South Shields funeral director launches new business and his first ceremony will be for his own brother
After two decades working for a number of different funeral companies in the area, Richard Dalton finally opened his own business on Whiteleas Way just six weeks ago.
He did not expect, however, that the first client he would be faced with would be his only brother, 10 years his elder.
"He was the first deceased person I’ve had on the premises,” Mr Dalton told The Gazette.
"I’ve realised that, when we bury George on Monday, it’ll have been a year to the day since I first came in to have a look at the shop – before the pandemic hit and things began to get held up.”
George Dalton, who, with his brother, Richard, grew up in the Whiteleas area of South Shields, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January 2020.
According to his brother, George had “initially gone in thinking he had appendicitis...he had a pain in his side – that’s all he went in for”.
But, by the time further tests were carried out, his family says the cancerous cells had already spread to his lungs, liver and prostate.
He was given only a couple of weeks to live by doctors, but held out for more than a year following on from the diagnosis.
“They said to him there and then that there was nothing they could do for him,” Mr Dalton said.
"They gave him three weeks last January and just told him, ‘Live the best life you can’. And he lasted all the way until February 22.”
Mr Dalton says his late brother will be remembered by many for his “wicked sense of humour” that saw him make light of the grave circumstances until the very end.
George had been a carpet-fitter for ships in his twenties, as well as a miner at Westoe pit and a barman at the Mechanics Arms.
"It’s a strange feeling. When this is your line of work, you don’t want anybody else to have them either,” Mr Dalton added.
"And that’s the way I felt about George. He used to have a standing joke with me – I used to visit him after work and he would swear at me and tell me ‘that he wasn’t ready’.
"When you’ve been told ‘he’s got a week left’ three times and he bounces back on each occasion, it is then quite a shock when it does finally happen.
"I usually obsess about every little detail for the funerals I do, anyway. But, because it’s my brother and I want to look after him, it’s taken on an added dimension this time – I suppose to some degree it’s become a sort of coping mechanism over this past week or so.”
George Dalton’s funeral will take place on Monday, March 1, 2021. The procession is expected to pass Richard Dalton Funerals at around 9.30am.