Graham Newman is a Chauffeur Bearer with CPJ Field based at Rampion House, Burgess Hill. We spoke with Graham about his job and what it means to be a Chauffeur Bearer.
Firstly, what does a Chauffeur Bearer do?
Our first duty is to remove people from the location where they have sadly passed away and transfer them safely to the coroners or funeral home. We also drive the hearse to funerals and bear the coffins into the Church of Crematorium. Outside of this, we prepare coffins and nameplates, maintain the company vehicles and oversee the upkeep of the funeral homes and garages.
How did you get into your role as a Chauffeur Bearer?
I was working as a past-time Chauffeur Bearer whilst working another job. A full-time position became available at the Christopher Stringer funeral home in Brighton and I was fortunate to be offered the job.
What did your friends and family think about you working in the funeral sector?
My friends and family know that this is a job not everyone is able or wants to do and I feel proud that I am able to take on the role. Chauffeur Bearers can be some of the first people a family meet when someone passes away. Helping them is our top priority. The job is about care and compassion and when I tell people that, they get a wider understanding of why I do what I do.
What are some of the challenges you face as a Chauffeur Bearer?
We have to follow a lot of procedures and it is important to make sure we have recorded all the relevant information correctly. It is a very difficult time for families and the smallest decision can feel like an impossible task, we’re here to guide them through.
What is the best part of your job?
It is always a sad occasion when we meet families, but knowing that we can provide them with a caring professional service provides some comfort. We get a lot of thanks after the funeral and I am proud knowing that I have helped make a difficult time a little bit easier.
Are there any funeral services you have worked on that standout?
I worked on the funeral of Henry Allingham, the WWI veteran. A funeral is always a sad occasion but I was honoured to be part of this extraordinary man’s memorial service and final send off.