TWO long-serving funeral service staff have been recognised for the dedication they have given to bereaved families over the years.
Andrew Gardner, 44, a funeral director with Mason and Gerald Martin Funeral Service in Hartlepool, has been honoured for 20 years of service with the Park Road-based company.
Michael Barnett, 65, a chauffeur/bearer, was also rewarded with gifts upon his retirement from the firm.
Andrew, who is from the Foggy Furze area of town and married to Ellen, started out as a driver and bearer with the firm.
Company bosses saw potential in him to become a funeral director and he was helped through his qualifications.
The dad-of-two has now been a funeral director for 15 years.
Gerald Martin, funeral director and owner of the firm, said: “Andrew is a sympathiser and he gives empathy and support.
“He is caring and listens to people and people respect him for the job he does when he is caring for them. “I would like to thank him for his dedication and I knew when I chose him to be a funeral director I had chosen the right person.”
Andrew, who is also the service’s health and safety co-ordinator, was given a 20 years long service badge and a cheque.
Michael, who is married to Val and lives in Middlesbrough, joined Mason and Gerald Martin 15 years ago after serving in the Royal Navy and as a fireman with Cleveland Fire Brigade.
Mr Martin was full of praise for the senior chauffeur/bearer.
He said: “He ensured that the hearses and limousines and the other chauffeur/bearers were immaculately turned out and provided a high quality of service that our client families expect when we are carrying out a funeral of their loved one.
“He will be sorely missed by myself and all the staff.”
Michael was presented with a watch and a porcelain figurine for his wife, as well as a cheque.