Funeral Directors Category: West Midlands
Attwood Funerals is truly family owned and run – Michael Spohrer owns and runs the business with his mother Kate. Together they comprise the entire staff of the business, making it certain that you will be dealing with people who are dedicated to you and your family.
Mike’s route to becoming a funeral director began back in 2007. Kate trained as a celebrant, and she used to ask Mike to read through her scripts and help prepare keepsake copies for families. Drawn into the world of funerals in this way, Mike then found employment working for two local funeral companies. Their ways of operating were quite different, and Mike was able to observe and learn from both of them. He quickly realised how rewarding and fulfilling the work of a funeral director was, and he learned all aspects of the role, discovering that he really enjoyed helping people at this difficult time.
Existing funeral businesses in the area, while differently owned and operated, all seemed to offer similar traditional services, with little scope for creative, individual input, and this realisation led to Mike deciding that he would like to offer something different. He wanted to be able to offer clients a far greater range and opportunity to be involved in creating a funeral ceremony that was exactly right for them, something that he knew was possible, both from his own reading and learning about the changing world of funerals, and from discussions with Kate as she talked about ceremonies she was involved with from further afield.
Mike chose to undergo training from Green Fuse initially, going on to achieve the NAFD Diploma, which gives him good standing in the face of any future regulation which may be brought in. He also notes good practice whenever he observes it and takes inspiration from others who are working in the way he wants to, which is to offer connected funerals where clients have the opportunity to be as involved as they wish. “We start with each client’s needs, listen to what they want and build it up from there,” says Mike, “We never try to sell people anything they don’t need or don’t want.”
The company started slowly, with Mike and Kate working with another local funeral director who offered their facilities as they were needed, and supported Mike and Kate with staff and / or vehicles as required. As time went on it was apparent that Attwood Funerals was offering a service that people wanted, and Mike began looking for suitable premises where they would be able to have a permanent home, and where they could work the way they wanted to – “we’re people first, and funeral directors second so you will find us relaxed and approachable and wearing everyday clothes, not the usual somber black attire.”
It was their accountant who told them about a vacant property that had previously been a funeral director’s branch office – on the ground floor underneath the accountant’s office. Attwood Funerals had found a home, and Mike and Kate set about making it reflect the open, modern and transparent values which make the company stand out from the many similar, more old-fashioned funeral companies in the area. Attwood House is a double-fronted, bright, light and modern premises located in a side street opposite a rugby club. There’s a bus stop right outside, and plenty of free parking on the roads around if the client parking on the forecourt is occupied. Planters and hanging baskets are filled with bright flowers, and a wooden lattice frames the door.
When you step in through the front door, you find yourself in the reception and arranging area, with comfortable leather sofa and chairs and a small desk on one side. The wooden floor and bright pictures on the walls add to the sense that you’re in a place where colour and beauty is appreciated, there’s nothing funereal at all about this space. Next to the bookcase behind the desk is a small table with a coffee machine, and you’ll be offered refreshment as you sit down – it all adds to the feeling of being made welcome.
To the right of the entrance the light pours in through the large window, flooding the wide corridor with daylight. At the far end there is a door leading to the family room, where you can spend time with the person who has died, and this can also be used for small ceremonies, with seating for around 18 people. For those who choose a direct cremation, or who are having a burial but don’t want a ceremony in a church beforehand, this is an invaluable option, offering space for a ceremony with the coffin present. A doorway leading to the mortuary is covered by beautiful light, colourful curtains, creating an intimate space that can be personalised by families as they wish. Using the family room for ceremonies can also be a way of keeping costs to a minimum for families who have a tight budget.
As you would expect from a company that is so modern in its outlook, Attwood Funerals is completely transparent about their pricing. Prices can be found on their website here with clear indication of what is included in both their full funeral service and their direct cremation service, along with a breakdown of the prices for each of the individual components. Costs are extremely reasonable, neither Mike nor Kate is motivated by making a large profit, and they believe that a respectful funeral should be available to everyone at an affordable price. They don’t have a large fleet of cars that need to be out on the road earning money – in fact Attwood Funerals have just one vehicle, a silver, fully equipped Chrysler Grand Voyager, which can be used as a hearse with room for one or two family members to travel with the coffin if they want. Alternatively, it can be used to transport family members if the coffin is travelling in another vehicle. Families who choose to have a traditional hearse can do so for an additional fee, or the company can arrange hire of any other kind of hearse (eco, motorcycle, horse-drawn, VW camper van and so on) – all approximate costs for vehicles are also shown on the website.
