I've swapped cars for coffins...
As she grasped my hand tightly, tears filled my mum Christine's eyes and I felt myself welling up, too. ‘Take care of your dad,' she said. ‘Of course I will,' I promised.
Eighteen months earlier, Mum, 65, had been diagnosed with mouth cancer. She'd since endured a number of operations, including having her jaw rebuilt. But then it had spread to her pancreas. Now, there was nothing more doctors could do.
‘I just want a simple funeral,' she warned. ‘You know I'd rather the money was left for my grandkids.'
That was Mum all over. She was a no-frills kind of woman.
‘I'll do my best,' I told her.
Sadly, she passed away just three months later.
I took time off from my car dealership job to support my dad Bryan and help him organise the funeral. But when we spoke to the undertakers, I was shocked when we were quoted £3,000.
‘I know Mum wouldn't approve of us spending all that money,'
I grumbled to my wife Shelley. ‘I'm sure I could do it for much cheaper than that.'
‘Why don't you then?' she said. So, instead of leaving it to the undertaker, I booked the cars, made arrangements with the crematorium and picked the coffin myself.
A week later, we said goodbye to Mum at a 45-minute service at the crematorium. It was no different to what the undertakers would have arranged. But it had cost less than half what we'd been quoted. Afterwards, it got me thinking about families who might struggle to cover funeral costs. So, in Mum's memory, I decided to set up my own low-cost undertaking firm.
Cremdirect offered the exact same service as any other undertakers would. The difference was, I didn't aim to make a huge profit. It meant I could offer people a complete package for £1,750, covering everything including doctors and crematorium fees, a hearse and coffin. If customers were accepted for a Government funeral grant, but haven't got the deposit required,I asked them to pay what they could and I made up the difference. Eight months on, Cremdirect has performed hundreds of funerals.
We're expanding and will soon be opening up more offices around the country. My job is now incredibly rewarding and I receive half a dozen cards every week saying thank you for the funerals we've put on.
I'm proud to help people give their loved ones the dignified send-off they deserve. And I know Mum would be proud, too.
• To find out more about Cremdirect, visit www.cremdirect.co.uk.
Mark Roebuck, 44, Romiley, Stockport
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