Clive’s great undertaking
14 September, 2017 — By John Gulliver
Clive Leverton at the Good Funeral Awards ceremony
HE wasn’t what I expected. Before I picked up the phone I imagined a sombre man, perhaps a little one-dimensional, given to much quiet reflection. And then, within minutes of talking to 73-year-old Clive Leverton, it was difficult not to be swept along by his humour and a genuine feeling of wanting to help people.
If you trace back his life to his younger days, it all makes sense – and would explain why it culminated the other week in his reaching the pinnacle of his profession – the Lifetime Award for the Good Funeral Awards of 2017.
Born in Hampstead Garden Suburb during the Second World War, Clive left his secondary school in Cricklewood at 15 – “I wasn’t the scholastic type” – and joined his family’s undertaking business founded in 1789. He was part of the eighth generation of Levertons. Quite an act to follow.
It may all seem a long time ago but he remembers quite clearly how religious he felt in his mid-teens, along the Baptist tradition, and wanted to leave the firm and serve as a missionary abroad.
Somehow the feeling abated slightly during his apprenticeship in undertaking but his need to help people especially in their bereavement when they are at their lowest point remains with him. The words flow naturally from him. “I feel the need to help them remove some of the burden from their shoulders,” he said.
Typically, he is involved with several charities and has chaired the St Pancras Welfare Trust for 20 years, which provides grants to local residents in Camden.
As the key figure at Levertons for many years, before his retirement three years ago, he saw the firm appointed by the Royal household, carrying out funerals for the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret and playing a part in the funeral of Princess Diana.
Though I caught him at home yesterday (Wednesday) he still spends time at the office, and helped to pioneer Britain’s first all-electric hearse four years ago – an innovation that won Levertons the Most-Eco-friendly Funeral Director Award this year.