It’s almost a year since I interviewed Steven Stewart, funeral director in Cupar, Fife. We’ve worked together since then so I’ve had a chance to speak to him and to his colleague Rhys Small, but only to discuss particular funerals – not to have a wide-ranging chat.
So I thought it would be good to have a proper catch up and see how Steven has been faring during this time of great change in the funeral business. I started by asking the inevitable questions about how the pandemic has played out for his business and what if any will be the lasting effects of this time. A year ago, Steven said that while the restrictions had been desperately hard for people to have to deal with, there were some positives. He had noted that some families were relieved not to have to cope with a big public ceremony. I wondered if that was still the case.
“To some extent, yes, although numbers allowed at crematoriums and graveside have been relaxed. But we’ve seen people having a bit more time to plan things and, although that can be a mixed blessing because many just want the funeral to be over with, for others it’s a chance to think a bit more about what they want from the ceremony.
“And we’ve also seen some practical things change. Paperwork and correspondence all had to go online and that was very positive for us. I’m hoping that can continue as it makes things easier and quicker for us.”
Steven also noted the slow return to normality in the hotel business and the chance for families to organize get togethers after the funeral. “Yes, that has definitely made our job easier. Especially as we had to stop using our own function suite. We’ve been using that space to provide a safe place for people to view their loved ones.”
So a little chat about pandemic stuff. But we mainly talked about all the many projects that Steven is involved with locally. He’s from a Cupar family and a family that’s always been involved in the community. His granny was very much the “go to” person in her neighbourhood and it seems that Steven has inherited that mantle.
We talked about his involvement with local sports clubs, his concern for a generation of young people but especially young men who seem lost, about his work with local charities. And especially about how a late night comment on Facebook turned into an idea for a party and festival to celebrate at least some kind of normal life at last….. and how that idea is now close to being realized as C-InThePark on 18th September. Steven is a man who turns ideas into action.
What has this got to do with the funeral world? Well, I think that being such a well known figure in the town and someone who is so involved with the community in so many ways, means people can feel comfortable about talking to him about death and funerals. About their own plans or what they want for a loved one. Subjects we all find difficult to speak about.
And people can feel confident that Steven will always try to make things work out the way families want, no matter how difficult the circumstances.
Thanks Steven, as always, for a great chat. And best wishes for C-InThePark and for your funeral work.
Steven Stewart Funeral Directors Ltd
01334 655 323
Michael Hannah, 2 September 2021