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.
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.
Saturday 1st July 2017 at 08.12am
Thank you Don and team for your kindness and understanding during this difficult time and for assisting me through the various decisions.
My sister’s funeral was carried out to a very high standard. Prior and post the funeral any queries we had were answered by phone and email immediately.
Don and team were excellent, I couldn’t praise them enough.
Sunday 25th June 2017 at 22.36pm
I would like to thank Don and Louise from O’Dwyer Funeral Services for being so professional and welcoming… …they arranged my mother’s funeral service .
Don told us step by step what they could do and or what we should expect from them
it was organised perfectly….they were punctual.and..for a very reasonable price.too.
Sunday 25th June 2017 at 22.03pm
I would like to thank Don and his team for everything they did for myself and my dad when carry out the funeral of my brother James. It was a Greek Orthodox funeral and everything was carried out to a very high standard. Prior to the funeral Don was available to answer any queries we had, by phone and email.
The funeral went as well as it could have, Don and the team were wonderful. I couldn’t praise them enough. Thank you again.
Thursday 22nd June 2017 at 21.58pm
I didn’t have a clue where to start when it came to organising my dad’s funeral a few weeks ago. I found O’Dwyer ‘s website on Google and it immediately stood out to me as it was the only funeral director I’d found that had a price list on their site. I emailed them and received a prompt and welcoming response from Louise,who proved to be lovely and extremely helpful.
We met to discuss arrangements and I was immediately impressed by the premises as they’ve managed to strike a balance between modern and sombre without being at all depressing or oppressive.
Louise was extremely welcoming and really took on board what we wanted. We were also introduced to Don who came across as very honest and amiable. I left that day feeling completely confident that I could trust O’Dwyer to make most of the arrangements for me,which at such a difficult time,was a godsend.
As well as putting me in contact with a priest, arranging the printing of the orders of service, helping with the music selection and booking the crematorium, Louise put me in contact with a florist. Becky contacted me that day and was amazing. Not only is she hugely talented and managed to produce two perfect flower displays, she is so warm, supportive and accommodating,it was a pleasure to do business with her.
Over the following week,Louise was in constant contact by text and/or email, giving me updates or just asking how everything was going. She was also able to give me a rough estimate of the total cost, which was very,very reasonable and I never felt like I was being talked into something just to push the price up.
On the day of the cremation, Don rang me to make sure I was ok and still happy with the plan for the day. His attention to detail was hugely touching and made me feel like he genuinely wanted to get everything perfect for my dad.
The hearse and car arrived exactly on time, and Don and his staff were able to judge the mood of the situation impeccably; we really didn’t want the day to be miserable, and Don and Co were able to keep the atmosphere light but completely professional. The journey to the crematorium was timed perfectly and Don was hugely reassuring throughout our arrival and entry into the chapel. Afterwards, Don and his staff were there to guide us outside and although they were waiting to drive us onto the wake,we didn’t feel at all rushed or pressured to leave straightaway.
Once at the pub, Don came into the bar with me to make sure that everything was ok (even though I’d arranged the wake completely independently from O’Dwyer) and helped arrange the flowers. Before he left,he made a point of saying goodbye to myself and my dad’s partner.
All in all,although planning a funeral is never nice, however, Don, Louise and Co certainly made it an easy and stress free experience. From start to finish, I felt that I was more than just another customer and I can’t sing their praises enough!
Wednesday 26th April 2017 at 6:09 pm
I’m a little late to write this review, but am doing so as Don more than deserves it. My Father’s funeral took place on the 15th December 2016. As anyone who is in need of a funeral directors services will know it is a heartbreaking and difficult time, where making the right decisions isn’t always easy.
Don was so supportive every step of the way, and no request was too difficult for him. He ensured that we were involved in every possible step of the process and minimised the stress for me and my family as much as possible. Furthermore, he encouraged and empowered me to carry the coffin as I wished, despite many reservations from my family that I wouldn’t manage.
Don was honest from day one about costs and even made suggestions in order to try and save money for us! He was never pushy and gave me the time and space to make any decisions I needed. He also referred us to a lady for the flowers who again was affordable, went the extra mile and whose work was beautiful. I am extremely grateful that I chose Don’s services and would highly recommend him to anyone in need of them. Thank you so much for helping me give my Father the beautiful send off he deserved.
Thursday 2nd March 2017 at 6:08 pm
A really professional and personal service Don provided for my father’s funeral. On 1 March 2017
His attention to detail was impressive as was his responsive communication .
we felt really looked after at this difficult time .
Long reign small businesses
I don’t know how he made us feel like we were his only customer !
Monday 16th January 2017 at 3:49 pm
Don organised my mother’s cremation in January 2017. Throughout the whole process he was supportive and considerate – during the service itself he made sure that every detail was just right. He managed everything with sensitivity and a wonderful sense of ceremony. Many people commented on what a great and comforting presence he was. Pricing was clear and exactly right for me – he didn’t push me to spend money I didn’t have. Would 100% recommend his services.
Wednesday 11th January 2017 at 2:21 pm
We were fortunate enough to find and choose O’Dwyer Funeral Directors for my Mother’s funeral. Words cannot express our immense gratitude to Don for his highly professional and compassionate service throughout. My Father was particularly distraught after my Mother passed. When we visited my Mother at the Chapel of rest, she looked absolutely perfect. Having been sick for a long time, Don managed to restore her to her true self. On the day of the funeral, Don ensured everything ran perfectly. On top of that, he ensured that my Father was involved every step of the way. I can’t describe how much that meant to us and to him. We met with Peter too and he was just as kind towards us. The florist that Don recommends is absolutely wonderful too. This was our first experience with a funeral and we are beyond grateful to Don and his team for making such a sad occasion one that we will look back on fondly. I would not hesitate to recommend O’Dwyer Funeral Directors.
Thursday 17th November 2016 at 9:19 pm
Thank you meeting you at Hendon Crematorium for Madan M Choudhury.
Thanks again for your friendly conversation.
Wednesday 5th October 2016 at 5:27 pm
Thank you Don for your kindness today. I explained my parents’ wishes and you sensitively guided me through the decisions I have to make providing me with clear options. I will take your advice. On the basis of this conversation alone, I would recommend you.
Monday 3rd October 2016 at 12:13 pm
Thank you Don for organising my mum’s cremation. Your service was sincere, sensitive to our wishes and efficient. The cremation was exactly what my mum would have wanted. The music you played and your letting me help carry her coffin into the chapel helped make it all that little bit easier for us all to say our goodbyes and thanks to a wonderful mother and friend.