Funeral Director/s: J Read more [...]
Funeral Directors Category: East Midlands
Joseph Barsby is the managing director, and very much at the helm of this jewel of a family business in the heart of Hinckley. Joseph has had overall control of the business since 2014, taking over from his father David, the driving force behind the business for the previous four decades. David remains in the background as Chairman, but his influence and progressive approach is still very much part of the G. Seller ethos.
Joseph is the third generation Barsby to have stewardship of the company, his grandfather Charlie Barsby having taken over from George Seller of Hinckley in 1964 when George retired. Charlie, had been born in Newbold Verdon in 1916, and at the age of 14 had been apprenticed as a wheelwright. By the end of the war, Charlie was running his own Coachbuilding and Funeral Furnishers’ company, Bostock and Barsby Ltd in Barwell, and he forged a partnership with George in the early 1950’s. When the time for retirement came, George offered Charlie first refusal to purchase the Hinckley business which Charlie accepted immediately.
He clearly was successful in those very early years, because just four years later, G. Seller moved into new, purpose built premises where they remain to this day (albeit now completely refurbished). For the times, these premises must have been tremendously impressive, with modern chapels of rest and mortuary facilities, and garaging for the new Rolls Royce fleet including a Phantom limousine previously owned by Billy Smart and a second that had been used in Scotland to transport dignitaries including, it is believed, Her Majesty The Queen.
Charlie’s son David gave up thoughts of a sporting career to join the family business, and went off to London at the age of 17 to train as an embalmer. He passed with the highest marks in the country, and went on to become one of the youngest ever fully qualified funeral directors in the UK.
Like father, like son – there is clearly a family trait of dedication and commitment that has passed down through the family to Joseph, as he too shows absolute determination to maintain the core values of the company, but not to stand still.
Prior to joining the family business, Joseph had set up his own sports nutrition business at the age of 18, and he had hopes of a career in rugby, but a serious spinal injury meant that this was not possible. He joined G. Seller in 2011 in the memorial department, learning all aspects about memorials and qualifying as a memorial fixer and safety inspector.
In 2014, the young woman who was to become Joseph’s future wife, Amy E. Smith joined the business and took over Joseph’s role in the memorial department, enabling him to step into his father’s shoes and take on the overall running of the company. He didn’t waste time in making improvements – in August 2017, the 30,000 square feet site in Upper Bond Street underwent a complete transformation and refurbishment which was completed in January 2019, a tremendous upheaval for all the team, but one which has paid dividends.
The result is stunning, a state of the art funeral home with everything that you could want in one place. From the moment you arrive and park in the large free parking space between the buildings, you can see that this is a company that takes pride in everything they do. We had a complete tour of the premises, and everywhere was spotless, everyone was charming, polite and friendly, every single tiny detail had been attended to – the amount of thought that has gone into the impression that this makes is extraordinary.
On one side of the courtyard parking area is the old Co-operative Bakehouse & Corner Shop which has now been converted to a memorial workshop and memorial showroom, with the new Barsby Service Chapel and catering suite above. The history of the building is retained with a large plaque on the wall, and the original clock, dating back to the 1850’s, on the corner of the building is still in situ, a beautiful feature in the very popular catering suite.
The service chapel can seat up to 55 people, and can be used by those with all faiths and none. Elegant and contemporary, with wooden flooring and furnishings in the recognisable G. Seller colouring, it offers families an alternative venue for ceremonies without the time pressures of crematoria chapels, and there is also the opportunity to hold a reception in the adjoining catering suite – a lovely space with the original high beamed roof exposed, comfortable high backed chairs at small tables each with a lotus flower candle holder. The in house catering team offer various menus and the premises are fully licensed, meaning that every kind of reception can be catered for.
Below the beautiful new facilities for ceremonies and receptions, the memorial showroom is accessed from Upper Bond Street. You can see and touch all of the many different kinds of memorials, and prices are clearly displayed so you can see at a glance whether a particular style is within a budget. At the rear of the showroom, another room holds an array of options for cremated remains, ranging from stone sculptures that can be placed in a garden through the many varieties of different containers to specially designed jewellery.
There is a small separate room for privacy when discussing memorial arrangements and beyond a further door is the specially designed columbarium. This is a room where any cremated remains not collected by families are kept in individual niches, each one separate from each other, and all carefully recorded. Joseph feels strongly that cremated remains should be treated with the same reverence as the bodies of those who have died, and he has ensured that this practice is embedded in the G. Seller culture.
Back in the main part of the building, you enter into a large, light and modern reception area, from which doors open into three private arranging rooms, each contemporary and comfortable with bespoke wooden display stands made for the company with various literature at hand. Behind the reception desk a large window reveals an office space, and stairs beyond lead up to more offices and staff areas.
