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HELLO 2021 & GOODBYE 2020!

By Rebecca Hillier, Funeral Director/ Office Manager of Swindon's well known Hillier Funeral Service which is a family run and independent funeral directors.

As the year starts to turn – how are you feeling about 2021? 

I feel quite hopeful that a vaccine will start to be distributed and this will lead to a change in the funeral restrictions. 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and it has been especially difficult for anyone who has lost a loved one. The current restrictions only allow up to 30 people to attend a funeral service and during the first lockdown this was as a little as ten people. I remain optimistic that this figure may change in the new year and we may regain a sense of normality. 

What are your business goals for the coming year? 

As a business which has been operating since 1923, we have had to adapt to the changing needs of our clients. We constantly strive to improve the service we provide. We will also continue to change by investigating new technologies. 

This year we have introduced webcasting for burial and church services and using zoom for funeral arrangements where necessary. 

Will you be looking to employ any new staff during the new year? 

Our staff tend to stay with us for a long time and it’s rare that we have new vacancies, however we are looking to employ a funeral administrator/ assistant to join our team and work between our three branches. 

Will you be looking for any new local suppliers in 2021? 

We are always looking for new products and we do try to source these locally where possible. We already work closely with a local business which provides memorial jewellery. 

Are you looking to invest in yourself as a business owner or company director in 2021 in any way? 

We are committed to staff training and continued professional development. We are a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors and The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, I regularly attend meetings and webinars sharing best practice and new ideas with other funeral directors. 

Looking back across 2020 – name three highlights for you and your business? 

1. We have an amazing team of staff and the resilience this year the team whilst dealing with Covid has been exceptional. Whilst working within the current restrictions we have maintained a high level of customer service and have continued our bereavement care service remotely as we were unable to meet with families face to face. 

2. At the beginning of 2020 we launched a new website including a section for 'in memory' pages where families can make donations, leave messages and add pictures. We’ve tried to include as many products, services, pricing and information online as possible. The website has helped enormously whilst making funeral arrangements over the phone and via Zoom. 

3. As a business we have put every precaution in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff members and the families we help. This has included putting privacy screens in our fleet of limousines and arrangement rooms. Also have hand sanitiser, masks, track and trace and QR codes in place at all our branches. 

Looking back across 2020 – were there any lowlights? 

2020 has been extremely challenging for families who have sadly lost a loved one, with the restrictions passed on by the government, it has meant that families have been unable to say goodbye in the way they would have wanted to. It’s been important for us to support these families and keep them up to date with any changes as and when they happen. 

We have had to come up with innovative ways for example mourners paying their respects by pausing at the roadside as the funeral procession passes and watching the services remotely. 

Who, in your business community – have been the shining stars of 2020? 

We would just like to say a massive thank you to all the medical staff, carers, ministers, churches, crematorium/ cemetery staff and our suppliers for their help and support this year as we have all supported families who have lost a loved one. 

Any special offers for 2021 you’d like to mention? 

We work with Ecclesiastical Planning Services who provide our funeral plans for families who wish to make provision for their funerals. They are currently offering a ‘refer a friend’ £25 Marks and Spencer’s voucher.

And finally:

This year we were unable to hold our annual service of remembrance which is usually held in the autumn at Christ Church in Swindon. As this is an important part of our yearly calendar, we felt we still needed to do something to mark the occasion. So, we have created a virtual service with a memorial wall to include memories of loved ones. 

As we unable to invite families into our branches this year to leave a memorial message on our Christmas trees we have also created a virtual tree on our website. 

If anyone would like a message to appear on our website, they can e-mail us on [email protected].

For more information visit www.hillierfuneralservice.co.uk

Hillier Funeral Service

Hillier Funeral Service

Hillier Funeral Service has been providing funeral care to the families of Swindon and the surrounding areas for four generations.

Kingshill House, Kent Road, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 4NH

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

6 Gold View, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN5 8GZ

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy
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