Funeral Directors Category: South East England
Carl Hadaway. Carl is well known in the local area, as he was formerly funeral director and manager of Earl & Co. Funeral Directors before the business changed hands and became part of a corporate chain. Carl left when the company was sold and went to work for a family firm in Deal, Kent, where he gained invaluable experience in seeing a funeral all the way through from start to finish.
Before becoming a funeral director, Carl had been a cremation technician, working at Barham Crematorium in Ashford, and Baring Crematorium in Canterbury, so he had good insight into the funeral director role before being headhunted by Earl & Co. He began his working life as a motor vehicle engineer and went on to work on aircraft for 15 years, so he has all round skills acquired from the different roles he has enjoyed. In his spare time, Carl loves to play backgammon and to read a good book when he has a chance. He enjoys crossfit and cycling, loves Blues music and good food, and tries to find time to explore art and history – many of these interests are shared with his partner Joanna Denton.
Jo is a musician who plays the piano, guitar and violin, as well as singing and writing her own material. She also plays for others, teaches individuals, and helps people share her passion for music. Jo is not only Carl’s partner outside of work, but also his business partner in Hadaway and Denton – she is co-director of the company and her role is that of funeral administrator and arranger. Jo also brings a wealth of experience to her role in the company; she was a music teacher for around 20 years and was the Director of Music at a local secondary school in Ashford before she and Carl decided to set up the company. She also has experience in administration in the finance sector, which, together with her natural focus and dedication and commitment in everything she does, ensure that every detail is attended to.
Jo’s experience of setting up her own music centre after school while Director of Music was particularly useful when it came to the challenges of setting up a new funeral business – in order to apply for the funding that enable disadvantaged students to attend the all-inclusive tuition for just £3 a week, she had to write a business plan and a funding proposal – both new skills that she successfully mastered, enabling many students from Dover, Sandwich and Deal to access the world of music tuition. Jo is a natural leader and is committed to sharing her talents and abilities as widely as possible, something that she found challenging working within arts in education, so when she and Carl met, it coincided with both of them feeling it was the right time for a change in their professional lives.
Over time and many conversations, the idea of working together in a funeral business dedicated to personal service and care began to take shape. They realised that their combined experience would enable them to create exactly the kind of funeral directors that they believe bereaved people deserve and need, and as there was no independent funeral company in Ashford town centre, they started looking for somewhere suitable.
Located on the corner of Upper Denmark Road and Whitfeld Road, Hadaway & Denton doesn’t look at all like a typical funeral director’s premises. A retail property that has housed a florist, an antique shop and a hardware store over the years, the building was completely refurbished by Carl and Jo when they took it on. They were determined to steer away from any sense of being dark and oppressive, and opted for bright warm colours to create a welcoming and comfortable feeling as soon as someone enters the door. The building has large frosted windows running all the way across the frontage, with bright blue paint trim and door and a bright yellow edge to the doorstep – a cheery, attractive exterior that reflects what is inside. Through the door, you step into a large spacious reception area that has a children’s corner with beanbags and activities, a comfortable seating area and a drinking station. To one side there is a circular table which can be used for making funeral arrangements in a more formal but still relaxed fashion. Large dividers screen the administration area from view, meaning that there is privacy for anyone in the building, whether visitor or staff. The chapel of rest is accessible from the reception area, and people who come to spend time with someone who has died are able to come and go from the seating area as they please.
It will be either Jo or Carl that you meet if you call into Hadaway & Denton, and if Carl’s not there when arrangements are made, you will definitely meet him before the day of the funeral. (You might meet also get to meet Rosie, their little dog who comes in to work some days). The arrangement meeting will be taken at your pace – Carl and Jo will listen carefully to what you need, and tailor their support accordingly with as much advice and guidance as you require. They will help to explore the type of funeral that will best serve you, the family and the person who has died, and that will fit in with any financial requirements.
Probably the best description of this lovely little business is that it’s personal. Jo and Carl are the two people who you will meet and be involved with if you appoint them, and they will be totally at your service. They go out of their way to help clients, and as owners of the business they have the freedom to do so in whichever way they see is needed. When Carl worked previously as an employee, he was constantly rushed and questioned about spending ‘too long’ with clients, so the freedom to allow clients as much time and support as they need is something that he cherishes now he runs his own company.
Many aspects of looking after a funeral are charged for individually by other funeral directors, for example delivering ashes back to a family after a cremation, delivering or collecting paperwork or personal effects, or additional administration involved in complex funerals. None of these are extra costs at Hadaway & Denton – Carl and Jo believe they have set their prices fairly and that their professional fee should include all of these elements. They definitely don’t want to be seen as a company that charges for every step or item, and they give their time freely and generously to help ensure every family feels fully supported.
The essence of Hadaway & Denton’s approach is to give each person who contacts them a personal and personable experience, from the moment the phone is answered to the final contact after the funeral has taken place, and sometimes beyond that.