For clients without any mobility issues, stairs beyond another door lead to the chapels of rest. (These can be accessed by a separate entrance from the car park if clients are in wheelchairs or find stairs difficult.) On one wall adjoining the stairs a butterfly artwork catches your eye, while on the other is an explanation of the interpretation of the meaning of butterflies
There are five chapels of rest, every door has a small metal label holder with the name of the person who is resting in the chapel inscribed in calligraphy on it. And each chapel is named and decorated differently and with a story behind each chapel’s name. The five stories are captured in a painting in the corridor, with a symbol from each included. EVERYTHING has a meaning here, and it gives such a personal touch to what is an intensely personal experience, spending time with someone who has died, perhaps for the last time.
Behind the scenes, the mortuary facilities are state of the art, there is a room with 34 fridges, each with privacy panels so people are laid separately rather than alongside each other. A separate embalming room and a dressing room complete the mortuary area, the dressing room can also be used as a cool room, where those who have died and who have been placed in their coffins can remain while not in the chapel of rest.
Even the coffin showroom has been prepared sensitively – the half coffins on display are much smaller than a real coffin, far more easy to approach and less daunting, while enabling clients to see and touch the type of materials used.
Everything we saw confirmed that this is one of the best appointed funeral homes in the country, and it is run by a team of staff who are just like an extended family. We met quite a few of the staff, including Rhonda Astill, the Funeral Operations Director, who is responsible for overseeing the day to day running of the business and has known the Barsby family since she was 16, and Kevin Draper, Senior Funeral Director, who has been with the company for nearly 20 years. They are both dedicated to the ‘Sellers way’ of doing things. The team is large enough to cover the continuity of care that is so important; the person you meet and make arrangements with will be the person who carries out the funeral, unless holidays or other circumstances dictate – in this instance, the person who will look after you on the day will be introduced to you before the funeral date, so you will recognise them and not be in the hands of a stranger.
There is a team briefing before each and every funeral, everyone involved will know everything about what is planned and what is required of them. If the funeral involves a burial, then the grave will be dressed by G. Seller staff, with the side curtains of the grave covered by their smart branded curtains. They carry their own trestles which are covered with matching covers, and their own lowering straps. Nothing is left to chance, and everything is immaculate.
The same goes for burial of cremated remains, there is a special G. Seller cremated remains interment kit that includes edging and curtaining and a kneeling pad so that clients aren’t just faced with a hole dug in the soil, but a carefully prepared plot.
Over at Newbold Verdon, G. Seller has a small branch which is usually looked after by Hazel Walker, the funeral administrator there. Hazel lives in the village, and knows almost everyone, lots of people drop in to have a chat with her when they’re passing. Hazel’s desk can be seen through the large glass window which stretches from floor to ceiling, and the branch has also recently been refurbished to the same high standards as Hinckley. There is a private area in a small room behind Hazel’s desk where funeral arrangements can be made in private, and this room is also available for families to use while spending time in the chapel of rest. There is a small kitchen at the back, and a space at the rear which can be refrigerated, allowing those residents of Newbold Verdon who have died to be looked after back in their village prior to their funeral service.
Absolute and complete dedication to caring for each family. This informs everything that G. Seller do, they care for each person they are entrusted with as if the people who loved them were standing alongside them all the time. And they care for the families of those who have died in just the same, thoughtful and considerate way.
The company is very much a family concern, and this is reflected in their branding – ‘Our Family Caring For Your Family’. This is exactly what you can expect from them, a seamless attention to all the details involved with arranging a funeral, all for the benefit of the families they serve. The team are closely bonded together too, just as a family would be, and the values that are so important to Joseph are embedded in everything they do and in the way that they work.
Getting everything right. As David Barsby says in the book about the history of the company written by historian Gregory Drozdz; “We are entrusted with helping people carry out one of the last things they will do for a member of their family. That is a big responsibility and you have to get it right…. You can’t go back and put it right later. You have to make sure you do everything you can to make it as close to perfect as possible for the family.”
The company is also hugely invested in the community in which it is rooted, giving back through charity fund raising and sponsorship of local sports club. They have collected books for community libraries and donated clothes for the homeless, and the Newbold Verdon branch is a drop off point for the local Food Bank.
The blend of historical values and forward thinking attention to detail, superb premises, and an unparalleled dedication to service – the family values that are the fundamental underpinnings of this business and which set it apart from any other funeral director in the area.
Everything is of the highest standard; from the moment you step into the reception area at Hinckley you will sense the quality of this company, with the spacious reception area open and welcoming, and framed diploma certificates and photos of the Barsby family featuring on the walls. (If you get a chance, ask about the artwork in the arranging room or on the walls leading to or in the chapels – every single piece has a story behind it and a meaning to it).
