Private: Recommended Funeral Directors OLD
Address: Gleadless Mount, Sheffield, S12 2LN and at 363, Halifax Road, Sheffield S6 1AF
John Mallatratt and his close knit team of funeral directors, Stephen Parkin, Gavin Moorby, Liz Greaves and Claire Havenhand.
John founded Peace Funerals with his then wife, Mary, back in 1996. 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 he 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.”
In the very early days, John and Mary worked from their home in Lancashire, hiring facilities from local funeral directors as required, but they soon found the premises at Gleadless Mount in south east Sheffield, where Peace Funerals is still based 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 and Mary are now divorced, and John remains very much involved with the day to day running of the business while Mary has an involvement at board level, helping with new appointments and attending meetings regularly throughout the year. The team at Peace Funerals is now made up of eleven people altogether, with a second premises opening in Halifax Road in North Sheffield two years ago. It has been 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 come across Stephen or Liz who mainly work from there, supported by Lucy and Elaine who look after the administration there. Gordon is also predominantly based there too, he helps out with every aspect of funerals.
At Halifax Road, you're likely to meet Gavin or Claire who are mainly based in this branch, supported by Lisa and Roberta sharing the administrative load, and Mark 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 branch. Everyone is 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 meet every morning, 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 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.” Can meet clients at home “as we want them to feel as relaxed as they can be. But we can meet in our premises when it suits families better.” Will talk about the funeral ceremony with you, start you thinking and share some possibilities so that, by the time you meet your celebrant, you’ll have developed a clearer view of what you want to happen.
Very keen to empower you to find your own way, a distinctive philosophy 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.
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.”
Keen that you should do everything you want, including caring for the body. 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 FD throughout. 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 (2) and 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.