Recommended Funeral Directors
Address: 669 Loose Road, Maidstone ME15 9UX
Johanna Loveridge. Here is a comparatively new funeral home (opened in 2009) run by a brilliant, born-again funeral director. Before she opened Albany, Jo ran a care home. Her warmth and capability have ensured rapid growth. Word is getting out; people like what she does and the way that she does it.
Jo is incredibly nice, and we cannot imagine anyone not taking to her at once. No airs and graces here, just kindness and friendliness and good manners. She's a class act, unusually intelligent and switched on, seeking to enrich her clients’ experience of creating a funeral. There’s nothing rigid in her thinking. She's very happy to have found what it is that she really wants to do.
The funeral home is bright, well-lit, civilised and unusually tastefully decorated, painted in soft, neutral colours – the sort of place that really puts you at your ease. It's like walking into someone's home. The room in which you make arrangements is furnished with sofas and armchairs, and this tells you that you have all the time you need. There’s a lovely chapel of rest, spacious and serene, lit by lots of candles.
When she's not working, Jo likes to get involved in community activities. Jo is the governor of a local school and she serves on her Parish Council. She likes cycling with her children, walking, cooking and travelling.
Being part of the community of bereaved people is also important to Jo and her team, and they are proud of their growing bereavement support group, which meets every month. They've organised outings for their bereavement group and plan more for the future, and their annual balloon release event in memory of those who have died has outgrown its original home as so many people attend, whatever the weather. It's clear that the care for their clients doesn't just stop when the funeral is over, Albany is very much there for you for as long as you need them.
Jo will arrange exactly the funeral you want. Albany are unique in the area in being perfectly able to provide either a completely traditional funeral, or a totally bespoke one. If it’s a traditional funeral that you want, you can be reassured that the turnout is as smart as it gets. And if you want a very personal, individual event then Jo will be able to offer you as many suggestions as you feel comfortable with. You'll never be overwhelmed though, she's exceptionally good at listening to people and understanding what they need from her.
Whatever type of funeral you want, it will probably be conducted by Rick, although if you wanted the former Albany funeral conductor Pete (whose spit-and-polish is matched only by his kindness) you only have to ask for him. He's retired now, but still comes in to carry out funerals when he's asked for. You might have Sam, Jo's second in command, or another female conductor Donna. Or possibly Tim Holloway. You'll get to know whoever is conducting your funeral well before the day. If you want their bearers to carry the coffin, they only choose ones who look nice (you can choose your own, of course).
If you want a less formal funeral, Jo will talk you through the options and, of course, everyone will dress accordingly.
Jo is very much aware that people’s expectations of a funeral are changing. She recognises that there is a growing demand for funerals which reflect the personality and values of the person who died. She recognises that no two funerals are the same, so she is aware of the vital importance of listening very carefully to you and making sure the funeral you arrange is exactly as you want it. What makes her especially well qualified to do this is her intelligence and her humanity.
Jo had a life outside before coming in to funeral directing, so she looks at everything with fresh eyes. This makes her unusually flexible and open-minded. She is not a radical in any sense of the word, but she is very good at interpreting her clients’ needs and wishes, and she is very well informed. When it comes to discussing the range of choices available to you, you will find her full of suggestions and absolutely up to date. If you want to make financial provision for your own funeral she will guide you through the options.
One special difference comes in the four legged form of Jo's beautiful little dog, Lily Pickles - known as Pix to everyone. She's like a living teddy bear, and loves nothing more than being stroked and cuddled. She has a future as a therapy dog for Albany, and if you're a dog person and need some gentle affection from a pretty little canine while you're talking about your plans for a funeral, she'll come and sit with you, giving you the chance for some therapeutic calming stroking. (If you're not a dog person, no worries, Pix will be upstairs being fussed over by the staff).
When you phone, your call will be answered by Jo or Sam.
Prices online here. Direct cremation - Includes collection and care of the person who has died, all paperwork etc, cardboard coffin, doctors fees - £1,600. Simple early morning cremation - "Includes all our normal services, doctors and minister/celebrant fees and a cardboard coffin – only difference is an early morning slot at the crem and coffin already installed in the chapel before the start of the funeral. £2,595."
Home Visits - Happy to come to your home to arrange the funeral.
Embalming – Mostly, she doesn't but, if you want it, she'll explain what’s involved and let you decide.
Continuity of Care – Either Jo or Sam will look after you throughout and you’ll meet Rick, Peter, Donna or Tim before the funeral..
Family Participation - If you’d like to come in and wash and dress the person who has died then she'll be there for you, to help you or leave you to it.
Same sex person to wash and dress - yes: just let her know.
Ethnic Specialism - Jo is experienced in arranging funerals according to a wide range of customs.
Local Celebrants - Good relationships with local clergy. If you want a secular celebrant, she has a number on their books. She is incredibly careful about who she recommends, and she'll offer you a booklet with all the local celebrants + personal statements to help you make up your mind.
DIY Funerals - If you want to handle some or all parts of the funeral yourself, you can buy in the services you need separately. Jo will be very happy to support you in any way you wish her to.
Website - Comprehensive website showing basic prices and additional costs.
Bereavement support – A support group meets monthly for those who want it. Very popular and a great success.
Parking - There is off-street parking on the forecourt of the funeral home.
Jo does not conform in any way to the gloomy caricature of the funeral director, you'll not be surprised to hear, and nor does her funeral home. She is bright, normal, businesslike, kind and absolutely genuine. We think she'll look after you well, in the way you’d like to be looked after. You’ll be able to create a fine and appropriate send-off at a price that will reflect what we reckon to be very good value for money.
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.