Serving families across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire for generations.

Funeral director Alan calls it a day after 45 years of helping families say farewell

Funeral director Alan calls it a day after 45 years of helping families say farewell

He reckons he has helped thousands of families say farewell to their loved ones during his career, and last week our very own long-serving Alan Winfield called it a day after an incredible 45 years in the industry.

Alan Winfield, a familiar face at our Kimberley office, in Main Street, conducted his last funeral on Thursday, having joined us 27 years ago and having spent the majority of his time working in our Stapleford office.

Fittingly, the funeral was that of a former customer who herself had arranged a number of send-offs for family members with Alan down the years, helping to bring an end to a career he had dreamed of making a living in since he was a boy.


This was despite the wishes of his own father, who warned him against a profession that involved irregular hours and would impinge on family life.

Alan resisted his arguments and conducted his first funeral at the age of 20 in 1979, a service he says he remembers as if it had taken place yesterday.

He said: “It was in Derby and it involved a hearse taking the loved one straight to the crematorium. I remember being very apprehensive and nervous on the day because of all the responsibility that I had.

“Forty-five years later, I still feel apprehensive when I do a funeral. I have always thought that if you start to become complacent then it is time you left the industry because it’s a huge privilege to do what we want to do.

“Instead, I’m leaving the industry because I’m retiring and I can’t believe the day is here at last. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my career but it’s a very emotional occasion because I don’t like saying goodbyes.”

Alan, who was born in Derby and lives in Sinfin with his wife, Sue, spent part of his career in Torbay before moving back to the Midlands.

Not long after he started working at Gillotts in 1997, he was asked to grow our newly opened office in Main Street and he shared his time between the town and Stapleford.

Alan remembers many of the funerals that he has conducted down the years, from services held with full military honours for members of the Armed Forces and even a funeral for a police dog handler, where a line-up of police dogs was pressed into action as a guard of honour.

He has also seen how the industry has changed dramatically over the years, including a huge increase in the types of funeral services available as well as the products including coffins, hearses, urns and items such as keepsake jewellery and even diamonds made from the cremated remains.

He said: “When I started, funeral directors told families what they would be getting and when the funeral would be and how much it would cost.

“Now there is so much choice that it’s the families who are telling us what they want and it’s up to us to make the arrangements in accordance with their wishes, which is something I’m all for.

“It’s incredible how much the industry has changed, and one of the reasons behind that change was Princess Diana’s funeral in 1998.

“It was so different to what we were used to that it made the industry sit up and take notice and brought funerals into the modern day.”

Alan is now looking forward to spending his retirement in service to the Church of England, as the associate priest for the parishes of Melbourne, Ticknall, Stanton-by-Dale in Derbyshire and Smisby in Leicestershire.

Anthony Topley, a partner in Gillotts Funeral Directors, said: “Alan has played a huge part in Gillotts’ story over the past 27 years and he has seen an extraordinary number of changes in the company and our industry during the past 45 years.

“Throughout all of that time his caring nature and professionalism has shone through and the very many families in Kimberley and Stapleford who remember him and return to ask him to conduct funerals for their loved ones are testament to his long and distinguished service.

“We all wish him a long and happy retirement and thank him for the last 27 years. He has spent the last few months helping Kirstie learn how to arrange and conduct funerals and she could not have had a better mentor.”