Funeral Directors Category: Wales
Tristan Owen – great grandson of the original Tom Owen – and his soon to be wife, Kelly Bowsher. Tristan’s dad, Scott Owen is still involved with this award-winning company, although he has reduced his days and works part time now, leaving the day to day running of the business to Tristan and Kelly, who are in the process of taking the business over entirely.
The fourth member of the team is Chris Lea, who has been with the company for some years, and is treated as an extended member of the family – all four arrange and conduct funerals, and it will always be Tristan, Kelly or Chris who answer the phone when you first contact them.
Tom Owen and Son has been serving the local community for more than 90 years, since it was established by Tom and his son Peter in 1930, but although the long history and well-earned local reputation provides strong foundations for the company, it doesn’t define the business as it is today. Under fourth generation Tristan and Kelly’s guidance, it has been transformed into a forward-looking, thoughtful, modern and creative funeral directing company that has families at the heart and centre of it.
Although he was born into a funeral directing family and recalls enjoying helping his father and grandfather cleaning the funeral cars as a child, Tristan didn’t step into the family business straight from school. He was encouraged by his parents to go and make his way in the world, and after leaving sixth form at Eirias School, he left North Wales for Leeds University where he was awarded a Master’s degree in automotive engineering.
He went on to work for eight years with Renold PLC, travelling the globe in his role as Project Manager for the Business Systems team, and, probably more importantly, meeting and falling in love with Kelly, who he met when they worked together. Kelly is from Manchester, she was working as an Executive Assistant when she met Tristan, honing the organisational skills that she has brought with her to the funeral company. She had also spent some time working in mental health nursing earlier in her working life.
The couple set up home in Manchester, living and working in the city and regularly spending weekends and holidays in North Wales. They and their young daughter loved the beautiful beaches and coastline and spending time with Scott and Jayne, Tristan’s parents.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Tristan role inevitably was affected, and he began working from home. At around the same time, Scott decided that he was ready to think about retirement, and one day he called Tristan and asked him if he would be willing to come and join the family company.
As Tristan says, this wasn’t a decision that could be made on the spot, and he and Kelly spent a couple of weeks thinking seriously about uprooting their family and completely changing their lives before they made up their minds to accept the offer. They both saw the potential for embarking on a new life working together in roles that would be meaningful and purposeful.
In the summer of 2020, Kelly, Tristan and their daughter moved to North Wales, initially staying with Tristan’s mother until they found a home of their own. The plan was for Tristan to direct funerals, and learn all aspects of the business, with Kelly looking after the finances and administration, but this soon changed when Kelly became involved with arranging and conducting funerals and found that she had an aptitude and a passion for it. She also set up the new website and oversees social media content and has been responsible for the development of new branding for the business.
Fast forward to the end of 2021, and the couple are both deeply involved in the funeral company, bringing their own skills and ideas to enhance and enrich the established family business and shape it into the modern, forward looking funeral home that they envision. When we visited them, both Kelly and Tristan had arranged and conducted almost 100 funerals apiece in the time they’ve been part of the business, and they were clearly both deeply committed and inspired by their new vocation.
Their role models are various progressive funeral directors, all on the GFG Recommended list, and they are immersing themselves in all aspects of best practice in bereavement support, grief training and awareness, following various charities and organisations on social media and attending webinars and training courses.
Tristan and Kelly are determined to take the company forwards into the 21st century, while retaining all the best elements of a family run, traditional funeral directors, and they are gradually enhancing the service offered by Tom Owen and Son while being careful not to lose the aspects of the business that have made it such a well-respected community service.
Since taking over running the company the couple have added a number of personal touches to the way that funerals are carried out; the people in their care are looked after with beautiful lotions and essential oils, fresh flowers are placed in their hands and music that they liked is played in the chapel of rest when family members come to spend time with them. Handwritten notes and packets of wildflower seeds are sent with every invoice, and cards are sent to bereaved clients on the anniversary of the death.
They have introduced an online tribute facility on the new website and have set up and run monthly coffee mornings for local bereaved people at Providero, a Tea and Coffee House in Llandudno where anyone who has been bereaved is welcome – Scott often drops into these social gatherings where he is a welcome host. A complimentary bereavement counselling session with North Wales Reflections is now offered to all families. Tristan and Kelly have engaged with local charities and schools, collaborating on initiatives and fundraising events, and are keen to do more of this in the future.
The company website has been completely overhauled and relaunched, with an informative blog that offers advice and guidance on all aspects of funerals, as well as more information about the family members involved with the company and their colleagues.
