W. G. Potter belongs to the family of Eric & Joyce Dunford and Julian & Karen Hussey, who own and between them are director in six funeral homes, four in East Devon and two in West Dorset. The business has grown as retiring family funeral directors, recognising the qualities and values of the family, have asked them to carry on their work, and W. G. Potter has been run by the family since 1992. All the funeral homes remain embedded in their communities and are staffed by local people.
There are four directors of the business: Eric & Joyce Dunford, Joyce’s son, Julian and his wife, Karen. Eric and Joyce have now stepped back from the day-to-day running of the funeral homes, but they retain a strong interest. Eric is Bridport born and bred, as is Julian. Joyce was born in the Marshwood Vale. Karen and Julian met when they were students at England’s leading college for funeral directors.
We find them to be warm, utterly genuine people who want the best for their clients and bring out the best in their staff. Julian and Karen are very normal, natural people — and both have a good sense of humour. They have one sports-mad, school-age son, a daughter who is an apprentice hairdresser and a lovely chocolate labrador called Archie, who is often to be found at whichever branch they are working at.
Away from work, Julian is a longstanding member of Round Table. He is the chairman of the youth section of the rugby club where his son plays — and sometimes they let him drive the majorette van for the troupe his daughter is involved with. Karen’s ‘leisure’ activities are also family-centred. She is involved with the majorettes, is often to be seen making bacon sarnies for rugby players and enjoys taking part in local amateur shows.
Julian and Karen are committed to ethical conduct in the way they run their business. They will treat you fairly — they are passionate about straight dealing. Their pricing structure is transparent and is posted on their website. They will not sting you for hidden extras, they don’t take commission from their suppliers or any monies in advance. Many funeral directors will collect 10 per cent of the price of the flowers from their florist. As Karen says, “With us you get 10 per cent more flowers.” They have no objection to you buying your coffin on the internet (most funeral directors hate this) but, if you want to do that, be very careful who you buy from. See our Coffins page. Once you have agreed your arrangements, you will be given a proper estimate (in writing) and you will at no time be pressured to spend more than you have budgeted for.
Julian and Karen are hands-on with the running of the business and arrange and conduct Funerals in all the towns where they have interests. If you’d like either of them to look after you then you only have to ask. They are firm believers in good training for their staff and quality service for families and staunch supporters of the NAFD, the National Association of Funeral Directors. Both Julian and Karen hold the NAFD Diploma in Funeral Directing.
The administrator at W. G. Potter is Kay Pike. If Julian or Karen are not available, she will take your details and arrange for them to contact you straight away. Kay lives in Axminster, and knows many local people – she joined the company in 2014.
There is nothing remotely forbidding and hushed and spooky about the funeral home. It’s on busy West Street, and there is a constant bustle of people and traffic outside, but when you enter the premises, all is calm. Kay’s desk is in the reception area, and there is a small private arranging room with blinds to screen out the outside world and comfortable sofas. Further back there is the chapel of rest, and behind that the mortuary area with refrigeration.
If it’s a traditional funeral you want, that’s what you’ll get. Your funeral director will dress extremely smartly for the occasion and lead the procession in the customary manner. The vehicles will be Jaguars, and very handsome they are, too. If, on the other hand, you’d like something different or more alternative or less formal, that’s no problem at all. They’ll be governed by your wishes and they’ll do as you ask — willingly.
The focus will always be on giving you what you want. You will be able to explore choices and consider all the options. You will be offered guidance, but your funeral director will not take over. You will be given informed advice about other service providers who are right for you, from celebrants to caterers to florists. You will always be treated with courtesy and respect, and you will be encouraged to take all the time you need.
The only funeral director in Axminster belonging to the NAFD and quite possibly the only funeral homes in Dorset and Devon that publish their prices openly on their website – and offer you a copy to take away with you.
We especially like the way they put your wishes and interests first in everything. A business consultant would advise them to have just one mortuary for their four Devon funeral homes to enable them to maximise their profits, but they won’t do that because they don’t think you’d like it. Each funeral home is completely self-contained and people who have died rest in the town where they passed away, in the same premises where you make the arrangements.
You’ll find that your funeral director will be very happy to go the extra mile for you in all sorts of ways — at no extra charge. If, for example, you would like the funeral to be arranged and conducted by the funeral director at another branch — because, perhaps, he or she conducted a funeral for your family some time ago — that’s no problem, they will drive on over for you.
If you want to come and visit the person who has died in the evening, that’s no problem. Make an appointment and take all the time you like.
• Embalming – Not as a matter of routine. Only when it is your wish and / or the Funeral Director feel it is necessary, in which case, they will talk it through with you.
• Continuity of Care – The person with whom you arrange the funeral will lead the cortege on the day except in exceptional circumstances. If it can’t be that person, then the funeral director who will be in charge on the day will introduce him/herself well in advance.
