A combination of losing her brother at just 35 and then her father five years later and seeing how sensitively both funerals were handled by Beckford’s, had Paula Ettesse-Wilson really interested to join the company.
‘I’d worked in the finance industry for 20 years and then had a career break to bring up our children. When it came time to go back to work, I wanted to work in a caring, compassionate and empathetic environment, a place where I could feel my people skills were really making a difference to peoples’ lives on a personal level.
I proactively called Beckford’s to see if they had any office vacancies and gradually, over the years, I have worked my way up from providing temporary sickness and admin cover to working here full-time as a funeral coordinator and the office administrator.
It’s a very varied role and I’m usually the first person people speak to when they call us at the Beckford’s office. I’m also on call two evenings a week and every fourth weekend so it could also well be me that people speak to. When that phone goes, you never know what situation you are going to be dealing with. There are lighter moments though – we must have a similar number to a cattery because we do get the odd phone call from people wanting to book their cats in for a holiday!
I’ve been here four and a half years now and I can honestly say this is the best job I have ever had. I think I am in the minority when I say I look forward to Monday mornings and the fact that I get paid for doing something I love so much is almost a bonus!
It’s a total and utter privilege supporting families and loved ones to feel at ease in the most vulnerable of situations. I definitely think having experienced the loss of two close family members allows me to understand what people are going through. You simply cannot help be moved by each family’s own individual loss and the whole team at Beckford’s is there to support families through the whole process. If someone has not made an Expression of Wishes or pre-planned their funeral, it can often be a very bewildering time with many decisions needing to be made within a short space of time. However, as Guernsey’s longest established funeral directors, at Beckford’s we know exactly what needs to be done and are there to support and advise every step of the way.
As we also offer a memorial service, we often see families again several months later when we meet with them to discuss what sort of engraving they would like on the gravestone. It’s genuinely lovely to see them again and hear how they are coping.
The feedback you receive afterwards is so lovely. People are just getting over a very traumatic loss and yet they still send us the most lovely thank you notes. In addition to complimenting us on the service we provide, we get a lot of comments about the tranquil and peaceful setting of Beckford’s, our lovely chapel and what a haven of calm and peace we are for them in a very stressful time. We are very fortunate to have such rural and quiet setting for a funeral directors, interrupted only by the intermittent movement of the local cow herd up and down the lane!’