Gareth Coles, the man Read more [...]
Funeral Directors Category: Wales
Gareth Coles, the managing director and the inspirational heart of Coles Funeral Directors is the founder of the business, and is ably supported by his wife Francesca who is Head of Communications, and fellow funeral directors Steven Long and Angela Thomas. Alongside them is a team of exceptionally well trained and highly skilled people led by Claire Robertson, the office manager and Steve Dwyer, the team leader, all focused on ensuring that you receive the most professional and personal service possible. Gareth’s brother Alex is part of the business too, and there is a strong family feeling in the tight knit team that Gareth leads.
Coles Funeral Directors is one of the last remaining family run funeral directors in Cardiff, most of the other companies are owned by the large conglomerates, Co-operative Funeralcare or Dignity (although many retain their original names). However, it’s not simply being independently owned that makes this company exceptional. The drive and dedication and leadership that Gareth has poured into his business is evident and ongoing, and it is paying dividends in the rapidly growing reputation for excellence that this lovely funeral company is enjoying.
Gareth started a part time job driving as a chauffeur / bearer for a small carriage master’s business while he was at university, and this gave him the opportunity to see many funeral homes in the Cardiff area. He quickly realised that there was potential to offer families a much better service, and at the age of 25 he took the risky decision to buy an existing funeral home, with very limited funds. In the years since, he has transformed the business into one of the finest, most innovative and professional funeral directors we’ve seen, and Coles now have three funeral homes serving the people of Cardiff and the surrounding areas.
Gareth is an absolute perfectionist, and this shows in every aspect of the company; the care and support that is offered to every family, the calibre of the staff and the training that they receive, the ultra-modern, contemporary premises, the systems and processes that are in place behind the scenes that underpin the smooth running of the business and the forward-looking approach that ensures that Coles is always looking to improve their service to their community.
The premises of the old Rumney Funeral Home have been transformed into a bright, light and modern space that is totally unlike a traditional funeral home. Gareth intuitively understands the importance of calming colours, soft lighting and comfortable furnishings and wanted to ensure that clients felt welcomed and at ease when they enter this funeral home. Tastefully decorated and furnished, the small former shop has been renovated to make the best possible use of limited space, with an open reception area where Claire manages the day to day running of the business leading into a private arrangement room with comfortable chairs and large windows, partly frosted for privacy, spilling daylight into the room.
Beyond the reception area a small corridor leads to two chapels of rest, both decorated in the same modern, attractive style with large wooden doors that ensure privacy and quiet for families spending time with the person who has died. Further back there is a cold room and a small kitchen area leading to the rear entrance, outside which the staff clean and polish the cars inside and out before every funeral.
The second branch of Coles opened in Birchgrove in 2019, with a third branch opening in Llandaff in 2021. Both premises are beautifully furnished and decorated, offering clients attractive and stylish surroundings which immediately make you feel reassured and at ease. The detail and care that has gone into making the Coles premises so pleasant are not just ‘window dressing’, this attention is indicative of the values that Gareth has in everything he and his team do.
The premises have been carefully designed to maximise space for families, meaning that the operational side of the business is carried out elsewhere – a short distance away is a large unit that Gareth bought some years ago and invested a vast amount of money in to set it up as a state of the art centre to his business.
Looking ahead, he realised that having a central base to provide mortuary facilities along with administration, office space, staff training, storage and garaging for the vehicles would enable him to expand Coles Funeral Directors’ presence better. The premises where families come to discuss funeral arrangements and spend time with their relative in the chapel need to be local and easily accessible and not necessarily particularly large, whereas the operational space for a growing business needs to be able to expand as the numbers of families choosing to use them increases.
It is clear that Gareth has planned everything in the greatest detail and invested a great deal in getting it absolutely right. When he bought the unit, it was just a vast space with no facilities at all, now there are fully equipped offices, garaging and storage and a large, impeccably clean and tidy preparation area where the deceased are cared for. A big cold room provides additional space for the deceased to rest if they are staying in Coles’ care for a longer period of time, although generally once a person has been placed in their coffin they will be looked after back at the branch where the funeral was arranged, and from where the funeral will set out.
The staff practice their funeral roles here every day too – under the supervision of either Gareth or Steve, the team of pall bearers rehearse their exact moves daily, so that everything they do in the public eye has been practiced and polished. This level of detail is extraordinary, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by families – here’s a testimonial left on their Facebook page;
‘You expect a funeral company to offer a good, general and dignified service, but it was the small details which impressed us and calmed us as a family. James in particular shone with his thoughtful, warm actions and empathetic manner. They are a small company, but you certainly receive the personal touch, which means so much at a difficult time.’