All of the aspects of organising a funeral are carried out between Mike and Kate, from collecting people who have died, through to caring for their bodies, bathing and anointing them with oil, and preparing them for their funerals. Caring for their families is of equal importance, and both Mike and Kate will be dedicated to ensuring that each family achieves the funeral that they want, listening carefully to the initial thoughts, making suggestions where needed, and ensuring that every aspect of the funeral is carried out exactly as each family wants.
Kate’s background has led her quite naturally to working with people who have been bereaved. She grew up in a rectory as her father was a parish priest, and she followed her head teacher mother into education, working as a teacher in special needs and religious education. She holds a degree in Law and a Master’s degree in Religious Education, and she practices as a psychotherapist (she is an NLP Clinical Masters Practitioner). Alongside her celebrancy work, she is also a bereavement counselor and a Spiritual Companion and a skilled public speaker, and she runs a weekly meditation group attended by some of Attwood Funerals’ former clients – in essence, Kate is possibly one of the best qualified funeral arrangers we’ve ever met!
Funerals that are therapeutic and healing, and individually designed to suit each family who chooses them. Transparency and connection are really important to both Mike and Kate, as is the sheer humanity of the work that they do. They will meet you as straightforward, kind people who are there to help you achieve the funeral that you want, and they have taken away all of the barriers and complications that traditional funeral companies have in place. No black somber uniforms, no sitting behind big desks, no assumptions about what is right for you – this is a modern, young, fresh business with a modern approach to funerals.
Being clear, open and honest, with a fully transparent website and plenty of information available to possible clients before they decide to use Attwood Funerals. Exemplary care for those who have died. More customer choice, offering more involvement and engagement to families, offering suggestions or ideas that might inspire clients and lead to a better experience for them.
Pretty much everything if you’re comparing with other traditional funeral companies in the area – Attwood Funerals is one of the new kinds of funeral directors, with a fresh modern look and approach to the task of caring for the dead and their families. Mike and Kate are bringing an intelligent, professional and modern kind of funeral directing to the area, and in comparison with them, traditional funeral businesses suddenly appear outdated and staid. Mike and Kate’s priorities are people, not vehicles, and this is evident when you look at their website. They are natural, normal and kind, and their work is utterly vocational. They’re thoughtful too, even down to offering families sprigs of Rosemary for remembrance.
- Your first callwill be answered by Mike or Kate.
- Home visits? Absolutely
- Same sex person to wash and dress?Yes – both Mike and Kate do this, if you want just same sex people to care for your relative let them know.
- Embalming? Not unless specifically requested by a family or in extreme circumstances.
- Ethnic / cultural specialism? The local community is not particularly diverse so most clients have come from white backgrounds, but Mike and Kate are always happy to accommodate clients from other backgrounds or cultures and to learn new ways of doing things.
- Local celebrants – there are several excellent celebrants that Mike and Kate have worked with, selected for their lack of ego, skills in facilitating ceremonies and ability to put clients at ease. Mike sits in on ceremonies so has a good knowledge of how each celebrant delivers.
- Vehicles– not a priority. Hired in as required by families, otherwise the Grand Voyager is available.
- Website– really nice website. Bright, up to date and easy to navigate. Lots of information, and prices fully broken down. Nice photo of Mike and Kate on the About Us page too.
- Client support – superb throughout, with the option of ongoing support after the funeral. Attwood Funerals offer ‘Life, Love and Loss’ circles one evening a month, and Kate is working with Nicky, a meditation teacher, offering Healing Loss Circles which offer an emotionally safe space for exploring loss and grief.
- Money matters – Exceptionally good value for the personal service that you will receive. Prices
- Parking– unrestricted on the surrounding roads.
Attwood Funerals is a breath of fresh air – a funeral business run by exactly the kind of people you would want helping you if someone you loved died. The comments left on their facebook page are testament to this personal connection that clients feel – here’s an excerpt from one;
‘….Kate and Mike took care of all the paperwork and formalities and told us exactly what we needed to do our end which made it a lot easier for us as we had no idea about the formalities that had to happen. They were very attentive and made regular appointments to come out to see us.
As we developed more ideas for the ceremony, they found a way to make everything happen the way we wanted it. They also suggested low cost options and wanted to save us money wherever possible. For example we wanted a Land Rover to take Dad’s coffin, and since we still had Dad’s Land Rover, Kate and Mike spent time sorting it out so that Dad’s coffin could fit in it to go to the ceremony (which he would have loved!)…’
One day, maybe all funeral directors will realise that this simple, generous approach is the way to make funerals better for everyone. In the meantime, the people of Kidderminster and the surrounding areas are extremely lucky to have a modern funeral business on their doorstep.