A FIRM of funeral directors has celebrated expanding its premises and services by inviting people to look around its funeral home ‘before they have to.'

Saint and Forster Funeral Directors, of Darlington, has opened a new arranging room, resource centre and chapel.

Owners and directors Keith Munt and Jenny Uzzell have converted a former hair salon in the neighbouring premises to expand their growing undertakers, bereavement and advisory service.

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Mr Munt said: “If they have any questions about anything to do with a funeral they can come in and have a chat with us,” he said. “We are establishing a resource that offers information about the different kinds of funeral that are available, including traditional, green, humanist or anything that the family might wish for. We also offer advice on the costs of funerals and where to get help with the fees.”

A room bedecked with comfortable sofas, pouffes and coffee tables will be used as an arranging room where the bereaved family and friends can discuss funeral arrangements in an informal, comfortable and relaxing environment very much like in their own home.

“We want clients to feel that they are in someone’s home, rather than an office,” he added.“The main thing is that the spaces are multi-functional. They can be used for private conversations or can be open plan. The premises also offer disabled access and toilet facilities, and tea and coffee-making.”

The firm was presented with a surprise President’s Award for Excellence in Bereavement Care for its work by the Rev George Callander, President of the Society of Bereavement Practitioners, who described Saint and Forster as “the best funeral directors I have ever had the privilege of working with anywhere in the United Kingdom”.

He congratulated the owners on their genuine and caring approach to dealing with bereaved people.

Charles Cowling, author of the Good Funeral Guide, was also present. He said: “I’ve been around a bit and I know this business. How exceptional are Saint and Forster? Very, underlined. And I’m speaking with understatement.

“Keith and Jenny understand that the future is all about partnering with their clients, working with them to interpret their needs and wishes and enabling them to create memorable, meaningful funerals. To do so calls for huge hearts, vast emotional intelligence, inexhaustible kindness and all the time in the world.”