Felpham funeral director Darren Miles is celebrating ten years in business.
Having learned the trade while working with his father in Yateley, Surrey, he set up Darren Miles Funeral Service in Felpham Road in 2007.
Darren, 49, said: “I would not change my job. It is a very personal job. People tell me such personal things, which I would never attempt to repeat. They trust us with their loved ones and that is quite nice. I do enjoy it.
“I have done funerals for friends and for family. People say you must get used to it but you don’t and if you do, you should not be in this job.”
Darren’s father, Barry Miles, starting working at a funeral directors when he was made redundant from his job as a mechanic. His father-in-law was working at the funeral directors at the time and eventually, Barry took over the business.
Darren has been in the funeral industry for 30 years himself, although his first job was doing ceiling fixing.
He explained: “I went up to see Dad for the weekend and he got a call and said I would have to help him. It was in the ’80s in the recession. It went from there.”
Darren was born in Bognor Regis and when he moved back from Surrey, he worked as a funeral director in the area before starting up his own business, Darren Miles Funeral Service.
Five years ago, he opened Oaklands Funeral Service in Chichester to run alongside the Felpham business.
Darren said: “It is a nice job, very community based.
“I always get people saying I am not what they expect from a funeral director because I am always smiling. People think funeral directors are all doom and gloom but I can’t be like that. I get to do a lot of talking – and I am very good at it.
“You have to treat people how you would want to be treated yourself. People want a bit of comfort when they have lost somebody. I can be talking to people for two hours and we haven’t even mentioned funerals.
“Seeing people you know are hurting is difficult, though.”
Darren is also known for his charity work in Felpham, including for the Poppy Appeal and sponsoring Bognor Rugby Club. He donates his shop window to different charities, so they can use it to raise awareness.
The business premises has not changed much in Darren’s time, as it is a very old site.
Darren is pleased to be able to offer people the option of a simple service in the Chapel of Rest there, as people do not necessarily wish to attend the crematorium or a church.
“It provides an alternative venue for an intimate service,” he said.
“It is nice for people to be able to just sit there quietly for as long as they need, without feeling rushed.”