Not many people can say they:
a) get personal texts from DJ and presenter Chris Evans
b) are described as the best ‘interviewee’ ever by Chris Evans
c) are not just featured, but occupy a whole chapter of his new book ‘Call the Midlife’
One person who can is our Director of Operations (North) Funeralcare, David Collingwood.
He’s become affectionately known as the ‘Funeral King’ to the car enthusiast and popular radio and TV presenter, but David Collingwood nearly didn’t get to speak to the future presenter of Top Gear, who got his days mixed up.
“We do a lot of work to try and dispel the myths around funerals,” explains David.
“We shouldn’t have that stiff upper lip when we’re talking about death, so when the opportunity came up to chat to Chris Evans two years ago I wanted to bang the drum for Funeralcare and also for our profession.”
“We’d arranged the call for 8am one Friday morning and I waited for about an hour, but no-one phoned. I was a little frustrated so just went back to work,” David shrugs.
But on Saturday morning at 8am on the dot David’s phone went and it was the man himself, who apologised profusely for messing up.
“We just chatted,” David says casually. “I talked him through what I did and that, as Funeralcare, we wanted people to start thinking about the choices and opportunities they had when it came to funerals. He talked about doing a book, approaching 50 and that he’d been thinking about death a lot.”
Before David knew it he’d been on the phone to Evans for an hour and a half and given him his life story
– that his Dad was a GP, he’d lived next door to a Funeral Directors in Bradford, he’d been interested in death from the word go, and that he shared a mutual passion with the former Big Breakfast presenter, for cars.
One story that’s in Evans’ new book is about David’s daughter Kitty, who was nine at the time, and her insistence that she was going to have a Tardis coffin. “It’s just normal that I’m a funeral director to them,” he smiles.
So how does David feel about his new-found fame? “I’ll be honest, hearing him refer to me as the ‘Funeral King’ on his breakfast show was strange, but then when he mentioned Funeralcare again and in an interview on Steve Wright’s show, it’s unprecedented to get a mention, let alone three, on national radio so it’s brilliant for us.
“I love the profession because it’s such an important part of life. Working for a business like ours where we’ve got 4,000 fantastic colleagues who are all special people giving genuine care to others at their lowest ebb – it’s easy to talk about. I flap my gums all the time!”
However, he wasn’t flapping his gums in the Exec meeting a day later when everyone, including new Managing Director Richard Lancaster, bowed to him. “I’ll struggle to live the ‘Funeral King’ tag down!” he laughs unassumingly.