Funeral Directors Category: Yorkshire & The Humber
This is a lovely, modern, family funeral business, created by David Gallagher and his wife Adele when they were both just 24 years old, in 1993.
Today, three decades on, they have been joined in the business by one of their sons, Sam, and alongside the three family members, the small team of colleagues is so closely knit and loyal that it genuinely feels like an extended family working together.
The Gallagher Family funeral home is in Utley, just outside Keighley, in a beautiful, converted barn, on a mid-19th century former working farm. The family live in the farmhouse adjacent to the barn, meaning that the people in their care are never left alone, something that many families find important and reassuring. The solid farm buildings overlook the stunning surrounding countryside, with beautiful views of the Aire Valley, and there is a sense of being rooted in the area and the communities that they serve.
Back at the beginning of his career, David had spent four years working with a large national company, learning every aspect of funeral directing and gaining the Diploma in Funeral Directing. He had seen the opportunity to start his own, independent funeral company in Keighley, and, with support from David’s parents, the young couple opened their funeral home, ‘David Gallagher Funeral Directors & Monumental Masons’ in January 1993.
Their first location was in a commercial property in Keighley, with David and Adele living in the flat above. David’s father John was a huge support in the early years, helping financially as well as practically, and providing sound business advice as the company became established.
Originally, David had seen a need for a local Catholic funeral director in the area; coming from a strong catholic family, he easily filled that role, swiftly establishing a good reputation in the town offering the same level of impeccable service to families from all backgrounds, faiths and beliefs.
As their sons grew up, David and Adele continued to run the business with their team, with David taking the leading funeral director role and Adele closely supporting him. Adele gained her Diploma in 2000, and together they focused on serving the families in Keighley and the surrounding areas. Their focus on personal service and exceptional attention to detail meant that the funeral company thrived and became well established in the town.
Eleven years after opening, in 2004, an opportunity arose to move the business to a much larger premises, at Rose Cottage Farm, in a village just outside the town. Extensive refurbishment was needed to create a purpose-built, modern funeral home in the former barn, but the results were outstanding, achieved with high quality local workmanship. The family have lived in the adjoining farmhouse ever since, seamlessly weaving their work life and home life together to truly offer a family funeral home.
The funeral home is beautiful; attractively furnished and decorated, certificates are displayed on the walls in the entrance area, and a large, modern Chapel of Rest offers seating for up to 40 people for ceremonies.
The Chapel of Rest is also used for families to visit their relative, and they are always invited to bring personal items and music to make the experience a homely and welcoming time.
The spotless mortuary area provides the functional space for the care of people who have died, with climate-controlled refrigeration space. Upstairs, a comfortable arranging room is used by appointment for families to discuss their funeral requirements, and a large open plan office with a huge screen enables all staff to see at a glance exactly which stage any funeral arrangement is at. Around the back of the building the immaculate Mercedes fleet of cars is looked after and garaged, with the plug-in hybrid E-Class Mercedes Polaris hearse taking pride of place – it offers emission free driving of up to 33 miles, easily enabling an emission-free final journey to the local crematorium.
Outside, colourful flowers spill out of containers, and the gardens are beautifully kept – the attention to detail that this company is known doesn’t just stop with the funeral work. When we met them they were just installing a new memorial display area so that clients can see examples of different stones and lettering, another thoughtful and considerate innovation.
While the premises are lovely, it is the people who make any business genuinely good, and what we found with the Gallagher family was a quite extraordinarily modern approach to their work. David and Adele created a solid, successful funeral company through years of hard work and commitment, adapting as they did so to changing client requirements and offering impeccably high standards to every family they work for. It would have been easy to simply continue as they were going, but the couple have allowed their son Sam to bring fresh eyes to the way they work.
Sam grew up in and around the family business, so it was very much part of his life, but originally, he had no plans to be part of it. On leaving Northumbria University, he went travelling with his girlfriend before joining an engineering firm in Skipton, but when a vacancy arose within the funeral business, he decided to join his parents in July 2021.
