Harold White News

Five generations of Harold White funeral directors

2021 ushered in a new generation to the family business, with three sisters at the helm, Harold White continues to support the families of East London under female ownership…

Harold White Funeral Directors first opened its doors (on Wood Street, Walthamstow) back in 1888. Founded by George White, the business has since been passed from father to son over four generations. The last of these sons (also called George White) died unexpectedly in April 2021 and left the business to his daughters.

Even though they were still grieving the loss of their cherished dad, Etta, Rommalee and Courtney were honoured to be entrusted with the family business and didn’t hesitate to step up to the challenge. Luckily for the sisters, George had already established a strong team of funeral directors and managerial staff. “A lot of work goes into delivering the exceptional Harold White service and it’s only possible because of our fabulous team,” explains Rommalee. “We are constantly relying on their combined wealth of skills and experience, not to mention the boundless sympathy and compassion that they show to our families.”

The Heroines of Harold White

Whilst there have been many women who have contributed to the success of Harold White over the years, Etta, Rommalee and Courtney are proud to be the first female owners of the business. “Both our mum (Sue White) and nan (Rose White) have played key roles in the business,” comments Etta. “But they took very little credit because they mostly worked behind the scenes. We value every member of our team equally but it’s also nice to be able to shine a spotlight on the ladies who have helped to get us where we are today.”

In an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men, the sisters are happy to be part of a trend which is seeing an increasing number of women running and managing funeral directors. “We’re still a way off from having a completely level playing field for men and women,” continues Etta. “But thanks to the thousands of women who have fought hard to reach positions of influence in all businesses, the scales are moving in the right direction. We’re grateful to every one of those women and we’re constantly inspired by other women in the funeral business who have stepped away from the well-trodden path to offer a modern approach to funerals.”

Our grandmother Rosina White

The way we do business

Everybody dreads the moment when they must pick up the phone and call a funeral director. We do everything we can to make that initial conversation as easy as possible. As well as comforting those who are deep in shock and overwhelmed by grief, our team are adept at explaining the whole process, which for many people is unchartered territory.

Courtney says, “Organising a funeral doesn’t need to be a complicated affair, but it’s a lot to take on at such a difficult time. We talk families through their options and explain the costs that are associated with them. And our website includes transparent information about planning a funeral and how the price is calculated. When so much feels like it is up in the air, we want our families to know exactly where they stand with Harold White and to feel reassured by our expertise.”

Our grandfather Harold White

What the future holds

Staying relevant and successful for over 135 years takes a lot of hard work and the ability to adapt to the ever-changing world around us. Back in the late 19th century, our ancestors would have spent a great deal of time tending to the large team of horses that pulled our carriages. They couldn’t have imagined today’s business landscape where less time is spent maintaining the stables and more time is spent optimising websites and managing social media profiles. However, our service isn’t about us, it’s about today’s families, giving them the assistance they need, and helping them navigate this difficult time.

In recent years, the popularity of direct cremations (a cost-effective cremation where mourners do not attend) has risen exponentially due to the cost-of-living crisis and a shift in people’s attitudes towards funerals. But despite the financial pressures which many of us are facing, we still see many families who want to pay their respects to a loved one with either a traditional funeral or a modern interpretation of that idea. Not surprisingly, we’ve also seen an increase in the number of families asking for sustainable options to reduce the environmental footprint of a funeral.

Over the years, we’ve made the arrangements for many different types of service. No matter what the family is looking for, our goal is always the same – to provide the very best tribute possible for their loved one. We see the role of a funeral director as more than just a profession; we have a huge responsibility to help and support people who are often at their lowest point.

Everybody that comes through our doors is treated with dignity, compassion and respect. Our great great grandfather came up with these values well over a century ago but they’re just as relevant today as they were back then. In a constantly changing world, we strive to deliver consistently high standards that our families can rely on. We look forward to serving our local communities for many years to come.

Get in touch or arrange a call back

You can call us anytime on 0208 529 1530 or send us a message and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible. Please let us know if you’d prefer to receive an email rather than a telephone call (or vice versa).