A Tauranga couple is offering to give away a funeral casket to four grieving families as their way of giving back to the community.
Nikki Roberts and Ben McCreedy, who have been business and life partners for five years, own the Reflections Funeral Directors and Advisors Services in Bethlehem.
McCreedy said he and Roberts had collectively been working in the industry for more than 35 years, and both have national and international qualifications, including in embalming.
The couple's skills came to the fore during the Christchurch earthquake tragedies.
He said they decided late last year to launch their own business and took over the lease of a former jewellery store site in the Bethlehem shopping centre in December.
"We intended starting major renovations in late February but we had some difficulty in finding an available contractor and then the Covid-19 lockdown happened in March, which significantly delayed our renovations plans.
"We were out of action for six weeks because of the Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings which included funeral services... We only re-opened at the beginning of July."
Roberts said it was a "very scary" time for funeral directors as initially no one really knew how the virus was spread and embalming services were put on hold.
She said during the lockdown process their suppliers were "very understanding" and showed such great goodwill to them during a difficult financial period.
"We have also been absolutely blown away by the local community's support."
McCreedy said their giveaway to four families involves a range of caskets from a solid pine white-painted to a rimu veneer casket with each casket retailing at about $2000.
"We just want to do something meaningful to help ease the financial burden on those families during a time of significant grief.
"This is our way of paying it forward in recognition of those who have helped and supported us.
He said anyone who wished to take up their offer can approach them in strict confidence.
"As business owners, and parents of two young girls, family values are paramount to us, and each family we help will be cared for as if they are part of our own.
"This is not about us, it's about other people's stories and we felt we wanted to give back to the local community which has helped and embraced us."
Call Nikki Roberts or Ben McCreedy at Reflections on 07 220 8855.