Starting as a Funeral Operative, Sam successfully underwent an apprenticeship as a Level 2 Funeral Team Member, learning all the time as he worked within the business. He was responsible for the company rebrand which led to a change of name to ‘Gallagher Family Funeral Directors’, with an accompanying complete change of branding, logo and website. He introduced internal changes and streamlined processes and has a keen eye on changes and developments in the world of funerals. Sam is also primarily responsible for the company’s social media presence which is rapidly expanding under his sensitive and thoughtful stewardship.
Sam’s youthful energy, enthusiasm and expertise in other areas complements the wisdom and experience his parents have imbued into the way the company works, and this blend of skills is invigorating – the company feels fresh and young while solidly grounded in the values that have served it so well for decades. It is a compelling combination.
Alongside David, Adele and Sam, the ethos of the company revolves around the small team of people working alongside them. It is their passion and commitment that makes the company the success that it is, and they are fully supported and empowered in everything they do by the family members they work with.
David’s appreciation of structure and training means that all team members have been given comprehensive training in all aspects of their work, providing them with all the tools they need to be excellent in their roles. Team members are empowered to make decisions that best suit the clients they are working with, and they are supported with a solid and positive work culture and strong team ethics. The mental health and wellbeing of all the team is of paramount importance to Sam, David and Adele, and they try hard to ensure that all team members feel valued and appreciated for their work and commitment – reviews, testimonials, thank you cards and gifts are always shared with the whole team
Communication is key in any successful working relationship, and the communication between this small team is superb. There are weekly team talks ever Monday, pre-funeral briefings and comprehensive day sheets containing all relevant information for each funeral. A ‘help-yourself’ coffee machine station is available for all staff to avail themselves of barista-style coffee throughout the day, and a monthly ‘Butty Friday’ is much looked forward to by everyone. As a trained Mental First Aider, Sam is the in-house lead on ensuring everyone has access to quality support in what can be a sometimes extremely challenging – and occasionally very distressing – vocation.
Behind the scenes, a sophisticated software system ensures that all the team are always able to access the latest information about the progress of any funeral arrangements even if they haven’t been personally involved with organising them, and dedicated, climate-controlled facilities mean that the people who have died are cared for in exemplary surroundings.
Families considering choosing Gallaghers Family Funeral Directors are encouraged to come and meet the team if they haven’t met them beforehand, and to visit the premises – the team are happy to show prospective clients around and answer any questions. The company ethos is to always ensure that clients are supported and empowered to make their own, informed choices about what is best for them and for the person who has died.
Each client will be provided with the freedom and flexibility needed for them to create a unique, fitting tribute for their person, whether simple or lavish, traditional or ‘alternative’ – there is never any sense of your having to fit in with this funeral director, it is entirely the other way round.
Prior to the day of the funeral, people who have died are looked after impeccably by the team. Both male and female staff members are available to carry out the personal care involved, and detailed and specific instructions are taken from families by the funeral director looking after them as to what is required. Some families stipulate minimal disturbance or handling of their relative’s body, while others will have more specific expectations, all of which will be carefully carried out exactly as instructed.
Family involvement is welcomed, and the company is rightly proud of the transparency they offer about how they look after the people in their care.
Personal family service, in every sense of the phrase. The Gallagher family have always aimed to offer a personal service to every family they serve, and their values of exceptional levels of care, attention to detail and providing time, empathy and dedication to each client haven’t changed since the first day they opened their doors in 1993.
As the company has grown and evolved with the changing times, responding to the needs of the community around it, the constant ideals on which it was founded have strengthened and deepened. The concept is a simple one, caring for and supporting every family to enable them to achieve exactly the funeral they want and need. The way that Gallagher Family Funeral Directors carry this out is what makes them so special.
There is a strong sense of teamwork underpinning everything that this company does; not just the small team of ten people who work here, but their wider connections with other professionals and members of the community. The work of supporting each family is carried out by a whole group of people, although individual clients may only be fully aware of the one constant person who is their main contact throughout.
The exceptional standards upheld in every aspect of their work support this collegiate approach by the Gallaghers and their team – attention to detail in everything, sensitivity to each family’s circumstances and preferences, superb care for the people who’ve died who are being looked after, the lovely facilities and surroundings of the funeral home and the impeccable presentation and organisation on the day of the funeral all combine for an outstanding service.
