The Rosedale Funeral Homes – there are six locally – are all owned by Anne Beckett-Allen and her husband Simon.
Anne was born into the funeral business, worked for several of the big corporate companies, and now revels in the freedom of independence. One of the highest qualified funeral directors in the country, Anne is a registered member of the British Institute of Funeral Directors and a tutor for the NAFD Diploma in Funeral Directing. She is also a trustee of Nelson’s Journey, a charity that supports bereaved children and young people throughout Norfolk.
She is forward-looking, tuned into the needs and wishes of bereaved people today, and she knows how to make a business tick very happily. She is unusually intelligent, extremely kind and motivated by strong, ethical principles. She thinks very deeply about everything she does, always striving to improve the service her funeral homes offer in terms, both, of range of choice, and also the way they care for both the living and for those who have died. She really is one of the nicest people you could meet, very down-to-earth – and not a bit funereal. Anne does not customarily conduct funerals but is always there for anyone who wants their funeral conducted by a female.
Anne’s husband, Simon, is an electrician by trade and a builder of considerable talent and taste. He has converted all six funeral homes. It is a fine achievement. Five of them are in old buildings, which he has restored with expertise and stunningly good taste. The best description might be ‘contemporary antique’. If John Lewis did funerals, you think, this is how they would do it — but it’s doubtful they’d do it quite so well. All the funeral homes are beautifully furnished and well equipped. Each one has its own grandfather clock, locally made and dating from the 1750s – 1780s, a beautiful, thoughtful addition to each of the premises.
For all that he brings to the business, Simon is not a funeral man, he is an outsider. He takes nothing for granted and constantly questions. Because he sees things from the point of view of the client, his perspective has been invaluable in enabling Rosedale to cater so well for its clients. In recent years Simon has become more deeply involved with providing funerals for local people as a funeral director, conducting funerals for many families in the area. See a short YouTube video featuring Simon here.
Both Anne and Simon are people of great heart. They have three children, support the Friends of Chernobyl and, every summer and Christmas, welcome a child from Belarus into their home. Anne is a keen triathlete and has competed in an Ironman UK. In her spare time she packs shoeboxes for ‘Operation Christmas Child’ and each of the Rosedale Funeral Homes is a drop off point for collecting these from their local communities. Simon is a keen chef and motorcycle enthusiast, he has a pilot’s licence and is presently building an aeroplane in the garage.
Together, these two manage to attract remarkably high-calibre staff, all of whom are rooted in their communities and very much ‘one of us’.
We spent two days visiting all the funeral homes and talking to staff. We looked behind the scenes and assured ourselves that people who have died are cared for here with the greatest care and respect. These are among the most caring funeral homes we have ever seen.
The full time funeral directors at Diss are Richard Green and Christian Fairbrother. Both live in Diss and are well known in the area. Richard has been, variously, bicycle salesman and baker before discovering his true vocation. He plays principal cornet with the Diss Salvation Army band and is a keen sportsman. Christian enjoys jogging, watching football, Formula 1, camping trips as well as spending time relaxing with family and friends. A third funeral director is Derrick Leader. Formerly a full time member of the Rosedale team, Derrick has now officially retired, although he still comes in to conduct funerals for the many families who request him. A fourth member of the team, Nigel ‘Skip’ Skipper mainly works behind the scenes caring for those who have died, but he is also a familiar face conducting local funeral services.
Rosedale House was the first funeral home that Anne and Simon opened, in 2005, when they realised there was a need for an independent funeral director in the area. The beautifully converted, spacious red brick house offers families from Diss and the surrounding areas light, bright and airy premises which are fully equipped to care for their relative. The spacious room used for making funeral arrangements is comfortably furnished with really attractive antique furniture. It is where the Rosedale Bereavement Support Groups meet and it can also be used for small ceremonies if families wish.
Upstairs there is a second arranging room, as well as the admin offices. Outside there is a lovely rose garden where you can sit and arrange the funeral on sunny days. Very nice chapel of rest with a strikingly beautiful infinity candle. There is parking available for clients behind the building.
Formal but not Victorian – because most people hereabouts don’t want the top hat and cane look. They can do that for you if you like, and they will also gladly dress down.