Carl and Jo really value the fact that they can take time to listen to each client and work out their needs and their wishes and can then empathetically support each family to have the best funeral options for them. They always go at the pace of their clients, never rushing or harrying for decisions, and they like to support and give their time to each family, this is really important to both of them.
Hadaway & Denton offer financial options for people with limited means and appreciate that clients struggling with money need financial understanding and creative and intelligent advice. They are completely transparent in their pricing, and offer four different ‘Funeral Pathways’, ranging from a direct service with no ceremony (Pathway 4) through a simple funeral (Pathway 1), a personalised funeral (Pathway 2) or a horse drawn funeral (Pathway 3). Their prices are displayed and clearly explained on their website and in their premises – having done some research before opening the business, Jo and Carl discovered that nearly all respondents wanted to have some assurance of costs before actually speaking to a funeral director. Oh, and all of their Funeral Pathways include spending time in the chapel of rest with the person who has died if you want to, even the direct service.
It’s so refreshing to meet people who are looking at the funeral industry with fresh eyes and seeing what needs to be changed. Jo and Carl have tremendous reserves of experience that they have pooled to create the exact type of funeral business they felt was missing in the area. They did a lot of research beforehand, and have generously shared their findings in one of the blog posts on their website, describing the other companies in town, who owns them and what they have to offer to prospective clients.
Both Carl and Jo are highly professional, dedicated and exacting – traits that are ideal in the world of funeral directing – although they have high expectations only of themselves and their team (which has included both of Carl’s parents, Catherine and Barry, in the early days of the business). When it comes to the clients of Hadaway & Denton, the couple have endless patience and empathy, and a complete dedication to serving them in the best way they possibly can.
- Your first call will be answered by Carl or Jo. They keep the phones with them at all times.
- Home visits? – Yes, whatever suits you as the client best.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, just ask. Carl looks after everyone in Hadaway & Denton’s care, but if you want a female to care for your relative Jo is happy to do so and has been trained to Carl’s standards.
- Embalming? Not generally offered or even discussed, as Jo and Carl believe that unless embalming is necessary it shouldn’t be done. In situations where they consider it to be necessary, for example where a family wishes to spend prolonged time in the chapel of rest over an extended period, they will offer it and explain the reasons why, with compassion and grace.
- Ethnic / cultural specialism? Carl and Jo serve all ethnic groups and all cultures. They embrace diversity and listen to any cultural or religious requirements carefully, doing their own research if needed, and adapting their planning to incorporate any necessary details. The chapel of rest will always respectfully reflect the beliefs of the client, whether it be with ornaments or candles absent or present. Their website has a Nepali translation on the home page, as there is a large Nepalese community in Ashford, and the couple have experience serving Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, Catholic, Church of England and Baptist clients.
- Local celebrants – The couple have a range of good celebrants that they work with and pride themselves on making a good fit with clients by recommending the person they think will best meet the family’s needs.
- Vehicles – Mercedes hearse and limousines are regularly chosen by clients, but Hadaway & Denton can provide many other vehicles on request. Any vehicles hired in for clients are charged at cost, including horse-drawn carriages.
- Website – Lovely website that really reflects the company and Carl and Jo’s personalities and approach to their work. It’s clearly laid out, easy to navigate and really informative. The blog section is insightful and beautifully written. Prices clearly shown and explained.
- Client support – Excellent. Extremely personal service from start to finish and after the funeral is over there is an open invitation to all clients to pop in whenever they are in the area. Receipts for payments are sent with an enclosed heart made with hand-seeded paper and a message, and clients can be signposted to bereavement support groups or other services if needed.
- Money matters – Superb value for money for the personal service you will receive. The direct service they offer is priced at £1,100 for Hadaway & Denton’s services, including spending time in the chapel of rest up until the day of cremation. You choose the crematorium and add the appropriate fee (and doctors’ fees if necessary), an example is given on the website of a direct cremation at Medway Crematorium costing £1,410. The cost of Hadaway & Denton’s Simple Service is £1,595 plus third party costs, while the costs of their Personalised Service Package can be worked out using the price calculator and clear explanation of options on the website.
- Parking – One parking space right outside the premises, otherwise on street parking in the residential roads around.
Jo and Carl have combined their varied life experiences and their perception of the need for change in the funeral industry to create a funeral business that is embedded in the community where they live and work, one that serves the people of the area with compassion, understanding and generosity of spirit. The couple have instinctively made the premises warm and welcoming, and their ethos and approach to the clients they serve is just the same, they are genuinely lovely people who are well liked and well respected by their peers and their clients alike.
Carl and Jo are rightfully proud of what they have achieved since opening the doors for the first time in the summer of 2019 and the level of service they have been able to offer, but they are not complacent, they’re always looking at ways to progress or develop in order to better serve the community.
Hadaway & Denton is the exact type of funeral director that every town should have, a small, family owned, family orientated business that offers tremendous service at a really fair price. Their many 5* Google reviews reflect just how much clients appreciate their work. We’re delighted to include them among our GFG Recommended FDs.