Funeral Directors Category: South East England
Adrian Pink. Or occasionally his wife Amanda. Adrian became a funeral director by chance some 30 years ago in his hometown of Cambridge, and he has spent those three decades soaking up every aspect of funeral directing. He has worked for small co-operative funeral directors and large funeral directing chains; he started a previous successful independent business, and worked as regional manager for a rapidly growing conglomerate. He has been president of the British Institute of Funeral Directors, and a member of the international disaster response team. He holds the NAFD Diploma in funeral directing and is a former tutor for the Cruse bereavement course. Now in his fifties, Adrian walked away from a comfy role in senior management because he was disillusioned by the corporate world. “The whole idea of service had been forgotten,” he said “I wanted to look after families properly, to go back to the old values of service and a personal touch.”
Town and Country Funeral Directors is the result of the distillation of those 30 years experience together with the determination to put each bereaved family at the very centre of their funeral. The business is run from Adrian and Amanda’s home; they don’t have a high street office, which enable them to keep their overheads to a minimum and therefore keeps their fees lower.
“Just like back in the day, the funeral director would go and visit each family at their house. We do that, or they can come here if they want, but most people are more comfortable in their own home. There’s no pressure, no feeling awkward in a strange office with memorials on display and dusty artificial flowers in the window. I just arrange to go and visit families whenever it suits them, in a very casual way.”
Adrian’s ‘casual way’ belies the immense reserves of knowledge and experience he has behind him. He is the epitome of calm, a steady, reassuring and easy man to be with, and would instantly make even the most anxious or distressed person feel that they were in safe and capable hands. Nothing fazes him, there’s probably very little that he hasn’t seen or dealt with before, which has imparted a confidence that is tangible even in the tone of his voice when he answers the phone. He knows his stuff, and if he doesn’t know the answer to a question, he knows the person to ask.
Adrian and Amanda do everything, from answering the phone 24 hours a day seven days a week, to collecting the body of the person who has died themselves. It will always be one or other of them that speaks to you, and they stay in close contact as the days go by. Adrian will always call to let families know that he has brought their relative into their care, and his clients know they can ring him personally whenever they want about anything. “It may not seem an important thing to us but if someone is worrying about something I would much rather they rang me so I can reassure them. We want families to know we are here for them throughout the whole time up until the funeral, and afterwards if they need us.”
There is something very important about the continuity of care that Adrian provides, from advice (which is given freely if you need it), assistance and suggestions about the shape of the funeral itself, through to the practical aspect of lifting and caring for the body of the person who has died – knowing that it is Adrian who is doing everything enables families to feel complete trust in him, as evidenced by the many very personal letters and messages of thanks he has received.
Town and Country have a converted barn, which accommodates their mortuary, workshop, and coffin storage; if families want to spend time with the person who has died this can be arranged either at a local funeral director’s chapel or in the chapel at the nearby Brookwood Cemetery. There is an additional charge for this, which is explained to the families when costs are discussed. “We don’t include this fee in our normal service charge because not everyone wants it. We don’t believe in averaging out the costs so that some families subsidise others, each of our clients pays for exactly what they want from us and nothing more.”
As a husband and wife team, Adrian and Amanda are able to combine their skills to offer clients whatever type of service and care they want. Amanda met Adrian some years ago when she was working in the finance department of a large funeral directing chain and he was one of the managers there. Formerly in the catering trade and subsequently spending time working for Surrey Police, Amanda has a background in bookkeeping and a very practical outlook on life. “I can’t see myself ever doing anything else,” she says. “I love this job. Every day is different, every family is important, every funeral I get nervous – but if I don’t get that butterfly in my tummy I’ll know there’s something wrong. I don’t ever want to get complacent, it’s too important to each family that everything is perfect.”
On the rare occasions that Adrian and Amanda take a holiday, Town and Country is looked after by a close friend and equally experienced funeral director Rob Ayling. He shares Adrian’s dedication to getting everything right, and has a similar reassuring manner and feeling of calm competence. Tony Goring, a very good funeral arranger and celebrant is also available as back up when needed. All other staff who help out with funerals are hand picked professionals who work seamlessly and unobtrusively in the background to support Adrian in his role.
