O’Dwyer Funeral Direc Read more [...]
Funeral Directors Category: London
O’Dwyer Funeral Directors is a first generation business and proud of it. It belongs to Don O’Dwyer, and it is Don and his small team of colleagues, Anthea, Alan, Stuart and Claudette who will look after you and your family and who will care for the person who has died.
We visited the premises in Little Ealing Lane for the first time just two weeks after the doors opened, and a few days before the official opening. Despite Don obviously having a list of things to do as long as his arm, including three funerals to carry out before his Open Day, there was no sense of us being in the way or inconveniencing him at all. He has a relaxed and easy manner and more than a touch of Irish charm, which has led to him being well known and well liked in the area during the years he worked for a large funeral company locally.
The decision to branch out on his own came suddenly, having spent ten years working day in and day out for a funeral director business, Don was on holiday with his family when an epiphany moment arrived and he decided it was time to set up his own. There had been a number of things that he hadn’t felt happy with working for a large company, and he decided to throw everything he had into doing it the way that he felt was right.
From that moment, things fell into place in an almost miraculous fashion – he found the premises completely by chance, in an area he knows well. It had recently been converted to be suitable for a funeral director business so the infrastructure was all in place, including the essential rear access and the space at the back for vehicles to be garaged and coffins to be stored. The interior had been set up with a small arranging room, an office and two chapels of rest, behind the scenes there is plenty of space for washing and dressing deceased, room for a large fridge and even a small workshop area. It was ideal, and it was available at just the right time.
Soon after acquiring the keys in July 2016, Don equipped the premises with an Eco-friendly mortuary and also acquired a classical 1983 Daimler DS hearse. He bought a Mercedes Vito to use as a collection vehicle, with a purpose built deck to ensure the safe transportation of people back to his premises. He added pictures and furnishings, and dressed the window in a traditional yet classy style.
The clientele in the area is a very mixed demographic, and Don is keen to ensure that everybody feels comfortable walking in through his front door – there are no blinds or curtains concealing the inside from passers by, the premises are light and airy and recently decorated. “Let some light in,” says Don, “It doesn’t have to be dark and dreary. I hate all of that. My premises are a reflection of me, bright colours with a warm and welcoming relaxing environment. I’ve had many years experience of dealing with people from all backgrounds, and everyone is welcome in my home; I want this funeral home to be exactly the same.”
Don is definitely a people person, and is committed to providing everyone with a truly personal service. Clients all have his mobile number and can call him directly whenever they need to. No matter where he is or what he is doing, he knows what is going on with each funeral and will deal with any queries himself if need be.
As the business has grown and become established, Anthea Barrett has taken on responsibility for the funerals at Little Ealing Lane and her role has become more that of office manager. Anthea is happy to conduct funerals as well as arrange them, and Claudette Fowley, the most recent addition to the team will probably have a similar role.
Don is a proud signatory to the Quaker Social Action Extended Fair Funeral Pledge, and has always had his prices clearly displayed online. He believes it’s essential for clients to be able to see his costs freely and transparently, and is very conscious of the influence that the internet is having on customer behavior. His website is reflective of this, clean and undaunting, with information easy to find.
In days gone by, Don trained as a professional racing driver, and he had experience of life outside the world of funerals running various other businesses, but when he started working for a funeral director he found his true calling. His dedication to his work was apparent when he was an employee, but now he is running his own business this dedication has become an utter determination to do the job to the highest possible standard. “This is my life, I’m putting everything into it,” he said. “The whole reason behind me starting this business was to deal with each family myself. Every family will only deal with me or Anthea at all times, there will be none of the getting a different person each time you call who knows nothing about you. I offer the same – if not better – service than any of your high street big names offer. And remember people, advice is free”
It is Don who will go and collect the person who has died himself, usually with Stuart Meskill, who works closely with Don as part of the small team. Don is well known to the staff of nursing homes in the area, and friendly with many of the clergy and celebrants, so although the business itself is still a young one, its connections and Don’s knowledge and experience are anything but. Anthea also assists with collections, while Don\’s brother Alan has joined him in the business and is in charge of the rear of house operations.
Don is determined to offer a bespoke, quality, fairly priced service to each of his clients, no matter who they are or what kind of funeral they want. While many families from the area choose Don to look after traditional Irish or West Indian funerals, he and Anthea are equally capable of organising less traditional ceremonies. Don wears traditional top hat and tails as a matter of course, but would be happy to wear alternative attire if a family wanted – he seamlessly blends the traditional and the modern in his approach to the business, and dressing the part is just one aspect of this.
