Francis believes in bringing the highest standards of professionalism to his calling. He is mindful of the philosophy, values and tradition of serving Nelson, inherited by him down a continuous four-generation line. Francis aims to pass on those values and philosophy through his own family, with his wife Paddy, children Bridget and Patrick, who are all involved in the business – his youngest son Michael has a career in Accounting and Business Management. Francis qualified in 1966 in Australia as an embalmer and has since tutored for the embalming course for the Central Institute of Technology. He has served as president and examiner for the Embalmers Association and is a life member of that association. Francis is the long serving chairman of the Funeral Services Training Trust.
One of only four Nelsonians qualified with a NZQA Diploma in Funeral Service, and holds a Fellowship Degree of the British Institute of Embalmers, Francis strongly believes in providing a warm, professional and supportive atmosphere in which to farewell the deceased. He says funerals are for the living, where you pay your respects to the dead – remember them but also reaffirm your faith, creed or philosophy and give you assistance to cope with your loss.
Andrew Mason – Chief Executive
Helping people, especially in a time of crisis, has been a consistent theme in Andrew’s career. A former senior police Officer and leader in the UK Police Service, Andrew has many years experience dealing with people in stressful situations. As Chief Executive he is committed to ensuring his staff put families at the centre of everything they do in order to deliver the best possible funeral experience .
“I believe with our unique blend of a rich heritage to draw on, combined with high quality, contemporary funeral options, we are able to offer families any kind of funeral they would like – from traditional to modern,” Andrew says.
As well as the day-to-day management of the funeral homes Andrew ensures his staff are well supported, with continuous professional development, so they can deliver high quality funerals and standards of care.
He says the greatest satisfaction he gets from his role is seeing families coming together, sharing stories and creating positive memories from a funeral.
Originally from England, Andrew is married to a kiwi, who he met while she was on her ‘OE’. He has two children and when he’s not spending time with his family he likes to go road cycling.
Anna Fornes – Funeral Director, Marsden House
Anna began her career in the funeral industry when she was just 18. After finishing secondary school in her home state of Arkansas, USA she started working at a funeral home. By the time she was 20 she had completed her embalming and funeral directors apprenticeship, and by 21 she was a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer.
A love of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ brought Anna to New Zealand. She even completed the Tongariro crossing just so she could see where the fabled ‘Mount Doom’ was filmed for the movie.
Anna joined the team at Marsden House in 2017 and says her role encompasses ‘doing everything I can for the family’ – from ensuring their loved one is presented well to organising the funeral so they can be farewelled appropriately.
As well as a caring and compassionate approach, Anna has an aptitude for technology, which she also brings to the role.
She says the families she works with are amazing. When she gets a thank-you hug from someone she has helped through a stressful time, she feels pleased to know she has been able to make a difference when it counts.
Anna likes to be active and outside of her work; she enjoys going to the gym and is an aspiring roller derby player.
Grant McPhail – Funeral Director
After 30 years in sales management in the corporate world, Grant wanted to do something more meaningful and where he could really help people. During a working holiday in South Australia he took a job as a Mortuary Assistant and the rest, as they say, is history. Following his experience in Adelaide, Grant worked as a Funeral Assistant with Marsden House learning various aspects of the industry and is now an experienced funeral director.
Grant doesn’t see it as a job as such, but more as a privilege: ‘It is so rewarding helping families get through their grief, and to be able to take all their ideas and turn them into a service that respects both their wishes and those of the deceased.’
There is no right or wrong way to do a funeral and Grant sees it as his role to help families navigate their way through the process, placing the families at the centre of everything he does.
When he is not at work you will find Grant tinkering with his car or out in the garden. To help relax he also put on headphones, cranks up the volume and listens to remixes of everything from 80’s heavy metal to adult contemporary music.
He and his wife Lynne have a large family and so their 11 eleven children keep them very busy!. Lynne is also a Funeral Director and Grant says it’s very helpful as she understands the role, sometimes pressurised environment and the satisfaction that can be gained when you know you have created some positive memories for families.
Stephen Roberts – Funeral Director and Embalmer
A background in nursing has given Stephen a lifetime of working with people who have experiencedsome form of loss. With time spent in oncology and then orthopaedic wards, Stephen has worked with patients and their families through times of illness and trauma.
Because his professional life has always involved helping families manage their loss, it is not surprising Stephen was drawn to the funeral industry. He says his role as a funeral director and embalmer is a natural fit for him.
Stephen believes it is a privilege to be invited into the ‘cocoon’ of a family at their time of loss. He appreciates the stories they share with him and the warmth they show for their loved ones. He says it’s heart warming to see the way families come together and the support they give each other during a difficult and emotional time.
In his workshop at home, away from people, Stephen finds solace amongst his old carpentry hand tools. He says he is ‘energized by the quietness’ there and finds it restorative to turn offcuts of rimu wood into furniture – although he confesses that sometimes the result is just sawdust.
He and his wife attend Grace Church and enjoy tramping.