This is a small but perfectly formed funeral directors with an unusual, welcoming feature: the front door is always open.
John Pearce Dip FD, Member of the British Institute of Embalmers, is the owner and funeral director here. He opened the door of Pearce Funeral Services for the first time on March 1st 2009, almost twenty years after starting his career in the funeral world. By happy coincidence, we returned for our third visit to Pearce Funeral Services on the eighth anniversary of the opening of the business, and were happy to find that a second branch is now open, just along the road from Swindon Register Office.
John is the son of a Church of England priest, a good upbringing for a funeral director for, as he says, “I have seen and appreciated firsthand what it means, and the commitment required to be a servant of the local community.” This is what John is all about. He adds: “My upbringing has given me a desire to commit myself through my profession to serving the needs of our community in a truly personal way when people find themselves in a time of real need.”
Both premises are bright and welcoming. John has opted for neutral decor. There are no pictures on the walls, just a few professional certificates that assure you that he is a proper person who has been fully trained. John’s reasoning is that he does not want you to feel he has made any assumptions about you, your tastes, your values or your wishes. The decor is as open-minded as he is. With a touch of class in the matching chandeliers, table lamps and upright lamp in the arranging area and chapel of rest at Ermin Road.
John is very capably assisted by David Bashford, who occupies a number of vital roles and is, like John, a thoroughly nice person. Both men have quiet, warm and friendly personalities that put you instantly at ease. We like them very much indeed.
John lives his work, as so many of the best funeral directors do. When he manages to get some time off he loves to spend time with his daughter — and he has a weakness for a game of snooker.
One of the most important things to John is being sensitive to the enormous emotional pressure bereaved people are subject to. He has made a decision not to add to this by asking for any money before the funeral from any of his clients. No deposit, no ‘payment in advance for third party costs’, nothing at all. He trusts that you will pay him after the funeral. This is a brave and honourable way of working, and a rare thing to find these days.
Even more impressively, Pearce Funeral Services do not invoice families for funerals during the month of December, leading up to and over the Christmas period. John says “I feel that receiving a funeral invoice over that period can be particularly painful bearing in mind just how family orientated that period is. Although this does create a cash flow situation for us, I feel that this is the right thing to do bearing in mind the type of service we are offering and the situation that bereaved families are in during this time.”
John is completely open minded towards the service he provides. If you wish, he will conduct your funeral in ceremonial style; he and his staff will be immaculately turned out. He does not, though, favour a top hat and cane because, “As servants of the bereaved we feel that every emphasis should be with supporting the family on the day and we are very aware of ensuring that we conduct ourselves in a manner that maximises this support and does not draw any attention away from where it should rightly be.” If only more funeral directors took this view. If you would like him to wear his top hat, be sure to ask.
John will happily dress down if you prefer something less formal. Your wishes are his command. His hearse and limousines are very smart Jaguars. He hires these in though from a local carriage master – he has chosen not to purchase his own vehicles because of the high costs involved that would inevitably need to be passed on to his clients. If you want something less showy, as people often do these days, then he can offer you his Kia Sedona — which looks very smart.
John feels it to be more important than anything else that you have your funeral your way. Again, if only more funeral directors felt like this. He will spend as much time with you as it takes to go through the options and make the choices. He will also guide you kindly and wisely. He thinks that the process of creating a funeral is like a journey. He is very careful to make sure that you take the route that is right for you. He is also very careful to let you go at your pace. Time is no object — take all the time you need. He is very keen that you should feel in control at all times — that you regain control after what may have been a time when you were sidelined by carers and medical experts. He says: “It’s for us to fit in with you, not for you to fit in with us.” For John, every funeral is truly unique and highly personal. It belongs to you. His attention to detail is exemplary.
John has given a great deal of thought to enabling you to have a good experience if you want to visit the person who has died. The chapel of rest at Ermin Street is accessed from the comfy arranging room through double doors, so you can sit in the presence of the person who has died — you are not ushered into the sort of tiny chapel with two hard chairs that you find at so many funeral homes. He finds that, as a result, people spend far longer when they come to visit. He is also very keen that you should come as often as you want and spend as long as you like. Ring first so that he can make everything ready for you.
Embalming: Discuss the desirability or necessity for this with John or David. They will tell you what it involves and enable you to choose.
Continuity of care: The person with whom you make arrangements will be there for you throughout, and will conduct the funeral on the day.
Family participation: If you’d like to come in and wash and dress the person who has died, they will make this possible for you in a very supportive way. If that seems too much, perhaps you might like to come in to do hair and nails, or add finishing touches?
Same-sex person to wash and dress: Yes, if you wish. No problem at all.
Ethnic specialism: Accustomed to working with all ethnic and faith groups, and also very willing to research anything new or unfamiliar. Works closely with the local Muslim community.
Local celebrants: Will only work with the best. If you want a service led by someone who is not a minister of religion, they can make excellent recommendations.
Caring for the person who has died at home: If you would like to do this, they will support you in any way you ask. Talk it over with them. Read the Do It All Yourself page on this website.
Website: The website is useful and informative. There is an estimate of costs available.
Client support: Drop in anytime for a cup of tea and a chat. When you’ve created a funeral with John and David they may well come to feel like caring friends. Well, they are very genuine people! If you need specialist grief counselling, they can arrange this for you through a local charity, the Willows Counselling Trust.
Money matters: Prices are displayed, and they will give you a price list. They will not try to sell you things you do not need — and if, for example, you’d like to buy your own coffin on the internet, they’ll be perfectly happy about that. Tell them what your budget is, and they’ll work with that. You should always shop around before engaging a funeral director. You’ll find they offer good value for money. They also sell one of the few pre-paid funeral plans we reckon to be safe and reputable.
Parking: Ample offstreet parking in front of the premises at Ermin Street. At Groundswell Road, park in the adjacent residential road and pop in to the office for a parking permit.
The only Good Funeral Guide recommended funeral director on the east side of Swindon. Every bit as sincere and kind and dedicated as they seem. Expect an affordable, high-value service from really decent people who will put you first in everything.
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.
Wednesday 18th January 2012 at 12:32 pm
I used pearce funeral services last summer after the death of my father rod. I found john to be the ultimate professional impeccable in his approach and the service we had from him as a family was of the very highest standard. His premises is small and charming and clean and tasteful.the various visits that were made by members of the family were all overseen by john in a very caring considerate way that put my sister especially who was weary of going to the chapel at ease and helped her.on the day of the funeral johns staff were smartly turned out and john himself didn’t rush us or get in the way prefering to keep his distance although being on hand if needed.the cars were very impressive and stylish and spotless inside. John returned my fathers ashes to us the next day after the funeral.I would not hesitate to tell anyone that a funeral arranged with john pearce is both dignified and respectfully carried out and in these days of financial restriction his services are also very very reasonable. Steven blanchard.