Personal service is the essence of this business. Don is passionate about being there for each family he serves and giving them the best experience they could have at a time of sadness. He really wants to let people know that there is an alternative to the traditional ‘fuddy-duddy’ undertaker, that there are fresh, intelligent and experienced people available who understand that the needs of the customer come first every time, not the needs of the business.
We hadn’t ever visited and accredited such a new business, but we felt confident in doing so with O’Dwyer Funerals because of the dedication and determination of its owner.
Don is clearly a man with a vision and great passion, and he has invested everything he has, emotionally, mentally and financially, in taking the plunge of setting up his own business to get back to his roots and put clients first. His wife and two growing girls are depending on his vision becoming a success – we are convinced that he has everything he needs to make it work.
- Prices here.
- Your first call will be usually be answered by Don O’Dwyer or Anthea Barrett. If they are busy you may speak to Claudette Fowley or Stuart Meskill, or Don\’s brother Alan. If it is out of hours and Don is tied up with something, you might speak to his wife Ansonet O’Dwyer. If you don’t reach him first, Don will call you straight back as soon as he can.
- Direct cremation £2,247 with cremation fee included. Simplest funeral £2,500.00 exclusive of third-party costs. Includes collection of the person who has died, arranging and delivering all paperwork + suitable coffin. Service early morning.
- Home visits – Absolutely. Or any other location that suits.
- Family participation – Absolutely yes – this is positively encouraged. As much participation as you want.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, no problem, Don\’s has both men and women in the team.
- Embalming – Only if required, and if Don think it may be preferable he will discuss this with you beforehand.
- Ethnic specialism – With around 15 years working in funerals in the West London area Don has experience of all cultures and backgrounds.
- Home arranged funerals – Yes, Don is happy to work with families who just need a little assistance, and is keen to encourage people to be involved with the funeral. “The more involvement a family has, the better value for money they will receive.”
- Local celebrants – Don knows a handful of down to earth decent celebrants who he will suggest to families, knowing they will look after the families as well as he does himself.
- Website – Recently updated and improved, including downloads of their Bereavement Guide and Funeral Wishes form.
- Client support – Totally supportive. You will deal with Don and Anthea all the way through, and now the second branch is open in Kilburn Lane, Claudette will provide the same level of support there.
- Money matters – Very good value. Prices are online and clearly outlined.
- Parking – Available on local roads – look out for the time restrictions though. Some roads are residents only parking between 9.00 and 10.00, others between 10.00 and 11.00.
After our initial visit we wrote: It is a pleasure to see so much passion and determination to get it right, and we are in no doubt that Don will manage to make a great success in his new premises. He is smart and switched on to the changing world of funerals, and keen to move with the times and provide the best possible service. He is receptive to suggestions too, and is considering some of the things we discussed about getting publicity locally and changing the funeral plan provider he initially picked. We will be popping in for a coffee regularly and watching the business grow, as it undoubtedly will – it is exciting to see such a promising new funeral company so soon after it came into existence, and we have no doubt that it will become a much loved and valued part of the community in this part of town.
When we re-visited O\’Dwyer Funeral Directors in 2021, it was clear that our original assessment had proved right. The company is now firmly established, and many hundreds of local people have chosen Don to look after their relatives\’ funerals. Some return for a second or third time when other family members have died, a tribute to the level of service that they received from Don and his colleagues.
It was a pleasure to be invited to go and see the second branch of O\’Dwyer Funeral Directors shortly after it opened its doors for the first time in March 2022. The small premises on Kilburn Lane mean that local people now don\’t need to travel to Ealing if they choose Don\’s company to look after their person\’s funeral, and they can spend time with the coffin in the chapel of rest much closer to home. While the premises are much smaller than those in Ealing, with a small reception area, a chapel of rest and an office at the rear, the decor is fresh and smart and the furnishings are a similar quality. Don has installed separate air conditioning and heating units to ensure that the chapel of rest can be kept cool enough for a coffin to stay for a few days while the rest of the building remains a comfortable temperature.
Located just a few minutes from Queens Park tube and rail station, O\’Dwyer\’s in Kilburn Lane is the only independently owned funeral business in an area dominated by large corporate companies. We expect that when we go back again in a few years time, the Kilburn Lane branch will have become as well established as its older sister branch in Ealing.
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.