Colin Liddell is the principal – warm, funny and utterly capable, he instantly imparts confidence that you are talking to a man who knows his stuff. Colin has had a working lifetime dealing with the bereaved in one way or another, starting as a mortuary assistant when he was 16 and then working as a coroner’s officer and a family liaison officer during his time in the police force. He gained the Diploma In Funeral Directing (DipFD) back in 1998 and is respected locally by his peers, and nationally by the industry, still holding the accolade as the longest-serving editor of The Journal – the magazine of the British Institute of Funeral Directors (although he resigned his membership some time ago). He is a fellow of the Institute of Civil Funerals, and could be described as well ahead of his time – he bought the domain name funeraldirector.com in 1997, the year before Google went live!
Colin’s company can best be described as boutique. He works from his home office, and meets families either at their homes or in his bright and airy kitchen. Colin personally supervises every aspect of every funeral arrangement and clearly relishes the opportunity to give clients what they want and what they need. This style of working is highly specialist and personal, yet offers outstanding value for money. He sub-contracts storage to funeral directors he approves of, and hires in funeral vehicles as required. If families want to spend time with the person who died Colin uses a chapel of rest in nearby Seaton Delaval.
He has a passion for transparency and de-mystifying and normalizing the subject of death, believing that in doing so people can be encouraged to plan in advance what they want for their funeral. (Pre-planning is something he greatly encourages, believing being armed with information well in advance is by far the best way to empower the public).
In 2003, and again, ahead of the times, Colin organized the first public exhibition of coffins and caskets (in Belsay Hall, Northumberland) where the public was invited to examine and inspect coffins in a very neutral venue.
When not funeral directing he can be found under the bonnet of a classic car or cycling – when he has the time.
A conviction that no two people are alike and no funerals should be. Within Colin’s toolbox is a list of contacts from celebrants of all persuasions, a list of alternative transport and as he puts it, the most important part, an open mind.
He is difficult to categorize as he blends the very traditional (top hat, tail coat) with a more contemporary dress if preferred – whatever his clients wish, he delivers. Colin believes that families are best served by giving them as much information as they need to make an informed choice. His stock cars are Mercedes, he does have access to four pre-1960 Rolls Royce and Bentley cars should the family wish. He also has a modern estate car should a family prefer not to use a traditional hearse.
Colin is hugely proud to be seen as independent and differentiates himself with the personal service he is able to afford his clients. He does not spend time in care homes building up ‘useful contacts,’ nor does he take any commission from those he uses to provide outside services (florists, caterers and the like). He is proud of this, believing that being ethical is an obvious important quality in any business, but vital to those who seek to serve the bereaved.
When engaging Colin’s services it will be clear to the client that they are put first every time, all of the time. You will receive a consistently high standard of excellence in service from someone who has comprehensive knowledge and can handle anything from a direct cremation through to international repatriation anywhere in the world.
His documentation states ‘Every funeral is personally supervised by Colin Liddell’ and he is proud to say it is. He provides a written estimate in advance of order and publishes his prices in a clear format. He is happy to provide a cardboard coffin at cost and has no interest in upselling anything. A great number of his clients are repeat customers with whom he has enjoyed a trading relationship with for many years. He is the go-to undertaker for the local Ghanaian community in Newcastle and beyond, repatriating all over the world if required. If ever there was a case of one size won’t fit all, it is Colin’s approach to work. Every service is unique, just like the person.
Home Visits: Keenly encouraged, also it is a given that people who are grieving can change their minds and he is happy to return and re-visit any arrangements should a family decide upon change.
Embalming: When required, and always in conjunction with the wishes of the family. He is keen to stress that it is not possible should one of the local woodland burial venues be selected.
Continuity of Care: Every aspect is personally supervised, from the administration, to the collection of the deceased, even down to sourcing music and taking it to the crematorium in advance of the service.
Family Participation: as little or as much as you wish. Often families wish to dress, groom and get involved, this can always be accommodated.
Same sex person to wash and dress: If you want it, no problem, just ask.
Ethnic Specialism: A good understanding of the observances of all faith groups.
