"Big changes" at Forres funeral directors Tom Ross and Sons caused by coronavirus will still be seen post-lockdown
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THE coronavirus pandemic has changed the future for many local businesses – but few more so than Tom Ross and Sons.
The team at the Forres-based funeral directors has seen the very worst of the crisis and has been forced to adapt and change in unthinkable ways.
Funerals, for example, have been limited to immediate family, with no wakes post-service.
But Tom Ross and Sons have been offering an online streaming option to ensure family and friends can say final goodbyes to their loved ones. That isn't something that will be stopping when lockdown is lifted.
Managing director Callum Ross (30) said: "There have been big changes for us – most notably the reduction in the number of people attending a funeral.
"We have been using live-streaming and video recording and then, in a sense, it can be public again. We have had family members attend via video link on a phone before but organising this is all new to us.
"We have done a handful of funerals this way and they have been successful. It's never going to be the same as being side-by-side but we hope it brings some comfort to friends and family.
"This has been brought to the forefront with what is going on but we will continue to offer this service after lockdown. It is helpful for people who are abroad or offshore.
"But it's not quite the same watching on a screen and it would be nice to think people will come in person if they can."
At the start of the pandemic, Tom Ross and Sons – like many funeral directors – was preparing for the very worst.
Moray has, so far, seen 13 deaths as a result of the pandemic. Every loss is a tragedy, but the numbers are lower than many areas of the UK due to the commitment of Moray folk to sticking to restrictions, Callum added.
He said: "We feel very sorry for all of the families. It's a difficult time for everyone.
"I will be honest and say I was very worried initially – but people have heeded the advice really well and we are lucky we don't have the population density of other parts of the country.
"We see the raw end of it when we see people pass away from the illness. It's real. It's important people continue to follow the government's guidelines."
A relatively small team are dealing with the crisis at the funeral directors, too, with just Callum working alongside ex-Forres Mechanics midfielder Willie Barron (39) and former Forres Academy pupil Matthew Brown (23).
But the young and quickly-adapting team have been keeping on top of the situation.
Callum added: "We have a fairly young workforce with a modern and fresh outlook on funerals.
"We have been busy but we are coping with what we have got.
"People sometimes maybe think of a funeral director and think it's maybe not an enjoyable place to work – but being able to help people in their time of need is extremely rewarding.
"You feel you are making a difference and that makes it a good place to work. We are still able to have a laugh and a joke too – although it all stays appropriate."
The funeral directors is planning to host a service in memory of all those who have died during the pandemic when restrictions are lifted.
While the push towards modernising funerals continues, Tom Ross and Sons made a new Facebook page this month. You can like it HERE.