I take pride in looking after people
Like many of us, Glenys Jones didn’t really have any contact with a funeral director until her Mother sadly died.
“That was the experience that really showed me a little of what was involved in working in the funeral industry,” she says.
Glenys moved to Crowborough when she was ten years old and, while at Beacon School, had always intended to get a job as a secretary. After leaving school, she started working in local government for an examination board in Tunbridge Wells.
Later, when her children were small, she and a friend opened a shop in Jarvis Brook called ‘The Baby Nest’.
“We sold everything related to having babies – from baby equipment to maternity clothes and children’s outfits,” she remembers. “It was a good job to have when our children were small – as one of us would be out the front, while the other would be entertaining the kids out the back.”
Glenys eventually ended up working for an estate agency in the town.
About a year after her Mother died, Glenys saw an advert with a local funeral director as a secretary/receptionist and applied. She was successful and, from that moment, her working life changed.
“I completely embraced being involved in the funeral industry,” she remembers. “We worked as a team and I learnt so much from the people around me.”
Glenys eventually became manager of the firm and says that for a traditional funeral director this was a time of change.
With the business she was working for in the process of being sold, Glenys made the decision – along with former colleague Stephen Tester – to launch Tester & Jones.
“I think what sealed it for me was finding the building in London Road,” says Glenys. “It was so different from a traditional funeral home – so light and airy and it just seemed right.”
When the pair started out, it was just the two of them and she says that they literally did everything – from typing up the estimates to washing the hearse.
“We were and still are a team,” she says. “Both Stephen and I really care about the community here in Crowborough – so we wanted to support the people here and we wanted to offer traditional care and attention to our families.”
She continues: “It was a really special time in the early days and it was so exciting when our phone started to ring! Even though we were both really experienced, I’ll admit that those first few funerals were nerve wracking. We are so very grateful to those families who supported us in the early days and put their trust in us and, of course, to everyone who has done so since.”
While the team at Tester & Jones has grown over the years, Glenys says that what she still likes the most about her job is supporting the families who walk through the door.
“I take pride in looking after people and working with them to make those all important arrangements for their loved one’s funeral,” she says. “I also take great pride in caring for the deceased and making them ready for a viewing, whether that’s brushing their hair or applying a little make-up.”
When she’s not at work, Glenys is Chairman of the fundraising committee of Crowborough and District Lions, which Stephen is also a member of, and when she has some spare time, it is taken up with her five granddaughters, going to the gym and travelling.
Back at work, Glenys is particularly proud of the Tester & Jones Bereavement Support Group.
“From the beginning, we told families that our door is always open for them and made them feel they could pop in and see us after the funeral; so we’d regularly get visitors for coffee and a chat,” she says. “But, I began to feel that we could be doing more to support them.”
So, plans came together for the Bereavement Support Group, which was initially held it at the Tester & Jones premises.
“It took off and we started getting up to 12 people,” she says. “However, I felt that for some people it was a struggle to come here – as it brought back memories of seeing their loved one’s for the last time – so we moved it to Barnsgate and that’s where we’ve been ever since.”
Glenys says she’s really proud of the group – which has grown to more than 90 people, while she also runs a smaller group, which meets at Millbrook Green Café once a month.
“We have an amazing group of people and it’s evolved so that existing members are fantastic at welcoming and supporting newer members,” she explains. “Some lovely friendships have developed; they comfort each other and offer support at times when it’s needed. We also have theatre trips to London, including to Sadler’s Wells to see ballets and each time we meet, I hear stories about how they’ve been to the cinema together between meetings or accompanied each other on hospital appointments.”