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Funeral Directors Category: West Midlands
Lee Solomon and Nathan Scully. Lifelong friends who went to the same playgroup and grew up together in the local area. Their mums were best friends, and Lee and Nathan have continued and expanded their second-generation friendship into the business partnership that led to the creation of Lilies.
When they finished their education, Lee and Nathan’s paths went in different directions, Nathan went straight into working in the funeral sector, while Lee worked as a teaching assistant before attaining a degree and moving into business development, but even at the young age of 21, the two of them talked about one day opening a business together.
As Nathan learned every aspect of caring for bereaved people and their relatives who have died, the possibility of opening a funeral home together grew, and in 2015 an opportunity presented itself to establish a new funeral business in their hometown.
It wasn’t easy – the premises in Chester Road needed to be completely refurbished, and Lee had moved to Leeds, but with determination and vision (and generous understanding from the now Mrs Solomon), Lee and Nathan moved into the flat above and oversaw every detail of the reconstruction of the downstairs of the property. Lilies opened in March 2016, and the personal service together with the attention to detail that Lee and Nathan and their small team provide quickly established the new funeral directors in the local community.
Not only was 2016 the year that Lilies opened, but it was also the year when Lee got married, and he is now the father of small twin sons. The family now live within commuting distance of Lilies, making the work life balance much more family friendly. When not working or being immersed in his family, Lee enjoys sport – he cycles, runs and plays football regularly, and takes part in competitive events.
Nathan’s main passion outside of work is rugby, he is an active committee member at Aldridge Rugby Club. His Irish descent and Catholic faith is also important to him, and he is a regular attendee at Mass at his local church.
Together the two make a great team. Nathan spent more than ten years working for one of the large funeral companies and was an avid learner, quickly becoming a skilled and experienced funeral director, while Lee brings a fresh approach to what can be a very traditional and staid sector. Their relative youth (they are in their early 30’s) means that they look at funerals with a modern approach – in fact this is how they describe Lilies, ‘a modern funeral director with traditional values’.
The other members of the Lilies team are Calum Horrocks, who is the funeral arranger, and Dean Turner, who works behind the scenes as the funeral officer. Other team members are brought in to assist as required, with Lee and Nathan taking the lead on everything.
If you visit the premises in Sutton Coldfield you will be pleasantly surprised, it’s not at all like the usual somber undertaker premises. The outside paintwork is a smart grey, with large windows that spill light into the open reception area where you will usually find Calum sitting at his desk. Large comfortable armchairs mean that anyone just calling in can sit and chat, while to the left of the door is a private room where funeral arrangements can be made seated around a large table.
There is a second arrangement room with less formal layout, and a tasteful chapel of rest decorated in neutral pastel colours with more comfortable seating. A fully accessible spacious toilet is along the corridor and a small room contains the huge printer used for producing orders of service for clients, saving the cost and time involved in using an external printing company. “It also means that we can be completely responsive to our families,” said Lee, “If they need to make changes to their order of service the night before the funeral we can do that for them without any problem at all.”
The mortuary area is kept beautifully by Dean, who has a small workstation here. Dean is in charge of the care of the people looked after at Lilies, and he shares Nathan and Lee’s absolute determination to provide the best possible service to each person and their family. Lilies’ mortuary has refrigerated space to care for up to 18 people at any one time. At the rear of the premises is the area where the company vehicles are kept, looked after with pride and dedication by Dean.
It’s the blending of the traditional and the modern which makes Lilies special. From meeting with Lee and talking about the company values, it’s clear that the two partners in the business share a determination to provide the absolute best level of service for all of their clients.
This is reflected throughout their work, from the thought that has gone into the layout, décor and furnishing of the premises to ensure clients feel comfortable while they spend time there, to the behind-the-scenes provision of immaculate refrigeration and mortuary facilities where those who have died are cared for. Their reviews and testimonies on Google are all five-star reviews, with clients constantly referencing how the pair had gone the extra mile, how nothing is too much trouble, and their compassion and professionalism.
Providing all clients with the best possible service at as affordable a price as possible. Being able to offer as much support as every family need and going above and beyond to ensure that any worries or concerns are taken care of.
Lee told us about one instance where a client needed their family member cared for and cremated and their ashes repatriated back to their home country, and during the arrangement interview they mentioned that there were belongings that needed to be returned home as well. Lee offered to go and collect them and organised the postage on the family’s behalf. It involved a round trip of over 350 miles and a significant amount of Lee’s personal time, but he was happy to do this to ensure the family concerned had one less thing to worry about.
Lilies also is deeply connected with the local community, it is a drop off point for food collections for the local food banks.
There’s a freshness about Lilies Funeral Directors that is really noticeable. It may be a result of the unique combination of skills that Nathan and Lee bring to their business, or it may be because they know each other so well and have that lifelong friendship underpinning their business partnership. It may simply be that they are two young men with a 21st century approach to funerals while retaining the respectful traditional ways. Either way, the popularity of Lee and Nathan among fellow funeral directors and others working in the sector is testament to their genuine niceness. They will help anyone, even new entrants opening a funeral home fairly nearby. They are perfectly suited to doing this work, which demands empathy and compassion and kindness above all else.
- Your first call will be answered by Calum, Lee or Nathan. If the person has died at home then it will be either Calum and Dean who come to collect them if it is outside office hours, during office hours it will be Dean and either Nathan or Lee. This is a small, tight knit team and you will get personal service throughout.
- Home visits? – Yes of course. Or they will meet you elsewhere if that’s preferable. While the rate of Covid transmission was high in 2020, a client preferred to meet in a local park as they had an at risk family member at home and they didn’t want to come to the funeral home – this was no problem at all.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, just ask. Lilies have a female part time staff member they can bring in if required.
- Embalming? Not usually. They will recommend embalming if there is to be a long delay between the death and the funeral, and if a family requests it then of course it can be arranged, but it is not done routinely.
- Ethnic / cultural specialism? Lilies work with clients from all ethnical and cultural backgrounds and can accommodate any specific needs.
- Local celebrants – Lee and Nathan sit in on ceremonies to get the feeling of the celebrant involved. They also get feedback from clients after the funeral has taken place, and as a result have a good idea of which celebrant to suggest to each family.
- Vehicles – Smart new Jaguar hearse and limousine
- Website – Nice website. Lots of video clips so you can see and hear Lee talking about aspects of Lilies.
- Client support – Very good. Following the funeral they make contact to make sure everything went well for each family and to talk about anything else that might need doing – plans for what to do with the ashes if it was a cremation, for instance. They also hold memorial events for families, with a virtual one replacing a physical gathering when Covid-19 made this impossible.
- Money matters – One of the most affordable funeral services in the area. At the time of writing, Lilies are proud to state that they have never increased their prices as they approach their fifth year in business. Clear, transparent pricing is shown on their website. They offer four different ‘package’ options, a direct cremation service, a simple funeral, a traditional funeral and a horse-drawn and doves funeral, as well as the option to have a bespoke funeral that may be more suited to individual wishes. Everything that is included or not included in the package options is clearly laid out.
- Parking – free parking on the street outside the funeral home.
Lee and Nathan are clearly committed to their work and to supporting every family who chooses to use their services to the best of their ability. Their enthusiasm is matched by their professionalism in carrying out their work, and they have created a gem of a funeral business, which shines brightly in the normally gloomy and dim world of funeral directing.
It’s obvious that being able to help families create the best possible funeral for their relative is deeply fulfilling to all of the team at Lilies, and it is this dedication that comes over so strongly when you meet them. We are delighted to be adding Lilies to our list of Recommended Funeral Directors.