I feel like I’ve been pregnant with this idea for a few months now, however today I’m happy to announce the birth of Portraits of Westbourne. My quest to encourage us all get to know each other a little better, and for me to feed my love for making portraits of people has officially begun. The first brave soul to help me out is Liz Normandale of Chester Pearce Funeral Services who very kindly took some time out to chat with me, and introduce me to the rest of the team.
Tell me about your relationship with Westbourne?
It’s part of my childhood and now it’s where I work. My brother, Stephen, and I were born in Poole and bought up in Branksome. We spent time here with our Mum, shopping, banking, doing everyday things really. Our Dad was born in what is now “House of Lights”. When we were lucky enough to find a suitable premise in Westbourne for our business, it was like coming home. It was meant to be.
Why did you become a funeral director?
I came to work with my brother when he established Chester Pearce Funeral Service. He needed help running the business. As a small company we all have to be able to do everything. If a family comes in there will always be someone here who is able to look after them. So I learnt to arrange funerals and finally learnt to direct funerals as part of a different job.
How many funerals a year take place in Westbourne?
For us about 180.
What is the most requested song at a funeral?
“Angels” by Robbie Williams I think on a national level. Ours tends to change depending on who is en vogue. Recently “Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheernan has been popular.
Is there a funeral that you will always remember?
I think you always remember your first funeral.
What does a “bad day at the office” look like?
We don’t really have bad days thank goodness! For me the hardest days are the quiet ones.
What does being a funeral director teach you about life and death?
We need to cherish every day because we really don’t know when it will be our last. It sounds like a cliché but it’s true.
Growing up what job did you dream of doing?
I really never dreamed of doing anything.
What job would you dream of doing now?
Probably these days I would be a dog walker! However I’m really happy doing what I do and would probably miss it if it changed!
Westbourne has its fair share of famous residents, are you like me and instantly start singing “In the Summertime” when you see Mungo Jerry?
I’ve seen Gazza, Graham Souness, Eddie Howe and Jermaine Defoe in my lunch breaks! Mungo Jerry often walks past the office and yes, we do!
How big a part does a “Yellow Sticker” play in your life?
I have no idea what a “Yellow Sticker” is!
How do you feel about having your photograph taken?
I hate having my photograph taken.
Do you talk to strangers?
Yes, I do talk to strangers.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do you sing?
What’s something you should throw away, but can’t? Explain why.
We have hundreds of pieces of “artwork” by my daughter! It’s really hard to know when you can throw them away because there are far too many to keep them all! I have however started a treasure box to keep the best ones and I often loose others!
How often do you get a haircut? Describe your worse haircut.
Every three months. I don’t remember ever having had a bad haircut!
What’s the best New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made?
To stop procrastinating!
Can you touch your toes?
Tell me something about you that I would never know.
I used to swim for Dorset.
If I gave you £100 to spend in one place in Westbourne, where would you go, what would you buy, and why?
M&S on food!
What would you do to improve Westbourne?
Open a bigger variety of shops. We don’t need any more restaurants!
Who do you think should be featured next on the blog?
The celebrities of Westbourne!
Well I can’t guarantee I’ll entice the celebrities straight away but I’m working on it. If you’re reading this and fancy getting involved then please do get in touch. Business owners, community groups, social clubs, or simply individuals with a Westbourne tale to tell, you’re all welcome and I’d love to chat with you and make a portrait or two with you. A big thanks for reading too !!
Antony Northcutt shoots corporate and children’s portraiture, and is also available to discuss bespoke photography projects with you.