Funeral Director/s: R Read more [...]
Funeral Directors Category: London
Ray Barnes – this is his business, founded in 1999, although Ray’s family have been funeral directors in the area for the last century. Barnes and Hicks have two branches, one in Shepherds Bush and the other in Hounslow.
Ray started working in the family business in 1991, and qualified as a funeral director in 1996, gaining honours in his Diploma. When the older generation came to retiring, the business was so well established and large that it was impossible for Ray to take it over, and reluctantly it was sold to a large local company, which continues to trade using the well know Barnes family local name. (This inevitably can confuse people looking for Ray, as there is a branch of a very similar name just over the road in Askew Road!)
When the family business was sold, Ray chose not to go with it, he wanted to continue serving the community of West London as an independent family funeral director, so he made the decision to create his own undertaking company. Well known and highly respected in the area, Ray’s new venture quickly became established, and Barnes and Hicks continues to be run as a small independent business with a completely personal service offered to every family.
Charming, friendly and courteous, Ray has a knack of instantly making you feel at ease. He has the confidence of a highly competent, knowledgeable and very experienced funeral director, but no fancy airs or graces, he’s down to earth and normal. You just get the sense immediately that this is a man who is completely dedicated to his work and to serving the families who come to him for his help in organising funerals.
Ray is a rare creature, a thoroughly traditional funeral director who has a completely open and modern approach. He is one of the kindest people you’ll meet, and this kindness is not reserved for clients who have been bereaved, he extends it to help others who are getting started in the world of funerals. He’ll always help anyone who asks him if he sees that they are genuinely in need of assistance, and when we visited Barnes and Hicks there were arrangements in place with two small new companies who were just getting established to have access to the exceptionally well set up Barnes and Hicks facilities, the mortuary space and refrigeration.
He is ably supported by the fabulous Angie, his partner and soon to be wife. Angie previously worked in the Register Office, where her work became more and more pressurised as funding cuts and management issues combined, leading to her deciding to leave and join Ray’s small team. Angie is based at Askew Road, where she deals with all aspects of funerals other than actually conducting them. She was born and brought up in the area and she knows many of the local residents and their families, so it is rare to find Angie on her own in the branch, people are always calling in for a chat and a cup of tea as they pass.
Ray too is a well-known local figure, and a five-minute errand will usually take him 30 minutes or more as people stop him to talk as he walks down the road. This is just how funeral directors used to be before the funeral industry became corporatised and impersonal, people from the local community who care for families they have personally known for generations. This traditional way of doing things comes completely naturally to Ray and is very much his way of being. For him, being part of the community that he serves is incredibly important, and treating everyone as equal no matter who they are comes naturally. Ray is someone who believes very much in community, and he works hard to help raise money for charities close to his heart.
The Askew Road branch is the larger and busier of the two branches, while the Hounslow branch is more compact. Both have a familiar comfortable traditional feel to them and fit in with the community around them, and they both have the traditional clock in the window. At Askew Road there are sofas in the reception area where you can wait if Angie is busy with another family or on the phone, at Hounslow there is a smaller area that leads on to the chapel of rest with a door to the side that opens into the office area. Askew Road has a room with a selection of coffins so clients can see and touch the different types available before deciding which one to choose.
The two branches of Barnes and Hicks are around eight miles apart, and between them is the mortuary facility that serves both, at Set Star Estate. This is where people who have died will be taken to, and it is impeccably run to the highest standards, as you would expect from someone who prides themselves on every aspect of their work. Chris is in charge of the mortuary and this is where the rest of Ray’s team are based. The Jaguar vehicles are garaged here, and the upstairs area has been fitted out with a large kitchen, changing rooms, rest room and shower for the staff.
Proper quality undertaking, to very high standards, from a man whose company reflects his values. Ray knows pretty much everything there is to know about funeral directing, and he sees his role as both supportive and advisory – he listens to what families tell him, and then tells them what’s available and how they can achieve what they want.
Many clients of Barnes and Hicks want church services or religious ceremonies, and Ray is well known to all the local clergy and faith leaders. Barnes and Hicks also carry out a lot of funerals for the West Indian community
Serving the community in which they live and work. This might sound old fashioned and a bit corny, but it really is the essence of this company. Ray sees his role as being there to help all of the families who choose Barnes and Hicks get the funeral ceremony that they need, and his experience, kindness and knowledge all play a part in achieving this goal.
It’s not a different thing for the owner of a small and successful funeral business to be so thoroughly involved with each funeral, it’s the way that funerals used to be for generations back, but in the rapidly changing funeral sector where large concerns run many of the smaller branches, it is becoming more and more difficult to find the owner of the company answering the phone or sitting at the back of the church during a funeral ceremony.
- Your first callwill be answered by Angie at Askew Road, or Ethel at Hounslow, or Ray if he’s nearest the phone in either branch. Out of hours it will be one of the key staff.
- Home visits? – Yes of course if this is what you’d prefer.
- Same sex person to wash and dress?Yes, just ask.
- Embalming?Ray is an advocate of embalming and encourages it where clients want to spend time with the person who has died.
- Ethnic / cultural specialism? Working in a richly diverse area of West London, Barnes and Hicks are familiar with serving clients from all cultures and ethnicities and work to individual requirements and beliefs.
- Local celebrants – Ray can recommend celebrants who he feels will be suitable – he sits in on every funeral ceremony and observes the delivery, and has a good knowledge of all the celebrants who have worked for his clients.
- Vehicles– a fleet of Jaguars – lovingly cared for and beautifully presented.
- Website– Awaiting update, including pricing online.
- Client support – Exceptional throughout and after the funeral ceremony has taken place. Ray contacts clients the day after the funeral to make sure that everything was ok, and he is a qualified bereavement counsellor who utilises his skills throughout his work.
- Money matters – Good value, high quality.
- Parking– on street parking, find a space locally.
Ray Barnes is one of the good guys, a traditional, kind, highly qualified and experienced funeral director with a lovely manner and a determination to do the absolute best for all of his clients. He is well known and well liked, by the community he lives and works in, by his peers in the world of funerals – in fact by everyone. His business reflects his values, he sees his role as one of service, and he works hard to ensure that not only does every family feel that they have had the best possible experience, but he also helps and mentors others who are following him into undertaking as a vocation. He is an accredited trainer with the London Association of Funeral Directors, and he is passionate about his life’s work. We like him a lot!