staff were very calm and reassuring so even though I was young, I felt very comfortable visiting the parlour. I had lots of questions about what happened behind the scenes and was impressed by how the whole process worked.
For years I worked in customer services roles, laterly for HSBC in Hamilton in the bereavement department, helping families organise their loved ones affairs. When the opportunity to work as a funeral arranger for Fosters came along I was really keen to learn more. I spoke at length to a family friend who works in the industry and knew it was the right career move for me. And here I am, finally working in my perfect role!
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my role is being there for the families when they need you the most. Anyone who has experienced grief knows the days following a loved one’s passing can be an exhausting and difficult time. So, it’s essential that we’re there to support families and do whatever we can to help them through it.
I feel very fortunate to be able to work in my home town and to give something back to my local community. Hamilton is a great place to live and we do like to take care of each other.
How can a family personalise a funeral?
There are lots of little things we can do to ensure a funeral reflects an individual’s life. Recent examples are our staff wearing rainbow flag ties for a gentleman’s funeral, and placing a pair of ballet shoes on top of a coffin for a dance teacher. It is often the simplest of gestures that bring the greatest comfort to family and friends gathering to say goodbye.
At Fosters we do our best to accommodate all requests. Families have the option to keep things low key, or to celebrate a life with a colourful coffin and a horse drawn hearse. It’s a very personal choice, often made easier when the person has made their wishes known to their next of kin. Understandably people avoid talking about the inevitable, but having a pre-paid funeral plan in place can make things much easier for those you leave behind.
Do you have a favourite funeral tradition?
Yes, I think that paging away the hearse is such a lovely gesture as it shows the utmost respect to both the deceased and to their loved ones. For those who aren’t familiar with the tradition, it’s when the funeral conductor walks in front of the hearse as they leave the family home and arrive for the funeral service, turn and tip their hat and bow.
Can you give an example of attention to detail in your day to day role?
I recently arranged a funeral for a gentleman who had relatives living abroad. I found out exactly what the time difference was between the UK and the USA so that we could plan the funeral service at a time that worked for everyone.
In the past year technology has played an even bigger role in enabling families to pay their respects, as lockdown has restricted the number of people who can attend the funeral in person.
We offer a Zoom call service to people who are shielding although of course people can still visit the parlour by booking an appointment.
Outside of work how do you spend your time?
My partner and I have two dogs, Bella and Buzz who keep us fit with all the walking that we like to do. Buzz is still a pup at only 8 months old and full of energy and Bella lives with epilepsy, so they keep us busy. I love relaxing with a good book and enjoy making wax melts. I find it very therapeutic, and they smell amazing!