What stands out about Coles Funeral Directors is the emotional intelligence and professionalism of everyone involved. This must be directly attributed to Gareth’s vision and leadership, and his determination to provide families from across the Cardiff area with the best service possible, to which end he has invested everything in getting the best people to work with him, and continuing their ongoing personal development and training.
The staff are well supported and valued, and this results in a loyal, dedicated and caring team who are determined to do their best for the families they serve. Coles Funeral Directors has attained the internationally acclaimed Investors in People standard, the mark of a great employer, an outperforming place to work and a clear commitment to sustainability.
Behind the scenes, the systems in place are extensive, worthy of a much bigger organisation in their scope and depth and illustrating the typical attention to every single detail that makes these funeral directors stand out from all the rest in the area.
Gareth and his team are entirely focused on providing the best possible service for each family they serve. Their aim is to help you make the right decisions for you and your family, and to give you peace of mind through supporting you, paying attention to detail and listening to what you want from them.
The Coles Funeral Directors’ Values are ‘Professional, Caring, Innovative and Community Focused’ and these values run throughout everything that they do. They believe that every funeral should be unique, the perfect reflection of the life that has been led, and they are completely flexible and transparent, offering a full range of choices and services that can accommodate every family’s needs and budgets.
Unlike so many ‘traditional’ funeral directors, Coles are constantly looking to improve their service. They have a fresh, contemporary approach to their work, using a range of innovative technologies to support families throughout their contact with them, and they are actively seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and provide a sustainable service, with a developing specialty in green and natural funerals.
Coles make good use of social media as a way of reaching the public, and they are working to develop their website into an information hub that can signpost people towards services they may need.
The company has a strong sense of community, and actively fundraises and supports many charities and youth groups as well as working closely with the best local tradespeople, businesses and suppliers when helping you create the funeral service for your relative.
At Birchgrove, Coles have created a dedicated community space upstairs, the Bereavement Hub, where a range of free to access bereavement support is available free of charge, including free counselling. Everyone is welcome, and there is a free to use meeting space which can be booked by groups, organisations or individuals.
They run an education programme at Coles too, and work closely with local schools bringing the subject of death into the classroom. Groups of Year 6 pupils have visited Coles premises, been shown around and met with a funeral director, who happily answered all their questions. The pandemic interrupted the programme, but school visits are set to resume in 2022.
- Your first call will be answered by one of the team – see who’s who here.
- Home visits – yes, they will visit you at any address at your request or you can make the arrangements at their premises.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, just ask.
- Embalming? This is offered if families want to spend time with the person who has died, but is entirely the choice of the family, and not enforced. Every person brought into the care of Coles Funeral Directors is bathed and has their hair washed before being dressed either in their own clothes or in a gown provided.
- Ethnic specialism? Coles offer their services to all in the community including Sikh and Muslim families who have been able to use the superb facilities in the operation centre to carry out their ritual washing ceremonies.
- Home arranged funerals – absolutely, if you need support to look after someone at home then contact them for advice and support.
- Local celebrants – Coles have established long standing relationships with a broad range of officiants and celebrants and are adept at assessing which celebrant would meet the requirements of a particular family.
- Vehicle – traditional fleet of hearse and limousines which are kept in excellent condition and highly polished inside and out before every funeral.
- Website – Lovely, clear website that really reflects the ethos and values of the company. Easy to navigate, informative blog posts and lots of information simply laid out.
- Client support – Nothing is more important to the team at Coles than ensuring each client is fully supported throughout their contact with the company. Very personal, dedicated service throughout.
- Money matters – Prices are completely transparent and simple. Clearly laid out on the website and easy to understand. Details here.
- Direct Cremation – Coles can provide a direct cremation if this is your preference.
- Parking – Outside premises and on residential roads nearby.
One of the best examples of a small funeral directors, Coles is an outward looking, exciting and innovative business with exceptional service to bereaved people at its sole motivation.
Gareth is an inspirational leader who is determined to keep improving the service his company offers, and somehow combines developing his successful business with his growing young family (he and Francesca have two young daughters). A charming, dedicated man with a quiet, easy manner, it is clear to see how he has attracted some of the best people to work with him.
The company has been recognised for their commitment to their work, winning a number of awards – you can read about these on their News page on the website. Coles were named Family Business of the Year in the 2020 Cardiff Business Awards, which made particular note of their Education Programme
One of the many positive comments and reviews on the company Facebook page demonstrates just how much the Coles way of doing things is appreciated;
“Steven was amazing through the whole process. Hand held me through organising a funeral for the first time. Keeping me up to date every step of the way. We didn’t have much money to spend but that didn’t change the way we were treated. Absolutely top class service, took all of the stress out of what would otherwise be a very stressful situation. Would highly recommend.”
If you are looking for an exceptionally good funeral director who will care for you and your family unwaveringly, you won’t find a better one than Coles in this part of the world.
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.