The thoughtfulness extends behind the scenes too, with the way that each person brought in the care of G. Seller is treated and the impeccable conditions in which they are looked after until the date of the funeral.
We have never before visited a funeral director who is so adamant that each person they care for must be collected individually – many companies, including larger ones, will send a ‘man with a van’ to a hospital and collect two, three or even four people at the same time. This is abhorrent to Joseph, and he is having none of it. “We are passionate about making sure each family we care for, are looked after as if they are our family. This means we will always convey someone into our care individually.”
Once people are in the care of G. Seller, they are treated with absolute respect. Every person is referred to as Mr. or Mrs or Miss, and they will be bathed and dressed, with hair styled according to recent photographs that the team request. Joseph and the team are big advocates of embalming, and will always discuss this with families as part of the arrangement interview. They believe it is the most respectful way to care for people who have died, but will always require permission to carry it out, and if families prefer not to have it then it doesn’t take place.
- Your first call will be answered during office hours by one of the funeral directing team – Joseph, Rhonda, Kevin, Joe or Kate. If none of these are free then you might speak to one of the trained reception team; Kirri Renton, Sharn College, Nicola Mason, Janina Perry or Hazel Walker. After hours the phones are diverted to one of the team members’ homes on a rota, so it could be any of the above, or you might find yourself speaking to David or Susan Barsby. No matter who answers your call, you will be met by a trained and informed member of the team.
- Home visits? Yes, just ask. Although we would very much recommend visiting the premises if you can. You will learn much about the company you are entrusting with your relative and the premises are fully accessible for anyone with mobility issues.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes
- Embalming? Strongly advocated, but permission will always be sought and the person making arrangements will explain why they consider embalming so important. It’s entirely your choice whether you agree to it.
- Ethnic / cultural specialism? The local community is predominantly Christian or non-religious, so most funerals carried out by G. Seller are of this type. Occasionally they serve families from Sikh or Hindu backgrounds but these funerals are not frequent.
- Local celebrants – They have a carefully chosen list of celebrants that they have interviewed and whose ceremonies have been observed. As you would expect, the Sellers standards are high and they will only suggest celebrants they are confident really care about getting each ceremony absolutely right.
- Vehicles – a black Mercedes Benz fleet which includes two hearses, three limousines and a saloon car. Two conveyance vehicles are each fully equipped to bring those who have died into their care.
- Website – excellent. Lots of information, prices online and explained, photos of everyone you’ll meet and a bit of background about each of them, a good reflection of the calibre of this company.
- Client support – unparalleled throughout your dealing with them. All staff will be fully up to date with your arrangements. Joseph is currently exploring setting up an aftercare programme for families who would like further support after the funeral has taken place.
- Money matters – excellent value for money. There are three options, all fully outlined on the website: a simple cremation, a simple funeral and a bespoke funeral. Details here
- Parking– at Hinckley there is ample parking on the premises – turn off of Upper Bond Street into Well Lane, and then left into Druid Street, the entrance to the car park is immediately on your left. At Newbold Verdon there is parking on the street outside.
You won’t find a better funeral director than G. Seller. They truly are one of the very best family run companies offering traditional funeral services with a modern, intelligent and considered approach to their work.
The company symbol is an anchor, and this is most fitting. On their website they share a quote from local Pastor, Malcolm Lapper;
“Hope can mean different things to different people according to belief. In the ancient world, the symbol of hope was the anchor, it is still a symbol easily recognizable today. An anchor’s chief purpose is to hold firm in dangerous and difficult times of storm. In the greatest storm of all, that of bereavement, and broken dreams, to be without hope is to be without any anchor to hold on to”
G. Seller is an exceptionally good example of how the best of traditional values can be carried through into a fresh, modern approach to funeral directing. Everything about this company is geared towards caring for the families they serve and the community in which they work, and the attention to detail we found in every aspect of their work when we visited was second to none. Huge credit must be given to the three generations of Barsbys, who have crafted the ethos and values that still lie at the heart of G. Seller.
And Joseph is constantly striving to improve – as he says, ‘I want to leave this company even better than it was when I came into it, and hopefully when the 4thgeneration Barsby comes into the business, they will do the same”. At the moment, the 4thgeneration Barsby contents herself with trying on Dad’s top hat for size; Joseph and his wife Amy had their first child Alexa in January 2018, so it Joseph has a good few years to leave his mark before he hands over.
If you are looking for a real family run funeral director founded on the very best of values to provide you with service of the most trustworthy, reliable and valuable kind, you will find everything you need – and more – right here.