Most boys at a young age dream of being a footballer, a rock star, a pilot or maybe even an astronaut when they grow up.
But not so Alan Winfield. All he ever wanted to be was an undertaker!
And now he has been rewarded for spending 20 years as a funeral director with Kimberley and Eastwood-based firm, Gillotts, who have presented him with a long-service certificate.
“I had two uncles who worked in the industry, and I wanted to be an undertaker ever since I was a small child,” said 59-year-old Alan, who lives in Derby.
“When I told my career adviser at school, he looked at me gone out! My dad got me an apprenticeship at a signwriter’s, but I was made redundant. And then I w worked in a factory for three or four years, which I hated.”
Eventually, Alan’s unhappiness at work led to him ringing a funeral director’s in Derby to ask if they had any jobs. They invited him for an interview the next morning, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Eighteen years after arranging his first funeral, Alan joined Gillotts in 1997. Now, he oversees funerals at the firm’s main office on Main Street, Kimberley, as well as its sister branch in Stapleford, and is marking two decades of service.
Alan has made the arrangements for thousands of funerals in his time, but still gets the same immense satisfaction from his work. “The most gratifying aspect of the job is sitting down with a family when they’re at their lowest and helping them work through the arrangements,” said Alan, who is a chaplain for Derby Mountain Rescue in his spare time. “It’s a unique role that’s more of a way of life than a job, and I find it all extremely rewarding.”
During Alan’s career, the dark image of funerals has changed, which he attributes to the ‘watershed’ death of Princess Diana 20 years ago. “That made people realise there was nothing wrong with showing emotion in public,” he said. “Now people use funerals to celebrate the lives of loved ones, rather than just mourn their passing.”
Alan’s certificate was presented by Gillotts partner Joanne Hutsby, who paid tribute by saying: “Alan has become a familiar face in the community. He has earned people’s respect and trust.”