Robert J Cot­ton marks 50 years

The Tribune (NZ) - - ROBERT J COTTON & SONS -

Fu­neral directors Robert J Cot­ton & Sons this month marked 50 years in busi­ness and for owner Trevor Cot­ton the pas­sion he has for his work has not di­min­ished over the years.

Robert Cot­ton died very sud­denly in 1972 at the age of 53 so the busi­ness was taken over by Trevor who was helped by his wife Ruth.

Ruth takes care of the ad­min­is­tra­tive side of the busi­ness and their son Hay­den has fol­lowed in the foot­steps of his fa­ther, grand­fa­ther and great-grand­fa­ther and has been in the firm for 21 years. He is now a fully qual­i­fied fu­neral di­rec­tor and em­balmer.

In Septem­ber Trevor will have notched up 45 years run­ning the busi­ness, but be­fore that he spent five years help­ing his fa­ther when the busi­ness was first es­tab­lished.

As with all busi­nesses, times and tech­nol­ogy have changed and they need to em­brace these changes to sur­vive.

‘‘Years ago when we first started we would take the cas­ket to the church, along with a trol­ley and the flow­ers. Fu­ner­als gen­er­ally started at 11am and were over by 11.45. Now peo­ple are hav­ing fu­ner­als that can stretch over three to four hours. They might have the fu­neral at 1pm then have re­fresh­ments then go on to the ceme­tery. On the other hand, some­times peo­ple choose not to have a fu­neral ser­vice, but they may have a me­mo­rial ser­vice,’’ says Trevor.

There is also a lot more work in­volved now.

Ser­vice sheets are pro­duced and a me­mo­rial book is placed in the chapel foyer so those at­tend­ing the ser­vice can record their names.

Trevor says fam­i­lies find these help­ful in look­ing back and re­flect­ing on the event.

We­b­cast­ing is a new tech­nol­ogy in the fu­neral industry that en­ables a ser­vice to be broad­cast live any­where in the world.

Photo trib­utes or DVD pre­sen­ta­tions are be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar part of to­day’s fu­neral ser­vices. It gives mourn­ers a more per­sonal look at the life of the per­son who has died. Pho­tos can be scanned from hard copies and trans­fer dig­i­tal pho­tos. It is sug­gested that fam­i­lies pre­pare 30 to 40 pho­tos and a fit­ting piece of mu­sic to ac­com­pany the photo tribute.

As part of its ser­vice to fam­i­lies, Robert J Cot­ton & Sons record all the ser­vices held at the Ter­race­haven Chapel.

Trevor says they have found that fam­i­lies trea­sure these record­ings and feel that watch­ing the fu­neral is a great heal­ing tool.

They are able to con­tract a pro­fes­sional record­ing com­pany to record ser­vices in venues other than the chapel.

As fu­neral directors be­ing avail­able to of­fer per­son­alised ser­vice and sup­port 24 hours a day, seven days a week, com­mu­ni­ca­tion has al­ways been es­sen­tial and this is one area that has ex­pe­ri­enced the most in­valu­able tech­nol­ogy change.

‘‘In the past you al­ways had to be near a phone, or have some­one man­ning the phone to pass on mes­sages. Life was quite re­stricted,’’ says Trevor.

Grad­u­ally pro­fes­sional an­swer­ing ser­vices were used but even this was re­strict­ing. It was the wide­spread use of cell­phones that re­ally made a dif­fer­ence to the lives fu­neral directors and the im­proved level of ser­vice they could then pro­vide.

Robert J Cot­ton & Sons be­lieve that, in a time of need, pro­vid­ing a fam­ily with pro­fes­sional care and com­pas­sion is es­sen­tial in help­ing peo­ple farewell a loved one in a way that is per­sonal and mean­ing­ful. ‘‘We value the trust and many friend­ships we have formed with fam­i­lies through­out the Manawatu over the past 50 years,’’ says Trevor.

A1938 Packard takes pride of place out­side Robert JCot­ton& Sons premises on Main Street.

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