Kelly’s involvement in all aspects of the work is an additional change, she helps to care for all the women that the company looks after, adding a female touch where appropriate. If clients prefer only men to carry out the mortuary care, Tristan, Scott and Chris will look after them.
Tom Owen and Son is still in the original premises where the business was founded by Tom and Peter. It’s on a side road, off of a main road in Llandudno, at the foot of the Great Orme, and has a discrete frontage with hanging baskets and plants outside.
Entering the building, the reception area is calm and serene, the meeting room where arrangements for funerals are made has recently been updated and has a modern, relaxing atmosphere, with comfortable seating, plants, natural light and fresh flowers, and refreshments on hand.
The chapel of rest has just been refurbished, and is light and bright and modern, while the mortuary area is spotless and fully equipped. Garaging and storage is at the rear of the building, while the offices are upstairs away from the public areas.
Bringing modern funeral directing to what is typically a traditional and conservative part of the UK. This delicate upgrading is being done sensitively and carefully, it’s essential to Tristan and Kelly that they don’t change things just for the sake of it, but they can see many areas where things could be done better, and they are gently introducing improvements.
The strong roots in the community will remain, this is of paramount importance to both of them, but they can see that there is far more that goes into a funeral than simply following tradition and resting on past reputation. They want every funeral to be as good as it possibly can be, and as relevant and meaningful to each family as possible – they do not want the funeral to be about the funeral director. They always sit in on the entire funeral ceremony and see this as an essential part of their role.
Ensuring each family that they work with feels empowered to create the funeral that is right for them. The sensitive task of gauging the level of involvement that each family requires is a skill that both Tristan and Kelly have, and they often look for cues in the way people respond to their exploratory conversations to tailor their approach to each family, paying attention to body language and facial expressions.
They offer as much time as each family need, with initial meetings to open discussions and then follow up meetings if needed to allow plenty of time for thoughts to develop as ideas are considered. They will be available to their clients 24/7 by whichever type of contact the family prefer, telephone, text or email, and they will never rush people into making decisions.
When you are arranging a funeral with Tristan or Kelly they will ask you your preference of day and time, and will accommodate this as far as humanly possible, and they will be involved in almost all the planning of the ceremony with you. They will offer to walk through all of the arrangements for the day with you, so you are clear about the running order and what will happen when.
In a part of the UK where funerals are still often very traditional, Kelly and Tristan are offering a modern alternative to the existing offerings while still retaining the ability to provide a completely traditional funeral if this is your preference.
Their gentle, sympathetic and empowering approach is a refreshing change from many of the less forward-looking companies in the area. If you want to work with a company that puts you first and foremost, you will find the new look Tom Owen and Son exactly the right funeral director to meet your need.
- Your first call will be answered by Tristan, Kelly or Chris, occasionally Scott if he is in the office.
- Home visits – of course if this is your preference.
- Family participation – encouraged and welcomed.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, this is normal practice.
- Embalming – not routine, only if specifically requested or deemed advisable due to circumstances and then fully discussed with family before proceeding
- Ethnic specialism – Llandudno does not have large communities of different ethnicities, so experience is limited although they would be more than happy to undertake funerals for clients from any ethnicity or culture and would be keen to research and learn about specific requirements.
- Home arranged funerals – absolutely, very happy to support clients who just need advice or limited support
- Local celebrants – they have a list of around ten local celebrants who have all been personally interviewed and whose values and ways of working are in keeping with the company. They will always try to match the most appropriate celebrant with the family.
- Website – very good website, informative, modern, easy to navigate.
- Vehicles – Mercedes Benz hearse and limousine or saloon vehicle offered as standard, all other funeral vehicles available to hire on request.
- Client support – exceptionally good, this is something both Kelly and Tristan are passionate about.
- Money matters – fairly priced for the quality of service you receive, funerals other than direct cremation are invoiced 14 days after the funeral date, with 60 days for clients to make payment. Direct cremations are invoiced in advance of the cremation.
- Parking – ample parking outside.
The old-fashioned style of funeral directing is gradually fading away as younger, creative people come into the sector, bringing fresh eyes and ideas to organising and arranging funerals. Kelly and Tristan are the perfect example of how an established family business can benefit from the input of people who have worked elsewhere, who understand exceptional customer service and meticulous attention to detail when it comes to the unique, personal service that funeral directing requires.
This is very much a person centred company, you will develop a close working relationship with Tristan or Kelly and they will look after both you and your relative with as much care and attention as if they were your family.
We are delighted to add Tom Owen and Son as our first Recommended funeral director in North Wales.