So many families have asked for this that Rosedale now have a non-formal alternative uniform for their staff which enables them to fit in when families prefer to have ‘no black’ at a funeral.
Very nice fleet of cars – Mercedes. Lots of alternatives to the standard hearse – you can see them all on their website.
As a tutor for the NAFD and a licensed BIFD funeral director,Anne places a high emphasis on excellent initial training topped up by continuing professional development. Everyone who works at Rosedale is really good at what they do. They are all, also, very nice people. They think hard about what they do and how they do it. Ideas and suggestions from staff are positively encouraged and many have been adopted by the company as a whole. You are not just another client here – anything but. They gladly give you all the time you need. They listen well and respond intelligently. Above all, they work with you.
Standards of care of those who have died are also extraordinarily high. Staff working in the mortuary don white coats, and when they are attending to the care of dead people, modesty cloths are always used while washing or dressing them. It’s a respectful, personal and humane approach that we were very impressed by.
Anne says: “We can basically offer anything and everything.” The first funeral director in the UK to offer a carbon neutral funeral and a specialist in eco-friendly funerals. Can offer you a range of bereavement resources, including their own bereavement counsellor.
Each branch runs free bereavement support groups, there are three a year in each area for local people, with facilitators trained by the internationally renowned grief specialist Dr. Bill Webster (Rosedale brings him to the area every year so that he can run a training course) and supported by a member of the Rosedale staff. Anyone is welcome to attend a bereavement support group, no matter how long ago they were bereaved, nor which funeral director they used. Watch an introductory video here.
Anne and Simon are also passionate about involving children in the funeral arrangements. Every branch has lots of really good books which explain death to children and help them take in what has happened. Anne does outreach work in local schools, too, and provides baskets of bereavement resources for them. They will give you a book, When We Remember, which is full of really good suggestions for the funeral ceremony.
There are many small things which indicate the thoughtfulness and intelligence that informs this business – too many to list here, but we particularly liked the beautiful coffin tributes we found in one of the back rooms – made of lifelike silk flowers, these are available for families to use when perhaps they may not have the funds to pay for fresh flowers to go on top of the coffin.
First contact: Your call will most likely be answered by Richard, Christian or Lorraine, but it may be answered by a member of staff from a different branch.
Lorraine is the senior administrator for the business. You may well also meet Rachel, Charlene and Kerry from the admin office if you visit the branch.
Home visits: Very happy to come to you to talk over the funeral arrangements.
Embalming: Not unless you ask for it. Rosedale are against all invasive treatments. Should it seem necessary, they will discuss it with you carefully first.
Continuity of care: Whichever funeral director you meet first will be there for you all through, holidays and sickness permitting.
Family participation: If you would like to come in and help wash and dress the person who has died, or do their nails and hair or make up that is absolutely fine. They will give you all the support you need. You could find this very satisfying.
Same-sex person to wash and dress: If this is what you want, that is no problem at all. Just ask.
Ethnic specialism: Very happy to work with all ethnic and faith groups.
Local celebrants: They can put you in touch with a minister of religion, or a non-religious or semi-religious celebrant. All secular celebrants are hand-picked and very good.
Home-arranged funerals: If you would like to care for the person who has died at home, they will offer you all the support and advice you ask for. They have specialist cooling equipment that they will be happy to let you use if needed
Website: The website is excellent. There is a great deal of information and, typical of the human touch you find here, photos of everyone who works there.
Client support: Good range of bereavement resources. An especial strength is the after-care of children.
Money matters: Clear and transparent — you’ll know exactly what you are paying for. If money is a concern, please don’t be afraid to make that clear — they really want to help you. Although based at Diss, Lorraine will help any families with applications for Social Fund Payments. She has also become a self-taught expert at taking on the Department of Work and Pensions and helping families to fight for other bereavement benefits that they may be entitled to, even at times enlisting to the help of the local MP.
Outstandingly well run, highly professional but, top of the list, you’ll find here an exceptional focus on people. Quiet, kind, capable and utterly sincere. Good value for money, too.
Any decisions you take on engaging the services of a funeral director should be based on your views and research. You should not rely solely upon the views and opinions offered by us.