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 who will look after you and your family, and Don who will care for the person who has died.
We visited the premises just two weeks after the doors opened for the first time, and a few days before the official opening of the newest funeral directors in town. 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, and very recently – having spent ten years working day in and day out for a funeral director business, Don was on holiday when the 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 have fallen into place in an almost miraculous fashion – he found the premises completely by chance in an area he knows well; recently converted to be suitable for a funeral director business, 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.
Since acquiring the keys in July, Don has equipped the premises with an Eco-friendly mortuary and also acquired a beautiful classical1983 Daimler DS hearse. He has a Mercedes that he uses as a removal vehicle, with a purpose built deck to ensure the safe transportation of people back to his premises – a service he provides free of charge. He’s added some pictures and furnishings, and dressed the window in a traditional yet classy style, with polished memorials and urns and a huge display of flowers.
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. When Don is out of the office conducting a funeral or visiting a family, retired former funeral director Peter Askew will look after the premises for him, but Don will be in touch with any new clients immediately on his return.
He is a proud signatory to the Quaker Social Action extended Fair Funeral Pledge, and consequently has 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 functional, but it’s built on the one owned by the former business that O’Dwyer Funeral Service took over from, so it’s not as good as Don would like. When he has time he’ll be having a new one designed, but for the time being all the information you need is there.
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 Peter 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, calling in assistance if needed from among his many friends in the industry. He 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 fresh out of the box and new, its connections and Don’s knowledge and experience are anything but.
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. He is having one of his chapels of rest blessed by the local priest as he feels this is the right thing to do, and the other chapel will remain without any religious influence, enabling families to choose which one they want to use to visit the person who has died. 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 haven’t ever visited and accredited such a new business, but we feel 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 little 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 answered by Don O’Dwyer. Occasionally, if he is out of the office it may be Peter Askew, and 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 £1150.00 exclusive of third-party payments. Simplest funeral £1750.00 exclusive of third-party costs. Includes collection of deceased, arranging and delivering all paperwork + suitable coffin, beautiful classic 1983 DS420 Daimler Hearse. 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 has freelance colleagues both male and female.
- Embalming – Only if required, and if Don think it may be preferable he will discuss this with you beforehand.
- Ethnic specialism – With ten 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 – Adequate information but needs updating. Plans are in place for a complete new website in due course.
- Client support – Totally supportive. You deal with Don all the way through.
- 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.
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.
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.