Local Celebrants: He has a very good relationship with celebrants from all major organizations. He has been involved in training celebrants, so he knows what constitutes a good one.
Home Arranged Funerals: Will provide free advice and will work with you in any way to facilitate your wishes.
Website: funeraldirector.com explains his journey and exactly what he offers. It is clear and informative.
Client Support: He does enjoy a very good relationship with his clients and catching up with them is a great opportunity to ensure all is well. He can link in with other services as required.
Money Matters: With pre-planning the client has a great opportunity to shop around. His prices are cheaper than the major players and on par with the many other independents. Colin is highly qualified and has a tremendous canon of support from other professionals. He is keen to advocate payment upon completion of instructions as this means that the funeral you get is the one you are paying for; he does not build the presumption of non-payment into the costs. There are no “cheaper if paid in full, or by cash” incentives. He has very low overheads and this too keeps him keenly competitive.
Parking: He has a home office with a large drive; the chapel of rest he uses has ample free parking.
Highly-qualified, visionary, with huge experience and likeable to boot. There is a confidence, which the client will feel on the first meeting that this man enjoys delivering the best quality available and does so day-in day out. Testaments on his webpage from his satisfied clients also illustrate the care he invests in each, unique funeral he undertakes.
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.
Thursday 6th July 2017 at 12.13pm
In one of the most distressing times ever experienced, the help and support Colin gave us to arrange our Dads funeral was outstanding. His approach to offering a completely different type of service made such a difference to us and gave us great peace of mind. His care, attention to detail, personal touch and friendliness made a stressful situation much more bearable. We can’t thank you enough Colin and will have no problem with recommending you to others.
Thank you from us all for everything you did, you really are one of lifes rare gems.
Thursday 6th July 2017 at 17.47pm
Thank you Kirsty for taking the time to review my services. I am hugely grateful for this feedback; I was a real pleasure helping your lovely family and I must admit I was amazed at how many people we both knew. It is also gratifying when the grand children are involved in the process and they have a contribution. Thanks again, Colin
Sunday 21st May 2017 at 17.28pm
Colin is a star! Nothing was too much trouble for him when I asked if he would provide back up if needed as I was holding a home funeral for my stepmother. He came to visit us at home and was on the end of the phone for moral support. Colin delivered a coffin for me and drove my stepmother to the crematorium to help us out with transport. He works with great care and instils a wonderful sense of support. I have no hesitation in recommending Colin for anyone needing any level of support or services in the Northumberland region – I have sung his praises to everyone.
Thank you so much for everything. <3
Sunday 21st May 2017 at 20.56pm
Sarah, from the very off you knew exactly what you wanted and you delivered it with warmth, care and panache. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to be able to help out and deliver what little help was needed. It transported the notion of a home funeral to a bright, loving and peaceful event. A wonderful, appropriate goodbye to a unique lady. Thanks for dropping the line – next time you are up here, will see you for a coffee and some cake. Kindest, Colin
Sunday 14th May 2017 at 10.29am
Colin deepest thanks for facilitating the excellent celebration of the life of my brother Paul Gilroy. Your superb service, attention detail and sensitivity to the needs of the family shone through once again as it did on previous occasions for both my Mam, Dad and for Robert Paul’s son.
I would highly recommend you to any family seeking dignified and appropriate service for their loved ones.
Sunday 14th May 2017 at 15.27pm
Thanks David for taking the time to add these kind words. It was a privilege to translate Paul’s very specific wishes into the service we had on Friday. Colin
Thursday 23rd March 2017 at 8:52 am
Colin I wish to thankyou from the bottom of my heart for the excellent arrangements you carried out for Mam’s funeral .
As you know Mam had given her orders on the coffin she wanted and we were a bit sceptical,but you found the dream whicker coffin which is it ok to say looked fabulous and was dressed beautifully representing an elegant lady.
I also wish to thankyou for taking the pain out of organising a funeral by being so professional and well organised whilst being compassionate and caring.
You listened to our wishes and carried out the affairs for us in a sensitive caring manner .
Is it politically correct to say I enjoyed my Mam’s funeral if not so I’m doing so because it clearly was a celebration of her life and not the sadness of her loss.
