Unsung hero: Head of family of undertakers helping grieving families
7:00am Saturday 22nd September 2012 in News
Organising a funeral can be a difficult undertaking, but Alan Greenwood has been looking after the borough’s grieving families for 19 years, writes Hana Hausmeister.
After leaving school at 15 with no qualifications he started a removal business.
He opened his first funeral parlour in 1993 and now owns 17 across Surrey and employs more than 50 people.
Mr Greenwood, 62, said: “We pride ourselves on doing a good job. We always feel privileged to be doing it and helping on someone’s last journey.”
As a business devoted to taking care of families, Alan Greenwood and Sons is family-run.
Mr Greenwood’s sister Valerie, 60, heads their branch in Kingston, and his son Adam, 27, works as her assistant.
Mr Greenwood said: “Valerie is totally devoted to running our business. She takes no holidays.
“I’m hoping that Adam will eventually take over.”
As the biggest undertaker’s business in the borough, Alan Greenwood and Sons has been in charge of many high profile funerals as well as countless services.
Mr Greenwood said: “We did the funeral of Sarah Payne. It was a difficult job to do. It was a big funeral and we couldn’t put a single foot wrong.”
When building the business, Mr Greenwood was on call solidly for 12 years, 24-7, 365 days a year, including Christmas and Boxing Day.
Their 24-hour service means their phones are always on at night and at the weekends.
Mr Greenwood said: “I still go out at night, if the families want me to be there, or if one of my team can’t be there. “I go out in the van and I still conduct funerals.
“We get a lot of families coming back to branches, thanking us, having cups of tea with us, making friends with us.
“It is most rewarding when you can provide good services and have a happy family, make the worst day of their lives a little bit easier.”