Xina Gooding Broderick BA(Hons), DipFAA, LMBIFD and her husband Peter Broderick DipFAA, LMBIFD are the two of the three directors of this family run company that you’ll be most likely to meet, as it is they who look after the day to day operations and the families they serve. Xina’s sister, Gay Gooding Kershaw is the third director; she’s not based in the Newton Road premises but manages the marketing, content, social media and administration remotely, checking in daily by Skype.
Together, the three are continuing the inspirational work of Xina and Gay’s dynamic father, Hugh Gooding, affectionately known to everyone as Hughie. He lived in Leeds all his life since arriving in the UK, and was well known and much loved by everyone, a trail blazer with extraordinary entrepreneurial skills that led to a career that encompassed hydraulic engineering, working as a specialist fitter, owning haberdashery stalls and playing as a bass guitarist in a local band, making friends throughout his life with everyone he met.
An unusual background for an undertaker, one might think, but it seems that his whole life was a preparation for the final calling which came gradually to Hughie when first his father died in 1993, and then his mother followed in 1998. Unhappy and upset with the way his father’s funeral was handled, and experiencing the same feelings when his mother died, Hughie felt he could have done things better himself.
When he realised that others felt the same, he decided to learn how to be a funeral director. Undaunted by the fact he was working full time as an engineer – and also studying for a business degree – he started working for a local funeral director assisting with night time collections of people who had died, and in 2007 he opened his own company, Hugh Gooding Funeral Services Ltd in premises that had once been a doctor’s surgery in Newton Road.
From the beginning, Hughie brought a breath of fresh air to the traditionally somber and dingy world of funeral directing. He was determined to be open and transparent, and to devote himself to serving families, always placing the family and the person who had died at the centre of his care, and this dedication, together with his warmth and kindness, meant that his funeral company survived the difficult early years and became a respected and established firm that local people trusted.
Hughie mainly worked alone, keeping overheads low and just bringing in a local lady to answer the phones when he was out, but as time went on he needed an extra pair or hands now and again, and his son in law, Peter, worked as a youth worker next door to the funeral premises, so he was an obvious person to call on. “I got used to Hughie calling me to ask me to come in ‘just for a couple of minutes to give me a hand’, Peter recalls with a smile. “Always in my lunch break!” A trained chef, and happy in his second career in social work, Peter didn’t have an interest in undertaking at that time, but was happy to help as needed, and when he was made redundant in 2011, he ended up working with Hughie answering phone calls and arranging funerals, and found that he loved the role.
The following year, Hughie began to feel tired and unwell. His family persuaded him to go to see a doctor, and shockingly he was swiftly diagnosed with gall bladder cancer and told that it was untreatable. Less than two months later, on July 29th 2012, Hughie Gooding died, leaving his family bereft, and his business in danger of closure. Before he died, he asked Xina to carry on in his place, and, at a time of great personal grief and turmoil, the decision was made to continue his legacy. The first funeral that Xina ever conducted was for her father. Over a thousand people attended to pay their respects to the man who had been such an influence to so many.
Hughie’s shoes are huge ones to fill, but his two daughters and his son in law are a credit to a man whose spirit imbues the company he created. His values, his determination and his dedication to serving the community where he lived his life have been inherited and consciously preserved by his family, and the pride with which they speak about him is tangible. Xina and Gay have Hughie’s vibrancy and warmth and a knack of instantly making you feel at ease, and the lovely Peter exudes a solid, steady feeling of comfort and reassurance with his presence. Together they are continuing the work that Hughie started, and adding to it in their own individual ways.
The premises in Newton Road are bright and modern, with a fresh new look since the decision to change the company name slightly (to prevent confusion with another business in the area). Gone are the old cream and burgundy colours, the colour scheme has been changed to an attractive blue branding and the furnishings are contemporary and calming. The huge windows spill light into the reception area where a column fish tank with fan tailed goldfish is a feature. Behind the sofas, a low-level display of eye-catching colourful memorial items in the window attracts passers-by to look in, and frequently wave to any of the staff inside. Hughie was renowned for acknowledging the many hundreds of people he knew with a wave as they went by, and this tradition continues – unless of course a bereaved family are present.
Beyond the reception area, the chapel of rest is a quiet room towards the rear – simply decorated and with daylight from a square window recently installed in a formerly dark room. Doors lead off of a corridor to an accessible toilet and a small kitchenette, and to the room used for funeral arranging where Peter has a desk.
Xina and Peter are assisted by other funeral directors, Sanjaye and Jane, and Jane is also a celebrant. Sanjaye is learning how to embalm, and everyone at Gooding’s is fully competent in every aspect of organising a funeral. You are in the hands of experts here, and they take their work very seriously, training and gaining qualifications is an important aspect of what they do.
Xina is an Executive Member of the NAFD (Yorkshire region) Co-Chair Person for Leeds Bereavement Forum and a Steering Committee Member for Dying Matters Leeds. She is a recognised public speaker and a member of the Professional Speaking Association, a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and a regular contributor on local BBC radio. In her spare time, she also manages to look after her young family, enjoys walking and running and is a committed Vegan, enjoying Vegan cooking.
Peter enjoys volunteering as a basketball coach, he has done so for over 25 years. He also gives his time to various voluntary organisations in chairman and management roles, and he loves cycling.
Gay enjoys fine and contemporary art and is passionate about her local community and local history. A keen walker and long distance runner, Gay is also a volunteer with her synagogue’s Cheverah Kadisha burial group.
Absolute transparency and total dedication to caring for each family and each person in their care. This work is a vocation to the family, not a means of making a fortune, and the commitment to serving other families is tangible.
There are no secrets or hidden places here, anyone can ask to see the mortuary and whereabouts their relative will be looked after and this will be arranged, and everything will be explained so that there are no unanswered questions. Prices are clearly explained on their website, along with lots of helpful information and guidance.
The core values of Gooding Funeral Services are those set out by Hughie in his life and his example; treating everyone with empathy and compassion, presenting options without obligation, offering impeccable attention to detail, being open, honest, dependable and reliable and upholding the highest ethical standards. There is a sense of duty here, and an awareness of the privilege of caring for those who have died and the responsibility this carries, and a feeling of contributing to the greater good of society by serving those who are bereaved in the best possible way.
Intelligent, self-aware, emotionally mature and completely dedicated, these are funeral directors of the future. They are constantly seeking to improve the service that they provide, and to honour the late, great Hugh Gooding’s memory by making the business that he began a success. Their dedication is evident, their hard work and continual striving to serve each family in the best possible way is equally so, and the 5 star Google reviews left regularly by clients indicate that the people of Leeds appreciate just how good this company is.
This is a business that was created out of Hugh Gooding’s determination to improve the services that were then available. His two daughters and son-in -law have picked up where Hughie had to let go, and they continue to strive to be the best funeral professionals possible, serving every family that chooses to engage them to the best of their abilities.
This is an example of a family uniting in their grief to continue the work, to keep the business open, to keep improving the service they offer to the community around them in honour of the memory of the man who inspired them.
Hugh Gooding was a pioneer and an inspiration, a hard-working man with a huge heart. From meeting his family and seeing how they continue his work with such diligence and devotion, it is clear that he taught them well. His legacy is immeasurable.