Probably what stood out most for us when we met the Gallagher family was their dedication to doing their absolute best, in everything they do. They are thoughtful and supportive employers, investing in their team to enable them to better support their clients and the community they live and work in.
We were also hugely impressed at the grace, wisdom and foresight shown by David and Adele in recognising the additional skills that Sam brings to the business – not every parent would be so willing to stand back and let their son bring significant change to the business they created. Their faith in him was well founded; his input has only enhanced the work that they have put in over the years, and the new-look Gallagher Family Funeral Directors website and brand rightly reflects the modern values and ethos of this lovely small company.
- Your first call will be answered by David, Adele or Sam or one of the other funeral directors (Simon Wheeler, Michelle Garbutt or Paul Wilkinson).
- Home visits: Absolutely, offered as an option on the website
- Family participation: Welcomed
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, both men and women are available to care for the person who has died. If you want a female team member to look after your person, then you will be introduced to either Adele or Michelle who will take note of any specific instructions.
- Embalming: Not carried out as standard. If embalming is required as a legal requirement or due to repatriation or a prolonged delay with the funeral, this will take place offsite at another local independent funeral director premises and the family will be fully informed.
- Ethnic specialism: The company originally was founded on traditional Catholic values to serve a need in the area, but over the last three decades, societal changes have gradually led to increasing numbers of non-religious funeral ceremonies. Today, fewer than half of the funerals carried out by Gallagher Family Funeral Directors are religious ones. The company has looked after families from multiple faiths and cultures over the years.
- Home arranged funerals: Absolutely, this is one of the services offered, with as much or as little support as you need.
- Local celebrants: Excellent relationships with local faith leaders and a carefully curated selection of local male and female Humanist and civil celebrants, all of whom have met and been interviewed by the team before being included on the list. During funeral arrangement meetings, families are asked whether they would like a celebrant suggested for them or whether they would prefer to find one themselves – if the former then advice and guidance is offered as to which individual might be the most suitable for this particular funeral. If the family prefer to find a celebrant themselves then any venue bookings will be put on hold until the chosen celebrant has confirmed their availability.
- Website: Superb website, fresh and modern, easy to navigate and full of information without being overwhelming.
- Client support: Excellent throughout. From initial contact right through the entire period of interaction, including – and beyond -the funeral ceremony. A follow up phone call a few days after the funeral can also involve signposting to the local bereavement support group ‘Love & Loss: Bereavement Support’ if necessary.
- Money matters: Extremely good value for money for the level of service offered. All current funeral prices can be seen on their website here and a fully detailed brochure with all the prices can be downloaded here. Direct cremations are available, either without ceremony or with an option to have a Celebration of Life ceremony at the Chapel of Rest at the funeral home before the unattended cremation takes place – in either case, the cremation takes place locally and is carried out with all the professionalism that an attended ceremony would involve.
- Parking: Plenty of parking at the funeral home.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet the Gallagher family and hear about their story. Everything we had seen and read about them was confirmed when we met, they truly are the nicest people, doing a difficult job impeccably well. Their local reputation for the highest standards is clearly well deserved, with the references we received all mentioning their professionalism, as well as how pleasant they are as individuals.
We were pleased to hear about their consideration for the environment both with the recent addition of the hybrid hearse and with a relationship they have developed with e-Trees, enabling families to offset carbon emissions from their funeral.
The apprenticeship scheme that the company is involved with is paying dividends, the thorough grounding that the Junior Funeral Directors receive over the 2-year development programmes ensures that their on-the-job training is enhanced and underpinned.
Gallagher Family Funeral Directors were chosen to assist with the interment of ashes of the late Captain Sir Tom Moore in the family grave, also providing the bespoke headstone – such a high-profile event was a mark of the regard that this company is rightly held in.
Everything we have seen has impressed us, and we would have no hesitation in recommending Gallagher Family Funeral Directors to anyone looking for a funeral director to help them in the area of Keighley and beyond.
We are delighted to welcome the Gallagher family as our most recent Good Funeral Guide Recommended Funeral Directors.
Any decisions you take on engaging the services of a funeral director should be based on your views and research. You should not rely solely upon the views and opinions offered by us.