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Funeral Directors Category: Yorkshire & The Humber
If you choose Peace Funerals to help you with a funeral, you will be in the capable hands of John Mallatratt and his close knit team of funeral directors, Stephen Parkin, Gavin Moorby, Liz Greaves, Charlie Marshall, Claire Havenhand and Luke Fair. You will also be choosing one of the pioneers who have been providing choice and transparency in the world of funerals for over quarter of a century.
John and Mary Mallatratt founded Peace Funerals back in 1996, and were in the vanguard of bringing about the changes to the funeral industry that are now being adopted by newer entrants. Neither of them had any previous experience in undertaking, John was a university lecturer and Mary was a former nurse working in social care, but personal experience of arranging funerals for family members made them realise that things could be done in a much better way.
Reflecting on the funerals of 3 members of his family John realised that the funeral directors had taken away from him practically all decisions about the funeral. He says “I thought that there must be a better way of doing things and decided to leave my well paid job to try and set up a funeral service where people were empowered to make funerals personal and where choice and control were in the hands of families. It is a very emotionally rewarding job to do and one which I feel very privileged to carry out.”
Within a very short time of opening, John and Mary found the premises at Gleadless Mount in south east Sheffield, where Peace Funerals still have a base today. The company swiftly gained an outstanding reputation and won a number of awards for extending choice and support to families, including Best Funeral Director in the UK from the Natural Death Centre charity.
John remains involved with the day to day running of the business and now Stephen and Gavin have significant management responsibilities. Mary remains involved at board level, helping with new appointments and attending meetings regularly throughout the year. The team at Peace Funerals is now made up of twelve people altogether, with a second premises in Halifax Road in North Sheffield. Opening a second branch was a great learning curve for the staff, as previously everything had been done under one roof, but they have risen to the challenge of working out of two branches admirably.
At Gleadless Mount you will probably meet Liz or Debra, who mainly work from there, supported by Julie and Jenny who look after the administration. James is also predominantly based at Gleadless too, he helps out with every aspect of funerals.
At Halifax Road, you’re likely to meet Charlie or Claire who are mainly based in this branch, supported by Lisa and Sue, who share the administrative load, and Luke who has a similar role looking after all the practical aspects of funerals.
These are just guidelines though, as the funeral directors and behind the scene staff are interchangeable and can just as easily be found at the other premises. Gavin and Stephen move between both branches all the time, and all of the staff, along with the part time casual bearers are connected on a WhatsApp group, ensuring that communication is quick and inclusive. Everyone is also able to access all the details about individual funerals via their shared internal internet, and on the whole you will be looked after by the person that you first meet throughout, wherever humanly possible. This personal attention is part of the ethos of this very ethical and egalitarian company.
John’s out of death interests include walking, travel, holidays, photography. Diehard Birmingham City Football Club “in spite of the misery they cause me.” He is a former chair of trustees of the Natural Death Centre.
Probably everything you would want a funeral director to be. John and his team are, simply, terrifically nice people, friendly, humane, attentive. Calm. Nothing’s too much trouble, they give you all the space you need to make your decisions at your own pace. They are a small tight-knit team, and share what they’re doing so that, when you ring, whoever answers knows all about you. That’s rare.
Gleadless Mount is a 1960’s parade type shop. Modernly-decorated meeting room inside, simple chapel of rest. Bright environment throughout – white walls, pine doors. It’s very unfunereal and unfussy, just like the company itself. We particularly liked the big modern lamps that provide soft lighting in the meeting rooms and visiting room, and the total lack of barriers – no desks between you and the person helping you with your funeral arrangements.
Halifax Road is a former doctors’ surgery which has been totally refurbished and presents a bright, spacious environment. It is actually enormous, with a great feeling of space and light. There’s a huge reception area furnished with comfortable sofas – large enough for even the biggest family to all feel there was room for them. The meeting rooms are very private and quiet, and the two rooms used for spending time with the person who has died are far enough away from any noise to be able to give you a feeling of complete privacy.
Behind the scenes, there are two large chilled rooms at both premises where people are looked after until the day of the funeral. Peace Funerals are not keen on embalming, preferring to look after people naturally and simply. If you choose a traditional type of coffin, they will fit it and line it as you prefer – they keep rolls of fabric in the red of Sheffield United and the blue of Sheffield Wednesday in stock, as these are frequent choices by clients.
Says John “We hope consumers are going to become progressively more demanding and exert far more control over what happens in the funeral arrangements of a loved one. Far from feeling threatened by this, we look forward to it happening.” Until the pandemic impacted the usual way of working, members of the team would gladly meet clients at home “as we want them to feel as relaxed as they can be.” When we re-visited in 2021, the precautions implemented when Covid-19 first affected our everyday lives meant that home visits were not being carried out, arrangements taking place over video or phone calls, or by appointment at either funeral home.
Whoever you make funeral arrangements with will talk about the funeral ceremony with you, start you thinking and share ideas and possibilities, so that by the time you meet your celebrant, you’ll have developed a clearer view of how you want the funeral ceremony to be.
The Peace Funerals ethos is as it has always been; the team are keen to empower you to find your own way. This distinctive philosophy was developed by both John and his co-director former wife, Mary, whose pioneering work in the early days did so much to shape working practices here.
They will do anything that is legal to help you create a funeral that is personal, appropriate and special, whether traditional or alternative. “We like it when families request something that we’ve not done before or ask for a product that we’ve not used before. Because we are all so different, the combination of things that a family chooses will be unique from one individual to the next.”
The team are keen that you should do everything you want, including caring for the body. They will spend time discussing with you the practicalities “so that we can remove as much fear of the process as possible. For many who choose to get so involved, they find the experience very special and extremely cathartic.” Bring your music, your candles, your essential oils.
- You will see the same person throughout; Gavin, Stephen, Liz, Claire, Charlie and James all conduct funerals, so from the start of the arrangements until the funeral is over you will have the same consistent support.
- Will act as consultant to home funeralists: “we have done this many times.”
- Do not customarily embalm.
- Yes to same sex undertaker to lay out body if you wish.
- Can put you in touch with a range of celebrants.
- Have their own natural burial grounds (a third is opening in October 2021)
- Source their own willow coffins.
- Wide range of funeral transport offered.
- Have designed their own pre-need ethical funeral plan.
- In all respects, astonishingly good value for money.
- Very good website.
No praise too high. Greatly admired by the new generation of funeral directors. You will count yourself lucky to have found them – and you’ll wonder how they do it at that price.
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.