Michael Tiney. Well known and popular in the area, Michael is a second-generation funeral director, having joined his parents in the family business in 1996, fourteen years after John and Jennifer opened the doors of the premises in Western Road, in a part of London they knew well.
John and Jennifer had supplied funeral vehicles to the funeral profession since the 60s, so opening their own small funeral company in West London was a natural progression, and they quickly became established in the local community. Both of their sons eventually joined them in the family business, although Michael’s brother is no longer involved. John was an expert, and a perfectionist, and as Michaels says, “I had the privilege of learning the trade from him.”
Sadly, John died some years ago, and Michael stepped up to help his mother continue running the company. He had worked in the car trade before changing trade to learn about every aspect of funerals and work alongside his parents, and had had a thorough grounding in every part of the role. “I wouldn’t say I learned from the bottom up,” he says, “because I don’t consider any part of the work we do as lower or higher in importance. I’d say I learned everything across the board that goes into making a funeral go perfectly.”
The family involvement with Southall Funeral Service is paramount to the success of the business, and Michael is now very much at the heart of things.
Jennifer recently retired from working and is enjoying her new freedom in retirement, although she remains a partner and retains an interest in how the business is doing, and Michael’s son Ben has now joined the company, becoming the third generation of the family to serve the people of Southall and surrounding areas.
Under Michael’s hand, this small business has moved forward with the times while retaining the traditional values that John and Jennifer began it with. The premises in Western Road are modern and inviting, with a small reception area visible through the large, floor to ceiling windows on the corner plot where they are situated. Their price list on the wall can be read from outside, there’s nothing hidden here, and they try to have as much information on view as possible, without it being overwhelming for families.
Through a central door, a corridor leads to a room where funeral arrangements can be discussed in privacy, and several small chapels of rest where you can spend time with the person who has died. The chapels are light and uncluttered, without any religious symbols although these will be provided if you wish.
At the end of the corridor is a beautiful washing room, quite the nicest one we have ever seen, and fully equipped for ritual washing, while beyond this room is the newly fitted mortuary area complete with fridge space where everyone in the care of the company is looked after until the day of their funeral.
All the admin and office work takes place upstairs, out of the way of visitors, and this is also where you’ll find Chester, Michael’s gorgeous young Labrador who is very much a part of the company. Chester is the perfect therapy dog, and often sits in quietly on meetings with families, providing a gentle distraction and comfort for dog lovers.
A few minutes away from the premises in Western Road is a large unit on an industrial estate where the vehicles are kept and looked after, and coffins are stored. The drivers are based here, and they have a comfortable mess room upstairs with storage for uniforms, a shower and all the facilities they need.
This is a lovely little business that has been very much embraced by the diverse community that it serves, and much of this must be down to the Tiney family’s willingness to learn from the people they work for. Michael is highly thought of by the Sikh community in particular, and he has been honoured by them twice over the years, presented with two special prayer shawls for his services to the community. Southall Funeral Service has become the preferred undertaker for the Sikh community and carries out almost all Sikh funerals in the area, which is quite an accolade for a company with no staff members belonging to this faith.
Michael describes his business as ‘traditional, welcoming and friendly’, and this is very much echoed by the glowing reviews left online, both on the company website and the company Facebook page and in the reviews left on Google. A couple of typical excerpts read:
‘The most compassionate, humble and respectful people I have ever met.’
‘They made the whole process as easy as it could be and my brother and I can’t praise them highly enough. No hard sell, just respect, care and excellent attention to detail.’
‘I don’t know how to express my thanks to you for your amazing support over a somewhat difficult time. I have been absolutely overwhelmed by your professionalism, support and care over the past few weeks. Your style, personality and attention to detail to us as a grieving family and respect for my mother has been superb, from the first telephone call to you, your pursuit to helping us find out information from the coroner, to your expertise at the funeral yesterday.’
It’s evident that this company gets it just right, there’s been a huge amount of thought put into what clients need from them, and the ethos underpinning everything they do is to serve every family to the absolute best of their ability.
Retaining the traditional values that are so appreciated by clients while constantly looking ahead to ensure that all options and choices are offered to families without overloading them with decisions. Michael is a firm advocate of transparency being the way forward, and a keen learner – he and other staff members are currently in the process of furthering their education and qualifications to ensure they are the best they can possibly be.
Their expertise in funerals from all customs and cultures is much appreciated by the community around them, as well as other funeral directors who are less experienced in working with different communities, and they offer a repatriation service for families who need to return their relatives to the country of their birth for the funeral.
The wishes of each family they serve. Michael and his team will provide you with as much information, advice and support as you need. No request or personal preference would ever be dismissed, only assisted, and it’s apparent that everyone here will bend over backwards to make sure everything goes right for you throughout your contact with them.
A clever blend of traditional and modern makes this an exceptional funeral business. They are completely in tune with the expectations of the communities around them, and can seamlessly adapt to whatever a client requires. While formal and traditional in style generally, there is an underpinning warmth and friendliness that quickly ensures families feel at ease with whoever they first meet, and as far as possible this person will stay with you throughout your contact with the company. Everyone at Southall Funeral Service is kept constantly updated on every aspect of every funeral so that anyone you speak to will be fully aware of your wishes and the progress that has been made in the arrangements.
Your first call will probably be received by Peter Terry (office manager) or Victoria Christie who is based in the office every day, or Michael Tiney, it depends who first picks up the phone.
Home visits – absolutely, they are completely guided by you and your family’s preferences.
Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, all staff are fully practiced in assisting or leading ritual washing, and there will always be a same sex person available to care for the person who has died.
Embalming? While this is encouraged where the staff feel it would be advantageous, it is never enforced.
Ethnic specialism? ‘We serve all ethnic groups and adhere to all cultural beliefs, every step of the way’.
Home arranged funerals? Of course, with as much or as little help as you require.
Local celebrants – they have a long list of officiants / celebrants who they recommend on a regular basis
Vehicles: Jaguar fleet, accompanied by a very attractive purpose built Jaguar estate car that has been fitted with a deck to carry coffins if families prefer this to a hearse, or that can be used instead of a limousine.
Website: Very nice website, prices online, lots of useful information.
Client support: Very good indeed, both before and after the funeral. Some of the staff are trained in bereavement counselling and if additional support is required then they will help you to find the right kind of assistance.
Money matters: Good value for money.
Parking: There are a couple of designated parking bays on Featherstone road outside for clients, further (undesignated)parking is available along Western Road
This is one of the best kind of funeral directors – a family run business that is at the heart of the community, and beloved by the families they care for. It is a company that is small enough to be adaptable and flexible, but professional enough to offer the very best service, with years of skill and experience ensuring that you will feel in the safest of hands.
For Michael Tiney, this is not a job, it’s his way of life, and he wouldn’t have it any other way – we’re sure it was the same for his late father John when he created Southall Funeral Service almost four decades ago, and we’re sure John would be so very proud to see his grandson Ben joining the business, with the same dedication and commitment to being of service to the people around him.