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Sullivan and Son Independent Funeral Service

Sullivan & Son main staff.jpg
0.00 (2 reviews)
12 Beaconsfield Road, Dover CT16 2LL
12 Beaconsfield Road Dover England CT16 2LL GB

The business is owned by Paul Sullivan, Dip FD,who started in the funeral industry in 1992 when he was aged 19. He’s assisted by his brother Alex, who looks after the office management and funeral director Julie Fraser-Reid Dip FD, with Colin Meades as senior chauffeur / bearer and Alan Goodall making up the rest of the team.

Paul’s love of funerals began when he was in the sixth form, and through dogged persistence, he managed to get a position as an employment trainee through Kent Skills a year later. His first years in the funeral world were spent working for a large corporate funeral director, and he gained much experience and achieved the diploma in funeral directing during this time.

After moving from the corporate world to work for an independent funeral director at Deal and Woodnesborough, Paul expanded his experience to every aspect of running a business, and in 2006 he made the decision to start his own company. Sullivan and Son opened on March 31st 2007, and for the first few years was entirely run by Paul on his own.

Alex joined Paul on a part time basis in 2009, and Julie came to work with them some years later. The small team now carries out ten times as many funerals as Paul did in his first year, as Sullivan and Son’s reputation has grown in the area. Families who have been clients in the past are now coming back to the company to help them again when another family member dies – a sure sign that the standards of service are as good as you can get from this small company.

When Paul’s not working his two sons keep him busy and he’s a keen member of the Dover Rotary Club and the Dover Society as well as enjoying golf, cycling, watching movies, listening to rock/blues and playing drums.

Specific Gravity

Paul is not your stereotypical funeral director – if you want him to dress up in Victorian garb then he will, but he’s just as happy to conduct a funeral in something less formal. Paul’s philosophy is “the funeral should not be centred on the funeral director, but in our role as master of ceremonies we need to be identifiable to all mourners.”

He has a nice fleet of vehicles, though “they are not the most important thing. I believe people will remember the behaviour of the drivers far more than the make or model of the car they are driving.” He sees no sense in spending vast amounts of money on updating vehicles just to have the latest model, preferring instead to ensure that the cars he uses are polished and clean, and the prices he charges clients are as fair and reasonable as they can be.

If it’s a budget funeral you want, Paul offers direct cremations from only £995 plus disbursement costs.

What's Important?

Paul’s all about offering choices – he has a big book with pictures of lots of different coffins, vehicles, stationery and keepsakes which he’ll bring out if you want to look through it, and he encourages you to take your time to find the products that are right for you.

The premises of Sullivan and Son are set in a residential neighbourhood – the building in fact was originally a house but over the years was converted for use as a barber’s and then a hairdresser’s before Paul found it. He has done a lot of work to make the premises accessible for people with mobility problems, and made extremely good use of the space available. Light, bright and airy inside, you enter into a small reception area which opens into the office area where there is a round table and a desk.

The decor is a smart and modern  – there is no black and gold solemnity with tinted windows here. On the walls, framed certificates display the diplomas held by both Paul and Julie and there are some old photos of the building as it was years ago and of other funeral directors who are now long gone – Paul loves the historical connections that the photographs conjure up.

Through a door at the side of the office you enter a small lobby leading to the chapel of rest – small and simply decorated, this quiet room has a beautiful contemporary stained glass window created by Derek White, former head of conservation at Canterbury Cathedral.

Behind a locked door is access to the mortuary area, where up to twelve people are cared for at a time, each with their own blanket in the chilled room. There is space for preparing people for their coffins, and access to the rear of the premises for easy transferring to vehicles.

What's Different?

Paul was one of the first funeral directors to offer completely transparent pricing. There is a base cost which covers the work that has to be done for every funeral and after that you just choose the products and services that you need.

If you do this on his website, you’ll see an instant estimate of charges – we believe he was the first in the industry to offer this, and this transparency is something that sets his business apart in the area.

No other local funeral director has their prices displayed online, and we thoroughly applaud this open approach to letting potential clients see how much their bill is likely to be – we wish all funeral directors would offer this.

Paul doesn’t believe in slapping a huge markup on everything that he sells. He has a ‘coffin cover’ which can be used to make a simple cardboard coffin look like a wooden casket.

Everything  important is under one roof at Beaconsfield Road, (the coffin storage and vehicles are elsewhere) and if you want to visit the person who has died out of hours you can do so, just ask Paul.

