A Funeral Director has said his 40 years helping bereaved families in Crawcrook and Ryton has been an honour and a privilege.
Darren Johnstone, 57, is celebrating four decades at E Peart Funeral Director in Kepier Chare, Crawcrook.
The Peart family set up the funeral home in the 1930s and were friends of Darren’s family. He then began helping out when he was 17.
Darren continued to work at the funeral home when the owners Bob and Joe Peart retired in 1985, and it was sold to local businessman Graeme Ward.
The business was left to Darren when Graeme died in 1994. He has been at the helm ever since, selling the business to the country’s third largest funeral business Funeral Partners in 2021 but remaining as the face of E Peart for local families in his role as Business Principal.
Darren said he knew he wanted to be in funerals from an early age, having sung in the choir and played the organ at St John’s Parish Church in Greenside where he would see funerals being conducted.
“It was something I always knew I wanted to do,” he said.
“Obviously, back then, I was helping out with whatever I could to get a foot in the door.
“My father had a printing business, but that just didn’t appeal to me.”
During his four decades in the industry, Darren has seen a host of changes in the industry and the local community but said one thing that hasn’t changed is the exceptional level of care at E Peart that has remained a constant.
“The personal side of things has stayed the same – the way we look after people hasn’t changed – and that’s why I have stayed so long,” he said.
“You go into client homes and often find people who are understandably distressed and hopefully leave with them feeling a little bit better that we will be there for them, to support and guide them throughout the funeral arrangements.
“You only get one chance at a funeral, and I think over the last 40 years we’ve done well at getting it right for our families.
“I have also been incredibly lucky with the people I’ve worked with. All of them have stayed with me for long periods and have been the right fit.
“The thing that has changed is how aware family members have become about the funeral process and their options.
“Back then, it was almost like you would tell them what they were having, whereas that has now reversed, and things are much better for it.”
Darren, 57, has no immediate plans to retire and said a lot of the pressure lifted from his shoulders when he began working with Funeral Partners, so he could concentrate on the families he and his team serve.
“I’m still enjoying it, and, although I’m working a little less than I used to, I’ve still got a lot to offer,” he added.
For more information about E Peart, visit www.epeartfuneraldirector.co.uk/