Recommended Funeral Directors
Colin Fisher Funeral Directors
Address: 109 Cotmandene Crescent, Orpington, near Bromley, Kent BR5 2RB
Now part of the Rowland Brothers Group, Colin Fisher Funeral Directors is an independent, family run business with all the attributes that brings. Funerals are supported by the Rowland Brothers fleet and staff, and back office administrative support frees Colin to devote himself to the families he serves.
Colin’s route to funeral directing has been an indirect one. He started out in hospitality, running hotels and bars – so you can see he’s a people person. When the hotel he was working in was sold, and he found himself jobless and with bills mounting, Colin reluctantly took a job with a funeral home in Croydon. Five years later he returned to hospitality – and then realised that funeral directing was where his heart was after all. After years of working for other funeral directors he set up his own funeral home in 2011 – a brave thing to do.
Colin is an extremely well qualified funeral director (Dip FD) and also a qualified grief and bereavement counsellor. When he’s not working Colin is a real family man. These days he especially likes hanging out with his grandchildren. He’s even filled in his garden pond so that they can use it as their very own vegetable patch.
Colin’s warm personality and determination to do the right thing for the families he served led to the business being recommended by the Good Funeral Guide for five years until the change of ownership that came with joining Rowland Brothers in 2016, so we are delighted to re-instate the company as one of our Recommended Funeral Directors now that Rowland Brothers have also undergone the accreditation process.
There's nothing super-smart about this funeral home, nor is it intimidating or clinical or gloomy, as some funeral homes can be. It's comfy and lived in and really very cheerful, though a refurbishment to modernise it is on the cards now that there is the support of the larger organisation. There is a visitors’ area consisting of a kitchen, a seating area, toilets and the chapel of rest, where you can visit the person who has died in privacy, help yourself to drinks and get yourself ready to face the world again.
If you call into Colin’s branch and find that he is busy with another family, you can pop over the road where you’ll be given a complimentary cup of tea or coffee by the café owner until Colin is free – it’s that kind of community here. There’s also an excellent pie and mash shop a few doors down the road.
Independently owned and run, Rowland Brothers has five branches operating under the family name, with another four locations that they have purchased retaining their original owners’ names. The company was established in 1873, and seven generations of the Rowland family have been involved since then, with the current ‘Big Boss’, Tony Rowland now in his late seventies but still very much hands on and involved with the running of the business. (Tony was responsible for founding Rowland Brothers International and the funeral plan provider Golden Leaves, and is well known locally for his work with charities and other organisations).
Tony’s son, Steve Rowland, is managing director of the business and now leads the development of the whole Rowland Brothers group and he is one of the best kind of bosses. Despite his busy diary, he spent the day driving us around to visit all of their branches, and the genuine affection with which he was greeted by all of his staff was very revealing. Born and bred in the area, Steve is very much a man of the people, with an easy manner belying a keen eye for quality and a strong sense of responsibility and duty. Steve trusts his staff to do their job properly, and he doesn’t micro-manage, he lets them get on with things. Full training is provided when a new staff member joins the team to ensure that the new person has a full understanding of the Rowland Brothers way of working, with a buddy system in place. Many of the staff have been with the company for years, and have gained vast experience in all types of funerals, so there is always someone who will be able to help with a more complicated funeral arrangement if needed. Support is provided for those who want to gain qualifications, and there’s a HR lady who looks after the wellbeing of everyone in the various companies (Rowland Brothers have many different services, from repatriation, funeral plans, exhumation services, monumental masonry, legal services and their recently formed charity, the Rowland Brothers Foundation. Steve is at the head of all of these companies, overseeing all crucial operations and decisions.)
Colin can do a formal, traditional funeral with the best of them: top hat, wing collars, cravat and cane. If you’d like something less formal he will conform to your own dress code, and he’ll do so with pleasure. As he says, “The person who is paying for the funeral should be able to have what they want. There are not really any lines I would not cross. I am being paid to provide the service; that’s what I do.” That’s the kind of man he is. So if you want to conduct the funeral – walk in front of the hearse – he’ll happily hand over to you. He can supply all sorts of alternatives to the traditional hearse – including a genuine Del Boy three-wheeler Reliant Robin. He believes in choice and he makes sure he lets you know what your choices are.
Colin is a great believer in the personal touch, the familiar face. No one, to him, is just another client. He takes everyone as they come. He will look after you throughout the arrangement process and he’ll be there for you on the day – and afterwards for as long as you need him. He says, “I wanted to open a funeral home that offered a good affordable personal service. At a distressing time, I take great pride in ensuring that people are happy with the funeral arrangements and have the peace of mind that every detail is taken care of.” He scores top marks all round. He adds, “I pride myself on treating people how I would like to be treated.” He does, too.
Colin has all the time for you that you need. He doesn’t just work office hours, he’s there for you 24/7. So, for example, if you want to come and visit the person who has died, if it’s at all possible you can stay all day if you want. Colin has a kettle and a microwave at your disposal. He’s an extra mile person, you see – in all things. He says, “I always say to the client, never be afraid to ask for something if it is important to you.” He's not just putting it on, either. We were really struck by Colin's freshness and energy. Nothing, for him, is a matter of routine.
- Your first call will be answered by Colin or Suzanne, his wife.
- Home visits – yes, just ask.
- Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, again, just ask. People brought into Colin’s care are routinely bathed and have their hair washed before they are placed into their coffins. If you want to be involved or to do this yourself, let your funeral arranger know.
- Embalming? Not conducted as a matter of course, but recommended if you want to spend time with the person who has died in the Chapel of Rest or at home. The procedure will be explained to you and you will be asked to sign a document giving permission to carry out this invasive procedure.
- Ethnic specialism? Colin Fisher Funeral Directors through Rowland Brothers have vast experience of assisting families from different countries and cultures. Hindu, Sikh, Greek Orthodox, Christian (all sects), Ghanaian, Nigerian, Goan, Romanian, Polish, Chinese, Lithuanian, Serbian, Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian, Afro-Caribbean, Tamil, Sri-Lankan, Nepalese and many more.
- Home arranged funerals – absolutely, they are happy to support families who want to care for their dead relative at home, and to provide as much or as little advice and assistance as is needed.
- Local celebrants – Colin knows the local celebrants well, and will suggest the person he feels most suitable to help you. He has a list of all local celebrants, but there are some favourites who he can recommend with certainty that you will receive an excellent service.
- Vehicles – Colin uses the Rowland Brothers fleet of three hearses and five limousines. These are currently Fords, but these are likely to be changed to different models soon. They also have seven private ambulances.
- Website – Lots of information and prices on the website though we ‘d like to see it looking a little more up to date.
- Client support – Superb and ongoing as long as you need it through the Rowland Brothers Bereavement Aftercare.
- Money matters – Exceptionally good value for money, a high-class service for several thousand pounds less than nearby corporate funeral directors
- Parking – on the street outside.
Colin Fisher Funeral Directors built a great reputation locally, and now it is part of the Rowland Brothers Group it enjoys the same, well-deserved superb name. It shares the gravitas of a long-established business that knows exactly how to serve families in the best way, but the forward-looking flexibility of a small family run undertaking.
Colin continues to devote himself to local families, but now he has the friendship and support of Steve Rowland behind him, meaning that there is a security to the future of this well run local business.
Colin Fisher Funeral Directors is an example of the best kind of undertaker, and gives excellent value for money. You won’t find a better, nicer funeral director in this part of the world.