Funeral Directors Category: London
Nick and Jacqui Taimitarha, a husband and wife team with a completely fresh new approach to funeral directing.
The couple both come from backgrounds in events and marketing, formerly working with independent businesses to help them reach the public and improve their profiles, both online and in the real world. They were very good at this, and it was during this time that the dusty world of funeral directing caught their attention asking themselves why they had to all look so dark, Victorian and unappealing, and realising the majority were in fact no longer independent but owned by a corporate.
As is so often the case when creative people first encounter the traditional world of funerals, they had an experience that left them feeling profoundly unhappy with what they describe as ‘a bad funeral’. When a close friend died, their funeral was impersonal and formulaic – there was no sense of the person whose life had ended, and this left both Jacqui and Nick feeling let down. The death of a beloved parent some time later put them into the position of having to arrange a funeral themselves, and they both felt instinctively that neither a traditional style funeral nor a direct cremation would be the right thing for them.
After frustrating conversations with funeral directors that didn’t want to deviate from a full service funeral the couple took control and organised things themselves, holding a private, intimate cremation service, with just a few family members attending which was followed by a beautiful memorial service a little while later – the perfect and fitting solution which worked for them and their families and friends, but something that happened because they knew what they didn’t want, and were able to ensure that the funeral took the shape that was right for them.
As a result of their experience, they began looking into the sector, and the more they understood about how it operated, the more they began to feel that this was something that could benefit from a lot of improvement in approach, customer service and image – all things that they knew a great deal about. They also recognised just how important and rewarding it could be to be involved so closely with clients who may be going through one of the most difficult experiences of their lives, and this sense of purpose and importance had a magnetic attraction for both of them.
As they researched the hitherto unexamined sector, amidst the many traditional FDs they found, Nick and Jacqui began to come across one or two shining examples of people approaching funerals differently – modern progressive companies like A Natural Undertaking and Poetic Endings. They were delighted and inspired to find that others felt just as they did, and they set about making contact with some of these people and exploring the world of alternative funeral directing.
The more they learned, the more it became apparent that opening their own funeral business with a modern approach was exactly the right thing to do. Although it was a big risk to completely change direction in middle life, both Jacqui and Nick knew that this was something meaningful and important, and they set about finding ways of making it happen.
The practical aspect of opening a funeral business dictates that premises are required – people who have died need to be looked after somewhere, and people needing to make funeral arrangements have become used to going to a high street premises to do so. For many new funeral companies, the huge overheads of finding a home for the business are a major barrier to entry, and an ongoing concern while they try to become established against other familiar names in the area. In the area of South East London where Nick and Jacqui live by the Thames, property prices are sky high, so the thought of finding somewhere suitable and affordable was a challenge.
Undaunted, Nick and Jacqui found a way round this. They found a local independent funeral director who would be willing to allow them to use their facilities to care for people who have died, and overcame the problem of a high street presence by basing the White Rose office in a bright, beautifully designed co-working space in Causeway House in Teddington.
“We did wonder how families would respond visiting us, as we are not a traditional high street shop,” said Nick, “Everyone who has come here has expressed relief that the environment is restful and normal. We figure that when people visit our website, they will already see that our style will be different, and that is what they want.”
Clients who need to make arrangements for a funeral can either meet Nick and Jacqui by appointment at their private office, or they will happily come to you at your home. (If you want to meet with them at Causeway House, do ring them first to make sure they are there – with just the two of them involved with White Rose, it is very likely that they’ll be out and about, and the last thing they would want is for someone to be sitting waiting for them while they battle back through the London traffic.)
White Rose Modern Funerals is now well established in an area of London where large corporate companies operate almost all of the funeral businesses, often masked by old local names. Local FDs have become used to seeing them supporting families at crematoria, standing out from the array of black suited undertakers in their smart and stylish navy or grey attire – at funerals Nick wears a smart suit while Jacqui will be in a stylish coat dress, while for their ‘No Fuss’ family led ceremonies, they wear less formal, smart dark trousers and grey branded jackets.
The couple aren’t afraid to admit that until quite recently they were ‘funeral virgins’, but they have immersed themselves into learning how the funeral world operates, asking questions and making friends as they go, and constantly gathering knowledge and understanding. They have good connections with other, more traditional funeral directors, and work closely with a nearby company, sharing their excellent mortuary and facilities.
As you would probably expect given Jacqui and Nick’s backgrounds, the look and feel of this business reflects their values and ethos completely. They have a simple, straightforward approach to what they do, but everything is carefully thought through, and has purpose and meaning – and the whole thing looks exceptionally good.
Their attention to detail is extraordinary, and by arriving in the world of funerals with an understanding of the importance of how little things really matter, they have been able to add in elements to their service that make a huge difference.
As an example of this, typically they will enlarge a photograph of the person who has died and display it at the funeral ceremony with a candle alongside it. If there is a reception after the funeral, they will travel on to the venue and set up a memorial table there with the picture and candle and the casket spray, creating a focal point for the gathering, and also ensuring that friends and family have a chance to appreciate the flowers.
