Johanna Williamson. A Read more [...]
Funeral Directors Category: South East England
Johanna Williamson. Albany Funerals is a modern, progressive funeral directors, run by a brilliant, born-again funeral director. Before she opened Albany, Jo ran a care home. Her warmth and capability have ensured that her company has become well established in the area – a recent client told her that they had been recommended to use Albany by three different people. Word is getting out; people like what she does and the way that she does it.
Jo is incredibly nice, and we cannot imagine anyone not taking to her at once. No airs and graces here, just kindness and friendliness and good manners. She’s a class act, unusually intelligent and switched on, seeking to enrich her clients’ experience of creating a funeral. There’s nothing rigid in her thinking. She’s very happy to have found what it is that she really wants to do.
Jo opened her first funeral home in Maidstone almost a decade ago, and she hasn’t looked back. In 2018, after spending a long time looking for somewhere suitable, she opened a second home just outside Ashford, in a beautifully converted barn
Both Albany Funerals funeral homes are bright, well-lit, civilised and unusually tastefully decorated, painted in soft, neutral colours – the kind of places that really put you at your ease. It’s like walking into someone’s home. In both Maidstone and Ashford, the room in which you talk about funeral arrangements is furnished with sofas and armchairs, and this tells you that you have all the time you need. Both have lovely chapels of rest, spacious and serene, lit by lots of candles, and both have, of course, completely immaculate mortuaries.
When she’s not working, Jo likes to get involved in community activities. Jo is the governor of a local school and she serves on her Parish Council. She likes cycling with her children, walking, cooking and travelling.
Being part of the community of bereaved people is also important to Jo and her team, and they are proud of their growing bereavement support group, which meets every month. They’ve organised outings for their bereavement group and plan more for the future, and their annual remembrance event in memory of those who have died has outgrown its original home as so many people attend, whatever the weather. It’s clear that the care for their clients doesn’t just stop when the funeral is over, Albany is very much there for you for as long as you need them.
Jo will arrange exactly the funeral that you want. Albany are unique in the area in being perfectly able to provide either a completely traditional funeral, or a totally bespoke one. If it’s a traditional funeral that you want, you can be reassured that the turnout is as smart as it gets. And if you want a very personal, individual event then Jo will be able to offer you as many suggestions as you feel comfortable with. You’ll never be overwhelmed though, she’s exceptionally good at listening to people and understanding what they need from her.
Whatever type of funeral you want, it will probably be conducted by Matthew, or possibly Tim Holloway. Jo herself tends only to conduct the more modern funerals. Angela and Jim also conduct funerals. You’ll get to know whoever is conducting your funeral well before the day. If you want Albany’s bearers to carry the coffin, they only choose ones who look nice (you can choose your own, of course).
If you want a less formal funeral, Jo will talk you through the options and, of course, everyone will dress accordingly.
Jo is very much aware that people’s expectations of a funeral are changing. She recognises that there is a growing demand for funerals which reflect the personality and values of the person who died. She recognises that no two funerals are the same, so she is aware of the vital importance of listening very carefully to you and making sure the funeral you arrange is exactly as you want it. What makes her especially well qualified to do this is her intelligence and her humanity.
Jo had a life outside before coming in to funeral directing, so she looks at everything with fresh eyes. This makes her unusually flexible and open-minded. She is not a radical in any sense of the word, but she is very good at interpreting her clients’ needs and wishes, and she is very well informed. When it comes to discussing the range of choices available to you, you will find her full of suggestions and absolutely up to date. If you want to make financial provision for your own funeral, she will guide you through the options.
One special difference comes in the four legged form of Jo’s beautiful little dog, Lily Pickles – known as Pix to everyone. She’s like a living teddy bear, and loves nothing more than being stroked and cuddled. She has a future as a therapy dog for Albany, and if you’re a dog person and need some gentle affection from a pretty little canine while you’re talking about your plans for a funeral, she’ll come and sit with you, giving you the chance for some therapeutic calming stroking. (If you’re not a dog person, no worries, Pix will take herself elsewhere).
When you phone, your call will be answered by Jo, Angela, Matthew, Jim or Anisa.
Prices online here.
Direct cremation – Includes collection and care of the person who has died, all paperwork etc, cardboard coffin, doctors fees – from £1,500.
Simple early morning cremation – “Includes all our normal services, doctors and minister/celebrant fees and an ecological cardboard coffin, the difference is an earlier time at the crematorium and the coffin is waiting in the chapel before the start of the funeral. £2,795.”
Home Visits – Happy to come to your home to arrange the funeral.
Embalming – Mostly, she doesn’t but, if you want it, she’ll explain what’s involved and let you decide.
Continuity of Care – Either Jo, Anisa, Jim or Angela will look after you throughout and you’ll meet whoever is conducting the funeral before the day.
Family Participation – If you’d like to come in and wash and dress the person who has died then your Albany person will be there for you, to help you or leave you to it.
Same sex person to wash and dress – yes: just let them know.
Ethnic Specialism – Jo and her team are experienced in arranging funerals according to a wide range of customs.
Local Celebrants – Good relationships with local clergy. If you want a secular celebrant, there are a number on their books. Jo is incredibly careful about who she recommends, and you’ll be offered a booklet with all the local celebrants and personal statements to help you make up your mind.
DIY Funerals – If you want to handle some or all parts of the funeral yourself, you can buy in the services you need separately. Jo will be very happy to support you in any way you wish her to.
Website – Lovely, comprehensive website with a downloadable full price list.
Bereavement support – A support group meets monthly for those who want it. Very popular and a great success.
Parking – There is off-street parking on the forecourt of the funeral home in Maidstone, and plenty of parking at the barn in Ashford.
Jo does not conform in any way to the gloomy caricature of the funeral director, you’ll not be surprised to hear, and nor does her funeral home. She and her staff are bright, normal, businesslike, kind and absolutely genuine. We think the team at Albany will look after you well, in the way you’d like to be looked after. You’ll be able to create a fine and appropriate send-off at a price that will reflect what we reckon to be very good value for money.
Any decisions you take on engaging the services of a funeral director should be based on your views and research. You should not rely solely upon the views and opinions offered by us.