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'Unique and privileged position', says SAIF president

A “unique and privileged position” – that’s how the incoming president of SAIF describes the funeral director’s role.

Paul Allcock, who received the chain of office at the association’s AGM in March, says funeral directors have to get close to their clients to do the job properly.

“Because we are involved with people at such a difficult time of their lives, it’s not like any other role,” he says. “We are creating an intimate relationship to guide people in these circumstances.”

And Paul’s sees his new role as helping SAIF member firms do this effectively. He lists his priorities as supporting members and representing their views, championing education and building the reputation of independent funeral directors.

Paul, who launched Norwich-based Allcock Family Funeral Services with his dad – former Norwich City footballer Terry – came to the funeral business by default. He had initially been heading for a football career himself but health issues intervened, so instead, he kicked off his funeral career at Peter Taylor Funeral Services.

“It was one of the few jobs available in Norwich to someone of my age who hadn’t really bothered too much with school,” he admits. “But it obviously all happened for a reason and was meant to be and I have never had any regrets – not even for a second.”

By the age of 23, Paul was manager, but when the company was sold, opted to set up the family business.

At first, Paul and Terry were the only full-time workers, with Paul’s brothers and sister – Mark, Peter, Sharon and Philip – as partners, and part-time office support from Sharon and Paul’s wife Alison. Now, however, the workforce includes Mark, Sharon and Philip (as in-house accountant) full time, with Sharon’s children Natalie and Kurt also on board.

“People often ask us: ‘How on earth do you manage to all work together?’ but we get on famously,” says Paul. “And family is the core strength of our business. It genuinely appeals to local people.”

Paul has chosen mental health charity Mind as his charity of the year and sees this as an important area for SAIF to support members.

“Within the funeral industry we come across difficult situations and an awful lot of funeral directors struggle to cope with this,” he explains. “SAIF’s launch of SAIFSupport counselling service recognises this and provides support but it’s important to acknowledge the wider issue too.”

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