They also provide garden twine, so guests can create small posies from the main display to take home with them – so much better than the flowers wilting unseen on the ‘floral terrace’ of the crematorium. And the close family have a special candle to take away with them, one which is indelibly connected to the person whose coffin it flickered alongside during their funeral ceremony.
Simple and meaningful – this personal approach isn’t costly in monetary terms, but it demonstrates the understanding Nick and Jacqui have of how important thoughtfulness is and how you don’t need to spend a huge amount to make a funeral special. It has been hugely appreciated by the many families who have found their way to White Rose.
Personal service – with this small company, you will deal with Nick and Jacqui throughout, and you can be certain that while they are looking after someone for you and helping you create the funeral that works for you, they will be focusing all their efforts on making sure you are given their complete attention.
Communication is everything, and this is what Nick and Jacqui do so well – they are personable and friendly, and they make use of all means of communication to ensure that every client is kept completely informed – phone calls, e-mails summarising any meetings of changes, and family WhatsApp groups to keep everyone connected to the funeral up to date with the arrangements.
What’s also important is taking off the pressure – by choosing White Rose, you will find yourself at a simplified starting point, with clear, straightforward and transparent information and supportive, friendly people to help guide you. It’s then up to you just how much help you need to shape the funeral that works for you. Nick and Jacqui feel strongly about minimising unnecessary costs, all your options will be clearly explained whether your preference is for a low-key funeral with no fuss or for an occasion that requires a lot more ideas and detail. With this company, it’s not about the amount of money you’re spending, it’s about making sure the funeral you have is the one that works for you.
A completely person-centred approach to funerals. Everything about White Rose Modern Funerals starts with you, the client. They work for you and with you, and will be as supportive and involved as you need them to be. When they meet a family, their approach is to start each time with a blank sheet of paper, and no assumptions, and they will help you explore what you want the funeral ceremony to look and feel like. They can offer lots of suggestions to help you shape the funeral that will work for you, and they have a very creative approach – they’ll be able to offer lots of ideas and suggestions, if that is what you need.
Their prices are clearly displayed on their website, starting from the bottom up so that you know straight away what the base starting price is and the essentials included, and you can then add in or change various alternatives to suit your family and your budget. For many families this straightforward uncomplicated way of indicating costs is exactly what they need. For others who might want to choose a different means of transport or a different coffin, for example, all options or alternatives are clearly priced individually, ensuring complete transparency.
- Your first call will be answered by Jacqui or Nick. And it will be Jacqui and Nick who will come and collect the person who has died and take them back to the mortuary they share in
- Home visits? Unless you want an appointment at Causeway House or somewhere else that is convenient for you, they’ll meet you wherever suits you.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Both Nick and Jacqui would usually be involved in looking after the people in their care, but if it’s important to you that only people from the same sex do this then either of them can get assistance as required.
- Embalming? Not something that Nick and Jacqui agree with in most cases – they question why it is routinely done by so many funeral directors.
- Ethnic / cultural specialism? No specialism per se, but absolutely happy to work with families from any ethnic or cultural background.
- Local celebrants? Nick and Jacqui have built up a team of around ten officiants that they are completely trust in, and they will make suggestions after listening to you carefully. They always sit in on ceremonies.
- Vehicles– secondary in importance to the ceremony, although clean, smart and reliable. White Rose have access to a Daimler hearse or a Ford Galaxy, or can arrange any alternative vehicle that clients prefer from external suppliers.
- Website – lovely website. Lots of information if you want it, but not presented in an overwhelming way, easy to navigate and fully transparent, with prices laid out clearly.
- Client support First class throughout all the time from first contact with either Nick and Jacqui through to their bringing you the ashes of the person who has died if the funeral was a cremation. In the future, the couple are working on plans to help connect people who have been bereaved, and they are looking at ways of doing this in their local community.
- Money matters – Superb value for the personal service you receive. For their current prices click herefor White Rose cremation costs, and herefor their burial costs
- Parking If you arrange to meet Nick and Jacqui at The Causeway, you’ll need to find parking locally, on street parking is available all around, and information about car parks can be found
This is how a modern funeral director in the 21stcentury looks.
They’ve kept their overheads low, their terminology simple, their approach centred around the needs of someone who has just been bereaved, and their prices transparent and fair.
Their service is entirely personal, calm, straightforward and kind, and they have introduced a creative, fresh new way of supporting families to arrange funerals.
If you want a traditional style funeral then they can do this for you without a problem, and at a fair and reasonable price. If you want no fuss at all, then they will look after the person who has died equally as well as any other person in their care, and you will have as much support as you need. Or if you want to create an entirely personal ceremony to acknowledge the ending of a life of someone you love, then Nick and Jacqui are just the kind of people who you’d want to have helping you.