Adrian’s style as a funeral director is whatever his clients prefer. Traditional mourning attire, country tweeds, casual suits, different coloured ties – he adapts his appearance to complement the requirements of each family. His usual vehicle is a silver MPV, but he can obtain any style of hearse and as many limousines as required. He has discrete photographs on an Ipad of coffins he has supplied previously to show clients so they can see exactly how different coffins look rather than just choosing from a brochure, and he has endless ideas or suggestions for families who need some inspiration in making their funeral special. He can suggest celebrants whose style will fit in with particular families, and has a variety of local small businesses that he can suggest to help with flowers, service sheets, catering or other additional features.
Costs are kept low by the lack of overheads in the business and by requiring full payment in advance from each client. This means that the company carries no bad debt, and enables them to continue offering a very personal service at a very modest rate.
As a recent testimonial wryly observed: “I think your organisation do a superb job at a fraction of the cost of using local undertakers. I can see that once the general public gets to know this you will put a lot of these people who charge large sums of money for the same out of business.”
Wholly flexible, completely professional but entirely the choice of each family. If you want a traditional top hat and tails with Adrian paging a gleaming hearse, that’s what you’ll get. If you prefer a pageantry-free affair then he’ll make that happen for you. He’ll wear whatever you want him to wear – even a clown suit if that’s what you decide. He’s entirely at your service, and that’s evident from the start. He believes that the funeral should be whatever the client wants it to be, and is constantly listening to families and reacting to their needs and wishes.
Personal service. From start to finish, the service you receive from Town and Country is bespoke and entirely committed to you and your needs. They don’t want to expand and take over the world, they don’t want to open a shop on the high street, they feel they’ve got it just right the way they are doing things now because they are keeping the focus on each family they serve.
The combination of Adrian’s wealth of experience and his fresh, modern approach to the job he has loved for so long. He has the gravitas you would expect of someone so well qualified, but an instinctive awareness of the evolving changes in funerals, and a determination to stay abreast of them. Adrian feels the way he is able to work now is going back to the best of the old ways, before someone invented the ‘funeral industry’. He’s a 21st century, old-fashioned undertaker, in the very best sense.
- Prices here. Direct cremation £1550 all-in, details here: No Fuss Direct Funeral. Direct burial £760 plus grave cost plus gravedigging – No fuss direct burial
- Your first call will be answered by Adrian or Amanda.
- Home visits – Yes, this is standard
- Family participation – Absolutely yes – this is positively encouraged. As much participation as you want.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, no problem, either Amanda or Adrian will do this.
- Embalming – They have adequate refrigeration, so don’t think embalming is necessary.
- Ethnic specialism – Experienced in helping all faiths and ethnic groups
- Home arranged funerals – Yes, happy to help families looking after a dead person themselves with advice or assistance as required. They often help families wishing to do most things themselves and encourage all families to participate in whatever aspect they feel able to.
- Local celebrants – They have over 25 celebrants who they rate, and will try and suggest a few who are a good fit for families to speak to.
- Website – Adequate information but needs a little updating. Has a price estimator so you can have an at a glance total cost of the funeral director fees.
- Client support – Totally supportive. You deal with Adrian or Amanda throughout, they keep you up to date and informed and are there whenever needed.
- Money matters – Very good value. Their prices are online and clearly outlined. Full payment is required in advance of the funeral but with the lower costs involved this figure is likely to be similar to the 50% deposit required by larger companies.
- Parking – As Adrian comes to your home to make funeral arrangements this isn’t normally an issue. Should you prefer to go to his house then parking is available in their drive.
This small company is making a big difference to the families who use it. Low cost and high value, Town and Country Funeral Directors are an example of how a different approach to funeral directing can give clients exceptional service at a reasonable cost. Totally professional but genuinely warm and human, Adrian is a safe pair of hands who will ensure that everything goes impeccably well for you. We like their sense of camaraderie with other small businesses too; they help other small funeral directors whenever asked and are always willing to lend a hand to other independent businesses. Top marks.
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.