Matthew Gallagher: A joyful life remembered

Matthew Gallagher

It is with deep sadness we announce the sudden death of a leading SAIF member, Matthew Gallagher, on Sunday 29 December 2019 in the Critical Care Unit of Kings Cross Hospital, London.

Matthew suffered a cardiac arrest the evening before and passed away, with his parents, Pat and Sandy Gallagher (past President of SAIF and past Chairman of the IFD College), and his partner Lajos beside him.

Matthew was a leading light as a Governor of the IFD College, an Executive Committee member of SAIFCharter and most significantly pivotal in P&S Gallagher Family Funeral Directors with his parents and our past President Paul Bowley and wife Davina.

We are grateful for Matthew’s impact on our lives, for all he has meant to us and continues to do so.

SAIF’s President, Fellows, Officers, the National Executive Committee, staff and the IFD College, alongside SAIFCharter and Golden Charter, extend their deepest sympathy to Matthew’s family, friends and colleagues.

As a director of Sussex Family Funeral Directors, who own and operate P & S Gallagher Funeral Directors, Matthew had been instrumental in developing the business over the last few years expanding the company into Brighton and refurbishing and renovating all the premises throughout the company.

He brought a refreshing and different insight to how modern day funeral directors’ premises should look and feel – his vision has certainly left its mark within the family business, with bright modern facilities using colour and furnishings that complement their buildings.

Matthew’s demands and determination with his fellow directors and contractors alike have been shown to be the way forward and it is his vision and creativity that will become his long-lasting legacy for the business.

Pat & Sandy, Matthew’s parents, have received more than 280 cards and letters of sympathy together with many emails, text and Facebook messages. All have the same overriding feeling running through them: “When Matthew entered a room a light came on, and he would lighten any dark corner with his big beaming smile, his biggest hugs and his uncanny way of making everyone feel so special.”

Matthew was also a valued member and part of the governing body in the Independent Funeral Directors College, joining in 2007, bringing the experience from an educational background in his previous career. His paramount vision was for the future of the college, training as an assessor and then verifier, two very valuable positions within the education arm of the profession.

Chris Parker, Chair of the college, said at Matthew’s funeral: “His clear thinking would cut straight to the heart of any issue and his ability to find something good in every student’s work, sometimes when nobody else could, was quite remarkable.”

He was also a staunch supporter and very valuable member of SAIFCharter, sitting on the Executive and chairing one of the committees, and a qualified member of ICCM as the cemetery registrar of two cemeteries locally.

He firmly believed this to be a way forward in ensuring the future of many family funeral businesses and worked tirelessly in promoting this throughout the UK, attending and presenting at regional and national meetings the benefits of such membership.

He had become a central figure around whom SAIFCharter opinions would form and develop.

Gordon Swan at Golden Charter said: “As ever with Matthew, he was never anonymous and everyone knew when he was in the building, and what a great ambassador for funeral directors he had become.

“He was energetic, always enthusiastic and above all he maintained a sense of fun and reason. The Executive is diminished by his untimely passing.”

Matthew will be very sadly missed by his parents, members of the family business, his family and friends gathered from around the world, his fellow professionals and, of course, the families both he and the family business served over many years.

His funeral took place on 18 January at Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield, West Sussex, with more than 600 people attending a wonderful musical and uplifting celebration of Matthew’s life. He would have been humbled but also grateful to everyone for making such great efforts to attend.

Matthew’s legacy is love in his life-long friendships. He was proud of us all, knowing goodness will guide us, if love is inside us.

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