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£500k investment helps funeral director in Moray livestream and record services to help loved ones during Covid-19 pandemic


By Chris Saunderson

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NEW technology installed as part of a £500,000 refurbishment at a Moray funeral director has helped grieving families and friends cope with the loss of a loved one amid Covid-19 restrictions.

The Elgin funeral home of WG Catto underwent a change earlier this year just prior to lockdown coming in.

That included a significant IT investment to add live streaming and recording for those who can't attend a service. That was originally designed for family members or friends who were abroad or living elsewhere in the UK and could not get home for the funeral.

The new technology allows the funerals to be livestreamed and recorded.
The new technology allows the funerals to be livestreamed and recorded.

However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic meant the technolgy has been a godsend due to restrictions on the numbers of people who can be at a funeral service.

Bob Proctor, Funeral Director at W.G. Catto said: “We have been working through extremely challenging times to deliver our services to families in the Covid‐19 climate, adapting quickly to ensure people can say goodbye safely

and thoughtfully.

"The investment from William Purves enables us to modernise W.G. Catto’s facilities so that they are more comfortable and spacious and have all the latest technology that enables ‘new normal’ funerals to take place and keep Elgin families connected.

Current restrictions limit the number of people at a service to just 20 and the singing of hymns is not allowed, and at the peak of the pandemic just 10 people were allowed to be in attendance.

The W.G. Catto team in Moray, from left, Derek Johnston, Bob Proctor and John MacKay.
The W.G. Catto team in Moray, from left, Derek Johnston, Bob Proctor and John MacKay.

When many funerals would normally see in excess of 150 or 200 people turn out to pay respects, Mr Proctor said this has posed lots of challenge.

"We are trying to deal with a really bad situation as sensitively as we can and with a lot of dignity and respect," he added.

"Thankfully, we have not had any instances of family members not being able to see a deceased person."

The live streaming and recording facility has helped people pay their respects while observing the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Bob Proctor said: “We have been working through extremely challenging times to deliver our services to families in the Covid‐19 climate, adapting quickly to ensure people can say goodbye safely and thoughtfully.

Derek Johnston and Bob Proctor go over arrangements for a funeral.
Derek Johnston and Bob Proctor go over arrangements for a funeral.

“The investment from William Purves enables us to modernise W.G. Catto’s facilities so that they are more comfortable and spacious and have all the latest technology that enables ‘new normal’ funerals to take place and keep Elgin families connected.”

And Tim Purves, chairman of William Purves, which owns WG Catto, said: “W.G. Catto has served the local community for over 100 years and we are proud they are a key part of the William Purves family. Our investment in brings the firm fully into our brand and with that, comes backing to ensure they are supported and empowered to deliver the best possible service to people in Elgin, Forres and the Moray area.”

The firm has also launched a new website with free online resources for the public to help keep up with the current high demand from those planning ahead.

Mr Proctor added: “Our new online resource will help people to make arrangements from the comfort of their own home, freely accessing valuable resources such as funeral planning information. We have experienced an influx of people wanting to get their affairs in order and make funeral plans in recent weeks and months, and being able to offer quality resources is key to supporting our clients.”

Now part of the William Purves family, W.G. Catto has undergone a refurbishment worth more than half a million pounds and has a new team in place to enhance how funerals are arranged and delivered.

The team comprises three funeral directors, Bob Proctor who has been with the company since 2005,Derek Johnston, who moved to Elgin following an army posting, and new recruit, John MacKay.

Rooted in values of compassion, dedication, integrity and respect, they offer a personalised service to help grieving families make funeral plans.

The refurbishment work has been undertaken so that when families can gather again safely, they will benefit from bigger, more comfortable and versatile spaces with cutting‐edge technology.

It includes:

  • Two updated viewing rooms and comfortable arranging spaces
  • Enhanced service space with large screen presenting lyrics, photo tributes and slideshows.
  • IT for live streaming and recording for those that can’t attend.
  • Improved disabled access.
  • Increased privacy with dedicated arrival space for families.
  • Purpose‐built mortuary and staff offices.
  • Advice materials for families and complimentary support material.
  • Large service space for community and charity groups and their meetings.
  • Improved parking and proximity to the cemetery.
  • Distinctive silver fleet of high-quality vehicles.


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