The fifth Burnell-Tovey, as the company became styled, is Richard, who reckons he is the best qualified funeral director in the land, with a B.Sc., M.Sc., and Dip F.D. - and he says he never intended to go into the business.
In the late 1970s, while waiting for replies to his many applications for jobs, Richard helped in the office answering the phone and holding the fort generally while his father, Grayston, was out conducting funerals. He was 23 when his father, who had 30 years’ experience, described him as being a born funeral director in the way he dealt with people and understood their needs. He asked Richard whether e would consider joining him in the business. So Richard said he would give it a go.
Richard is proud of the company where he has worked for 27 years and speaks glowingly of his father, Grayston, who he believes was one of the first people to be awarded the MBIE. 'He taught me all I know and when I started he made sure I worked through every age doing removals, lining coffins, preparing bodies and learning about interviewing techniques. Then having accomplished that, he asked whether I would be prepared to do the diploma course in funeral directing - and was subsequently delighted when I got top marks in the country in October 1978 and won the Scales Award'.
There is still a strong religious involvement in the business. Richard's father and grandfather were Christian Scientists. Having been involved with this movement for about fifty years and recognising their needs and special requirements, the company is well known in the Bristol and Bath areas for conducting their funerals.
The decor in the premises is still traditional throughout - very much in keeping with the building, which is now around 150 years 1 Richard has been responsible for modernising and refurbishing the funeral home, particularly the mortuary and cold room. There an attractive entrance and foyer, two private chapels of rest, a large workshop and coffin storage area, a mortuary/preparation room and a room for engraving. The transport, which is a black Daimler fleet of a hearse and two limousines, is garaged elsewhere the area.
Richard arranges and conducts all the funerals himself in this very busy company. Fortunately Judith, his partner, works with him full time and his supportive team of drivers and bearers, who work part time, are always on call.