Not one but two national treasures supported the opening of a funeral directors in Beaconsfield, describing it as a “special” business in a “beautiful” location.

Debbie McGee, the widow of magician Paul Daniels, and Anita Harris, of the Cliff Adams Singers and the Carry On films, whose husband passed away earlier this year, both helped to open the new branch of Morse Funeral Services in Beaconsfield today (September 1).

The seemingly unorthodox stop was in support of their mutual friend Paul Morse, a veteran of the theatre whom both Debbie and Anita have known for over a decade and who helped them through the loss of their respective husbands, providing emotional support and facilitating the funeral arrangements.

Paul worked for a large funeral director company in Ealing for twenty years while also touring with several theatre productions, where he met both Debbie and Anita, and said he had become disillusioned with the impersonal approach offered by the company when he made the decision to break free and create his own bespoke business, Morse Funeral Services, in 2019.

He helped Debbie organise the funeral of her husband Paul back in 2016, after also taking the helm after the deaths of her father and mother-in-law just months after the two first crossed paths.

Debbie said that even before launching his own business, it was clear to her that Paul was the perfect person to handle the delicate proceedings.

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“He is so compassionate – he has this amazing kind of empathy, and you just trust that he will take care of the person you loved.

“When you’re organising a funeral, you can’t think straight because you’re so full of grief, and Paul has this calming effect. He’s a really warm person.”

She added that she thought it was “amazing” that the business, which was originally based in Iver, had now expanded to Beaconsfield High Street.

“I know the area well – I got married in Beaconsfield and I lived in Denham for years. I love this town, it’s so beautiful.”

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Anita Harris, whose husband Mike Margolis, sadly passed away just a few months ago in May 2023, also credited Paul for putting together a “perfect” funeral that was “exactly how he would have wanted it”.

“My darling husband died in my arms at around 3 o’clock in the morning, and what was wonderful was that Paul was there, on the other end of the phone, all through the night and at the house at 6 o’clock.

“He's in the theatre and the funeral business because he’s a people person – he is able to cross that line with total respect for whoever is in front of him. To know somebody like Paul, you just want to spread the message to everybody.”

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Paul added that Anita had been nervous about Mike’s funeral, thinking it would be “in a stale crematorium” so he made plans to hold it in the GreenAcres Chiltern woodland, with decorations and music that tried to “capture the essence” of who he was a person.

“The lovely thing is that families from all walks of life have come back to us and said, ‘Everyone says this is the best funeral they’ve ever been to’, and so-and-so, whoever has passed away, would have loved it.

“It’s important that people will always be able to get through to me personally on the phone and we always talk through people’s financial options and how we can create a bespoke funeral that really pays tribute to the person within whatever budget they have." 

Paul still takes part in Christmas pantomime productions in Reading and said there is, in fact, a line to be drawn between his two seemingly divergent roles in the entertainment and funeral care industries. 

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“I think both can bring joy to people’s lives – and I think performers can get to people very quickly and make them feel comfortable, which is a great asset and skill to have.”

He added that Beaconsfield as a location for the business’s second branch came about due to his love of the town’s high street, which is “predominantly made up of independent businesses”.

“I feel like we fit the area. We’ve already had a lot of people come in and say, ‘Actually, we really need someone like you’. I’m thrilled to be here.”