I have been approached by many friends to say they want a service like Mam’s because they too enjoyed the service too and judged you to be a caring funeral director
Thankyou again for making a sad occasion pass with ease by being an excellent approachable individual who is obviously dedicated to his work
Thursday 23rd March 2017 at 5:00 pm
Thanks so much Hazel; your comments are really appreciated. I understand exactly when you say you enjoyed it and it really was a celebration of your mam’s life. Your musical choice was inspired and helped shape the whole service. It is always gratifying to have the opportunity to translate the exact wishes of a client and I am delighted that you have taken the time to pass on your comments. The Good Funeral Guide is a great resource and does provide empowerment to families looking for suitable funeral directors to support their needs. Once again, thanks for the opportunity.
Sunday 11th December 2016 at 11:55 am
Never having arranged a funeral in my life, not only was I concerned about how to organise one, but even more anxious that whatever eventually took place should appropriately celebrate the life of a dear wife after nearly 49 years of happy marriage.
From the first moment of meeting Colin in my home I felt reassured he would be the right person to fulfil my wife’s and my wishes. He was only too happy to respond to any query about the funeral. Meticulous in his attention to detail, he dealt courteously with all requests for further help in emails, phone calls and visits to our home. Members of my family and friends were impressed by Colin’s understanding of our expressed wishes, the assiduous way he carried them out and the unstinting support he gave at a truly sad time.
Colin gave impartial advice in relation to questions about custom and practice in funeral design and we felt our initial trust in him was justified by the candid and open way he had explained funeral expenses. His professional guidance in all matters reflected his commitment to providing an individually tailored service.
All who had contact with Colin judged him to be honest, sincere and deeply dedicated to serving his grieving clients.
Sunday 11th December 2016 at 1:50 pm
Thank you Ronald. I was a privilege to be able to provide the service that we both felt was exactly right. I am very touched by your kind words and I know looking back over at such a significant event can prove difficult, so your expressions of gratitude are particularly warmly appreciated.
Saturday 27th August 2016 at 2:08 pm
Following the recent death of my husband at the age of 46, I knew that he had wanted something simple but special. I decided on direct cremation, really not because I was looking to cut corners or skimp but absolutely because I wanted not to feel pressured to take the more ‘traditional route’. It just didn’t feel right for us. Colin has been a real help, listening to my wishes and importantly keeping me updated and giving such attention to detail and arrangements that I felt fully supported during the process. Added to this he is a genuinely nice man! Whilst direct cremation may not be for everybody, for myself and my children it has given us the time and space to consider the Celebration of Life we wish to stage in future in my husbands memory. Something of which he would definitely have approved of. Thank you Colin for all your help.
Saturday 27th August 2016 at 2:33 pm
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this lovely piece; I know how difficult things can be and finding the time to put your thoughts down would not have been easy. I freely admit that direct cremation is not for everyone but I am so heartened that it was the perfect route for you and the family. We have both transcended distance and it was so good to meet up to return Richard’s ashes to you. I know the subsequent service will be exactly what you want and when you want it and no-one could ask for more than that. I was honoured to play a small part in what will be the most appropriate celebration and reflection of his life.
Tuesday 10th May 2016 at 9:12 am
May 9th 2016 I would like to say thank you very much for the professionalism and caring way you have dealt with me today when I expressed my interest in arranging a direct cremation for myself when the time comes (which as I’m 54 I hope is a good while off yet) However as one never knows just what is around the corner I would like all my wishes in order to minimise the stress to my Husband and Two Daughters who are very precious to me. Colin you have answered all my queries and put my mind at ease in making my decision and even put it all down in writing for me which I must say is great service. My family now know exactly what my wishes are and my eldest Daughter even expressed she would also like the same when the time comes. Thank you very much Colin
Tuesday 10th May 2016 at 3:20 pm
Thank you Denise. I am so pleased you have taken the time and trouble to comment. As you say, a long time off. The vital thing is that your exact wishes will now be available to your family and they will not need to be making decisions based on what they think your wishes were. Thanks again for entrusting your instructions to my care. Colin