Meet the Team: Front of House

Should you call us or come by to visit our branches, you will more than likely be greeted by one of our front-of-house team. Each of them bring their own talents to their role, but one thing they share is compassion and care for people - a real desire to understand them and make them feel heard. Not usually at the forefront of ceremonies, but being just as important to our work as any other team member, we decided to sit down and ask them about their role at Towners.



Samantha has worked at our Battle Branch for over a year. Located on the High Street, it sits in the heart of the community and often sees previous customers stop by for a cup of tea and a catch-up. Those who come in for the first time are often struggling, having lost a loved one often the day before. Here Samantha’s talent becomes clear, comforting people and sitting with them to discuss the next steps. “Some people are really heartbroken,” she says, “it can be difficult to see and for some, a hug is just what is needed.” 

Many people find that once they voice their grief with someone who listens and speaks openly can dispel some of the loneliness that comes with it. People’s gestures and condolences are very meaningful, but many still feel as though nobody understands their pain. Samantha says that people’s physical demeanour even brightens and lifts by the time they leave - explaining their wishes and plans to honour their loved one can often add a sense of purpose when one can be hard to come by

Samantha proactively relays much of what she learns through these conversations to our funeral directors, preparing them with some background to ensure that their own time spent with families is as productive as possible. 

Her going the extra mile is not unappreciated: “People pass who have come in before and stop all the time,” she says, “I’ll put the kettle on. People stop by all the time and start to look better, it's amazing to sit and watch these people. They are welcome to come and call anytime – grief doesn’t have an expiry date, give us a call.”



Gillian, who works in our Hastings & St.Leonards branch and has been with Towners for over 11 years, also points out with her experience that there is more to the role than introducing families into the process. 

“You meet a lot of nice people, and you begin to learn from the way they seem how they might react to certain things. It helps you understand and comfort them better - my favourite part of the job is meeting someone and talking to them; most people they will meet are uncomfortable with the topic, but we are always calm and welcoming. It can take their mind off the grief enough to talk it through properly.”

Like Samantha, Gillian receives much praise on her role from those who have visited. They commend the service when they come to collect their loved one’s ashes, stop by or even write in. It speaks to the ability of handling complex situations calmly that stands out in the front-of-house team across our branches. 



Beginning in 2022 after seeing the position advertised, our front-of-house in our Bexhill branch Lori says she has learned a lot in her time so far. Aside from the initial conversations with families and booking in appointments with Funeral Directors, she sheds light on more of the work that goes on behind the scenes: “You also have to liaise with GP surgeries, coroners and the Bereavement office to chase paperwork. There is a lot of official business that is taken care of behind the scenes to alleviate some of the burden from families. They should be able to focus as much as possible on what’s more important.” 

She admits she can find dealing with a lot of emotions day-to-day difficult, but that ultimately it is her favourite part of the role: “Each family is different, and all deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. Understanding that emotions are running high and taking the time to consider a calm approach helps.” 

Lori’s most memorable moments on the job come from some of the ceremonies she has helped to coordinate, saying: “I loved what was done for a classic car enthusiast’s funeral, we had a vintage 1950’s Rolls Royce hearse and limousines, the cortege that followed was very impressive. Keen motorcyclists as well - there will be a procession of old motorcycles running down the entire street and it's really nice to be able to have helped fulfil that.” 

She spoke lastly on what it takes to be successful in the role: “Attention to detail is key when keeping good records and following up with paperwork. That’s one side of it, the other is empathy, patience and understanding.”



Hannah is the newest member of the team, beginning with a great deal of enthusiasm that has seen her fit well into the role: “I've always wanted to work in the funeral industry,” she explains, “and Towners has always been my ideal as it is rare given the fact it is one of the only family run funeral directors left. Most have now been bought out by large corporations so to work in a place that has always had roots in the community is important to me, I am from Hastings so many of my relatives were under the care of Towners for their funerals which makes it that bit more special.”

Already she has grown more confident speaking with families, finding out about the person that has passed. About what she enjoys within it, she said: “I love meeting the families and finding out about their lives with the person who has passed. I love being shown photographs and chatting in branch or on the phone to them, and love how even in the throws of grief people can find comfort and happiness in remembering and sharing stories of their loved one.”

Having a smile goes a long way, she says, already demonstrating the qualities present in those other members of the team for going beyond in service. 

When it came to her most memorable moment, she remembered one occasion when “taking a first call, whereby the wife of the deceased was very distressed, I made sure to give her all the time she needed and at the end of the call she said 'I can't thank you enough for being so kind' I don't believe I said or did anything worthy of that comment apart from giving her time and comfort. It was the first time I knew I was in the field I needed to be working in.”

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