Tony Rowland has been awarded an MBE ‘For services to Undertaking and the community in Surrey’.
A funeral director who has supported bereaved families through their grief for 65 years has been made an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Tony Rowland, of South Croydon, is director of Rowland Brothers Limited, of Whitehorse Road, West Croydon, and with branches throughout the area, and has done voluntary work for many local charities and community. projects.
He became an apprentice at the age of 15 in 1953 and is now, at the age of 80 is still working full time. He set up, four decades ago, a continuing bereavement aftercare programme for all individuals and families making use of his firm’s services, at no extra cost to them.
Tony has now made this service available to all bereaved people throughout Croydon and the surrounding areas. He ensures sympathetic contact is made immediately following a funeral, and continues for at least a year afterwards, and often much longer.
The firm also offers practical assistance and emotional support to people who are often unsure how to cope in the often heart-breaking situation in which they suddenly find themselves.
He created a worldwide network and support structure for the efficient and compassionate repatriation of deceased British nationals who die while on holiday or working overseas.
He also arranges for the repatriation of citizens of other countries who die in the UK.
Since 1971, Tony has been responsible for more than 40,000 such repatriations, through a network of agents throughout the world, including the return of all the UK citizens who died in the South Asia tsunami, the 9/11 and 7/7 bombings, travel disasters, extreme weather emergencies and overseas hostage situations.
This involves discussions with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, its Embassies and Consulates around the world, overseas diplomats, foreign government offices, coroners, airlines, travel companies, insurance and health organisations.
Tony is regarded as an expert in international repatriation and lectures at Scotland Yard to Police family liaison officers and to the Rapid Response Team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Tony is also a training officer for new UK diplomats being prepared for overseas assignments.
Tony’s company, which was an official supplier to the 2012 London Olympics, provides the official repatriation helpline for the National Association of Funeral Directors.
One of Tony’s other innovations was the development of his funeral planning company, Golden Leaves, which was originally developed in 1984 and was one of the first funeral plan providers in the UK.
The company has now grown to be one of the most reputable funeral plan providers in the industry and is now based in Croydon.
Tony was instrumental in developing the first standards in the funeral plan industry when he helped develop the National Association of Prepaid Funeral Plans of which he was chairman in the 1990’s.
Golden Leaves is also a founding member of the Funeral Planning Authority, provides funeral plans to all UK residents and British expatriates living abroad. It include in its innovations a green burial plan and the industry’s leading insurance plan.
The Trustees in charge of the all funds are very highly respected individuals including a retired vice present of the Office of Fair Trading, the President of the European Standards Committee and Chairman of the UK National Consumer Federation.
Tony is known for his ability to relate to people of all ethnic origins and religions. He has served as Chairman of the Croydon Association of Funeral Directors and President of the London Association of Funeral Directors.
He is involved in local charitable and community work such groups as Freemasonry, Rotary, the Round Table, the Royal British Legion, scouting and schools. He has raised funds for each organisation and set up the Rowland Brothers Foundation.
He is Chairman of the Thornton Heath Business Partnership, through which he created the Thornton Heath Festival 11 years ago. This highlights the work of scouts, guides, the Boys’ Brigade and cadet corps. In its first year, 170 young people joined youth groups in the area.
A real community champion and a thoroughly deserved award.