He’s very thoughtful – the type that gently liberates flowers he sees sweating in cellophane at the crematorium. And every invoice is accompanied by a touching keepsake.

  • Your call will be answered by Paul, Alex, Julie or occasionally Colin.
  • Disabled Access: yes. Including a fully accessible loo.
  • Home Visits: yes
  • Embalming: if needed. Paul’s not a huge fan and will discuss it with you.
  • Continuity of Care: Paul will likely be the person who will answer the phone, collect the person who has died, make the arrangements and conduct the funeral. You can’t get better than this.
  • Family Participation: if you want to come and wash or dress the person who has died that’s fine.
  • Same Sex Person to wash and dress: yes – just ask
  • Ethnic Specialism: they have good experience with helping people from many religious and ethnic groups, including the large Polish community.
  • Local Celebrants: most of their funerals are still conducted by a religious minister but they also have a good selection of excellent celebrants and take time to find the right one for you.
  • Home arranged funerals: because of their pricing structure, you can pick and mix the products and services you want, and Paul is happy to help and offer advice.
  • Education: Paul’s got a Diploma in Funeral Directing (first time pass) and is always looking to improve himself and the service he offers. He talks to the WI and Rotary club.
  • Web site: there’s lots of information on the web site, including the excellent itemised price list and estimator.
  • Client Support: Paul takes part in the annual All Souls’ ceremony at a local church. He has a list of bereavement counsellors should you need one. He has lots of other ideas but is currently limited for space. If you want to pop in and have a cuppa and a chat, you’ll be very welcome.
  • Parking: there is on-street parking available.
  • Direct Cremation: £995 plus £663 disbursements (£164 doctors’ fees, £499 crematorium fee), total of £1,658.00 or, if there has been a post mortem, in which case you do not have to pay doctors’ fees, £1,494.00.

This is one of the very best kinds of independent firms – small, locally-owned and offering lots of choice. Everything is done with enthusiasm, a kind smile and a lot of care, in premises that are quiet and well-appointed.

Over the years, Paul calculates that he has been involved with over 8,000 funerals – that’s eight thousand families who he has helped have as good an experience as they possibly can. Many of them have written to voice their appreciation, and Paul has kept the letters. The huge folder is probably the most important thing in his possession – a reminder every day that the job he so loves is one that really makes a difference to so many people.

We have every confidence that Paul Sullivan and his team will work hard to deliver the send-off you want, at a price that’s hard to beat.

Last reviewed on 4th April 2017.


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.

Sullivan and Son, professional, caring and helpful service

Sullivan and Son were recommended to me following excellent service and I would in turn recommend their services.

From the moment I entered their premises I was made to feel welcome and they immediately put me at ease. This was the first funeral I had arranged and was obviously apprehensive on what I would need to do. They explained all in detail, giving recommendations when needed. They itemised every aspect of the service, and with no hidden costs, I came away from the initial meeting knowing how much the day would cost.
They arranged many aspects of the day, leaving me to concentrate on other aspects, all at a reasonable fee. Again all services were itemised separately, allowing me to easily make decisions on what I needed to be included.

In summary, their professionalism made me feel safe to trust them to deliver all the aspect of the funeral arrangements. And this is invaluable when you are saying goodbye to a loved one. It helped me to grieve with my friends and family.

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Dougie Perkins

Our dad Dougie Perkins passed away 28.12.2017.  Arranging a funeral was a completely new experience for my brother and I.

I telephoned 4  local independent Funeral Directors. 3 out of the 4 were so  impersonal on the telephone I was left feeling even more bereft, shocked and dismayed. Sullivan’s were the only ones to listen to what we wanted, they were sensitive, kind and warm, and they were the only ones who had the empathy, foresight, emotional awareness and intelligence to actually ask questions about dad, and also if we had any men in the family that would wish to be dad’s coffin bearers. Not only a very personal touch, but also another saving on the cost. Its such a sad time for a family, most Funeral Directors seem to want to rush you through it, like a conveyor belt. Sullivans also are the only ones who are totally upfront with their costs, transparent on their website, which is how it should be. Dad’s service was beautiful, poignant and very personal. Sullivans kept in touch every step of the journey, from collecting dad’s body from hospital, to his final departure at Barham. Their warmth, kindness, sensitivity, professionalism was first class throughout, I cant commend them more highly.

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