Posted by David Hall
Unlike other Carriage Masters, Vintage Lorry Funerals David Hall’s involvement with a Family doesn’t end at the Crematorium, as he is often involved in writing articles about the Deceased and submitting them to Editors of Trade Magazines.
David is known to a number of Editors and he can write articles in a manner and style specific to each publication and normally these articles are prominently featured. No charge is made for this element of his service because David knows this is a win, win, win situation. Families are delighted to see their Loved One’s memory honoured in such a prestigious magazine, the Editor is pleased as extra copies of the magazine fly off the shelves from W. H. Smiths in the area around the Funeral Directors location and it does Vintage Lorry Funerals no harm in having its contact details at the bottom of the article.
David Hall’s drive to market the business was precipitated not by an approach from a Marketing Company but by a grieving lady from his first funeral in London. After a very large funeral in Croydon Crematorium a lady walked out of the crowd and made a bee-line for David who was rolling up the ratchet straps. This person was not a member of the Family but a grieving lady who had lost her own Father only 3 weeks previously. She explained, ‘My Dad would have loved to have had his final journey on your lorry. Why didn’t I know about your lorry? Why didn’t my Funeral Director tell me about your lorry?’ David was shell-shocked by the vitriolic nature of the approach. The lady then stepped closer and between each word she spoke she poked David in the ribs with her forefinger saying, ‘You need to get out there. You need to get a picture in every Funeral Directors window. Your lorry won’t sell itself!’ Twelve years on David can still feel the bruises in his ribs.
When David was booked for a funeral of a 95 year old, former British Road Services Driver, the Family took up David’s offer to write an article suitable for a Transport Magazine. David felt that Ernest Cackett was unique having a lifespan of 95 years as most men who worked alongside Ernest never reached retirement age. The high mortality rate of Lorry Drivers from the 1950s was caused by poor diets, irregular meals, early starts, late finishes, and working an average week and a half in each week, compared with other types of employment. Ernest put his long life down to not drinking or smoking and keeping fit.
At Wilford Hill Crematorium David was shown some black & white photographs and a number of Family members recounted amazing stories from Ernest’s days on the road. The best one being when Ernest was driving a Leyland Octopus Eight-wheeler, and trailer, accompanied by a Trailer Boy who operated the trailer brakes. When they parked up for the night in the middle of nowhere in the winter of 1949 Ernest told the boy that he could sleep inside the cab and Ernest would sleep under the tarpaulins on the sheet rack, on top of the cab. Early in the morning the boy woke up shivering and rubbed a hole in the condensation on the windscreen to see that 5 inches of snow had fallen overnight. The boy tried to wake Ernest by calling his name a number of times and with a lack of response he was fearful that Ernest had passed away during the night. However, the sheets and the snow on top were flung back, Ernest stood up, stretched and said, ‘Come on lad, we have to get rolling.’
David, with help from Denise Cackett, Ernest’s Daughter-in-Law, wrote an article for Vintage Roadscene, a Kelsey publication that features obituaries in the ‘Scene & Heard’ section near the rear of the magazine. The text was accompanied by two pictures, a 1947 photograph of Ernest in front of his lorry and one from the funeral with Ernest’s coffin on the 1950 Leyland Beaver, taking up over three quarters of a page.
Ernest’s Family said that he used to receive a Retirement Magazine from his former employer, in which obituaries were featured on the back page, however, no one knew the name of the magazine as Ernest’s supply was lost when he went into a Care Home. So David was given the challenge of finding out the name of the magazine and the contact details of the Editor. David is part of Commercial Transport in Preservation (CTP) an organisation of over 400 members throughout Britain who restore vintage vehicles. A regular monthly meeting takes place in Salisbury and there are a number of Road Runs during the year, however, from David’s perspective the most important feature are the contacts he has built up over the years.
Robin Masters operates a Bristol Eight-wheeler in BRS colours in road runs and he helped to provide David with information on the magazine, Making Connections, and the email address of the Editor. In addition on hearing Ernest’s activities sleeping under the stars and the sheets, Robin offered David editorial space in the Handout he was preparing as part of his BRS Liveried Vehicle Road Run. Ernest Cackett’s family was invited to the Road Run and shown vehicles similar to the ones Ernest used to drive. Denise Cacket reported back to David Hall that she and the rest of Ernest’s family had been treated like celebrities once they had introduced themselves to Robin Masters.
Three months after Ernest’s funeral Making Connections prominently featured Ernest’s article with it taking up over half of their Obituary Page, with 7 other obituary articles confined to the other half.
The ability to write articles is another way David can exceed a Family’s expectation of his services and this can lead to very positive referrals.
ED’S NOTE: David writes for us at the beginning of every month, his copy always arriving promptly on the 1st. His delightful reminiscences are a highlight for many readers. Please do not hold back in showing your appreciation.