Camelon funeral directors stay strong for people in a year of terrible loss

A long established funeral directors in Camelon is doing its utmost to ease the suffering of scores of bereaved families during the COVID-19 pandemic while coming to terms with a tragedy of their own.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 8:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 9:29 am

Sadly there are lots more funerals for John O’Connor Funeral Directors Ltd to take care of at this time as people in the area succumb to the coronavirus.

The two generation family firm caters to both families and individuals and is there to help people with all of the issues which can arise when a loved one passes away.

As the firm’s website states: “It is at times of high stress when the family of John O'Connor is there to wrap it's professional arms around those who grieve. Our concern is your care, your comfort and your satisfaction in knowing your trust in our firm is well placed.

Steven O'Connor at his father's grave with the one-of-a kind headstone in Camelon Cemetery

"You will find we have a meticulous concern for the small details that only the bereaved would notice. The family of John O'Connor is here to provide strength and comfort to your family in its greatest hour of need.”

The last 12 months have seen the firm become even more dedicated in its duty of care.

Firm director Steven O’Connor said: “It’s been quite a year of change for us in terms of rules due to COVID-19 – first we were allowed 30 mourners at funerals then it went down to 10 and now it stands at 20 people.

“All you can do is listen to the news and keep up with what is going on. We thought, we can get through this and we have. Our staff have been so helpful. Now we have just got to be prepared to go out to people’s homes with our PPE.”

Steven O'Connor and dad John O'Connor open the family's first funeral home in Plean back in 2011

The number of mourners attending funerals and wearing protective equipment are just two of the many rules John O’Connor Funeral Directors Ltd must ensure it strictly adheres to and also ensure people attending funerals strictly adhere to.

There is the two metre physical distancing rule, although this does not apply if you are from the same household or a carer looking after someone. Also, face coverings must be worn at indoor funeral services and no one should attend a funeral if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

The number restrictions at funerals in recent months has led to people lining streets as funeral cars drive past to pay respects to neighbours who have died.

And there have been a large number of funerals in these worrying times.

Steven said: “We normally deal with at most 22 or 24 funerals in a month, but in Feburary there we had 31. I would love to have known what dad would have thought of all this."

Steven’s father John O’Connor sadly died of a heart attack aged 59 on November 21, 2019.

John had been married to wife Marie for 42 years and when he died Steven took over the business which he began with his father a decade earlier.

"We’ve been going for 10 years this November,” said Steven. “We opened a premises in Plean in 2011 and then moved to Camelon when a premises in Main Street became available.”

A well respected figure in the local community who helped families come to terms with losing loved ones over the years, John will also now be remembered for his unique headstone which now marks his final resting place in Camelon Cemetery and pays tribute to the profession he excelled at.

The black top hat headstone, which states “Treasured memories of John ‘Jock’ O’Connor, dearly loved dad, papa and brother, beloved husband of Marie”, was a year in the making and Steven feels it was certainly well worth the wait.

"It was a one off headstone from a company in Sauchie called J&G Mossman. I don’t know if it was because of COVID-19, but it took a year after dad’s death for it to be ready to place at Camelon Cemetery.

"It was just an idea mum and I had to celebrate what dad had done for a living all those years – he was certainly well known in the community.”

John never lived to see the family business move into its most recent new location at the former St Mary of the Angels Church, in Laurel Court, Camelon.

"His was the first funeral we ever did from the new premises,” said Steven. "When the church became available we thought, go for it. And then we got permission to go ahead and do services there.”

The famous building, which only dates back to 1961, is a highly regarded A-listed structure because it was created by the renowned architects Gillespie, Kidd and Coia.

The firm had a long standing association with the Catholic Church and this resulted in the creation of St Mary of the Angels.

The square building used yellow, cream and brown bricks in various combinations, as well as timber beams and coloured glass. It was received with mixed feelings at first, but the congregation came to love its unique style.

Now, rather than being demolished or turned into a public house, it is being used by a much respected local funeral business.

Steven “It’s only used for services just now and it’s obviously going to take us time to develop the new premises. We are still working out of the Camelon Main Street location at the moment.”

Call (01324) 637722 or visit www.facebook.com/John-OConnor-Funeral-Directors-Ltd for more information.