• Family Participation – If you want to carry the coffin, they’ll show you how. If you’d like to come in and wash and dress the person who has died, they’ll be there for you. If you’d just like to come in do their hair, that’s absolutely no problem. They believe in empowering you to do what you want and they help you in any way they can.
• Same sex person to wash and dress? – Yes, if you want. No problem. Just ask.
• Ethnic Specialism – Knowledgeable about the funeral customs of all faith groups, and every branch has the facilities for ritual cleansing, etc.
• Local Celebrants – Excellent local celebrants to choose from if you do not want a religious minister.
• Home arranged funerals – Will gladly work with you in any way you want if you who wish to care for the person who has died at home: see the Do It All Yourself section of the Good Funeral Guide website.
• Website – Lots of useful info well set out. All prices shown, a custom all-too-rare in the funerals business.
• Client Support – After the funeral, call in anytime for a cuppa – they’ll always be pleased to see you. If you need a bit of extra support, they’ll put you in touch with people who can help.
• Money matters – Not the cheapest, but then there’s nothing bargain-basement about the service you’ll get. By no means the most expensive, either. Shop around — you owe it to yourself to do that — and you’ll find them very competitively priced. Considering the value of the experience you will receive, we reckon them good value for money. If money is a problem they’ll do their very best to help you. The only way they can do that is if you are completely upfront about your situation, so don’t hold back. If you need to apply to the Social Fund for a Funeral Payment, they’ll guide you through the paperwork. If you’d like to pay for your funeral in advance, they sell Perfect Choice funeral plans, one of only two funeral plans we believe to be absolutely safe and reliable.
Parking – Your best bet is probably the pay-and-display by the Co-op.
All the feel of a family funeral director and all the hallmarks of an extremely well-run business with a very big heart. A funeral home that’s completely in tune with its community, staffed by exceptionally kind and knowledgeable people you will feel comfortable with.
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.
Tuesday 4th April 2017 at 4:59 pm
My family and I warmed to your calm professionalism and ability to carry out such an emotional situation in a very caring way. Thank you.
Tuesday 4th April 2017 at 4:30 pm
Extremely happy with all aspects of the service you provided.
Tuesday 4th April 2017 at 4:26 pm
Thank you very much for the professional and caring service that we received at this difficult time. I would definitely recommend your services to other people.
Monday 23rd January 2017 at 2:45 pm
excellent service and very easy to deal with. Really helpful at this sad time.
many thank also to Sue Jackman for conducting the service so well and arranging the music.
Just over the Surrey border in East Hampshire, and within easy reach of South London, Heatherley Wood is a pretty natural burial ground, where graves can be chosen in either the meadow and heathland or beneath mature trees in the woodland area.
The mixed woodland site was once part of the National Trust’s Ludshott Common, a lowland heathland of international designation, and the landscape has an open sunny aspect in the meadow area, with meandering paths among large gorse bushes that provide seclusion and privacy in the heathland area. A natural stone roadway leads down to the beautiful woodland area, where the tall trees offer shade in the summer and a peaceful tranquillity punctuated by birdsong from the treetops.
When we visited, the abundant foxgloves and wild daffodils were emerging in the spring sunlight, splashing colour among the fallen leaves. Newly planted bluebells will colonise the area over the coming years, and there are wooden benches where visitors can sit and feel the peace of being at one with nature.
The site is staffed daily during the week (and open at weekends by appointment) by deputy manager Jess Rothwell and her colleague Bianca Stacey. They can normally be found either in their little office inside the striking, purpose designed building that houses all the facilities on site, or out walking in the woodland or heathland explaining the ethos of the site to visitors.
Both Jess and Bianca are passionate about Heatherley Wood; they see how the beautiful setting and the service they can offer families has an effect on those who choose to bury a relative here. The lovely Woodland Service Hall can be used even by families who prefer cremation, as it can be hired for a ceremony before the coffin goes on to the crematorium at a later time.
There is no feeling of being rushed here. Heatherley Wood only carries out one or two funerals on any given day and complimentary tea and coffee is always available for guests. You can choose to have a reception here after the burial has taken place too, something that removes the pressure of driving between venues and allows the whole experience of a funeral to be less stressful.
Jess and Bianca are far more than just office staff. They are immensely kind and welcoming, and more than happy to talk to you about Heatherley Wood and the concept behind it. Jess is a former carer who had experience working with a funeral director, while Bianca was formerly a customer service manager in a small family owned business. Both are completely focused on providing exceptional service to clients and visitors alike.
Their roles encompass spending time with bereaved people listening to their stories and explaining the concept of woodland burial to curious visitors, on funeral days they look after all the guests and the family, operate the music system and assist the undertakers, guiding them throughout the journey, from arrival to the burial and ensuring that the bearers receive a welcome cup of tea while the ceremony is underway.
The staff always accompany the coffin to the grave, and one person will stay alongside the grave when mourners leave, ensuring that the coffin is never left alone. The gravedigger will be discretely nearby, and only approach on a signal from either Jess or Bianca when they are sure that it is time to fill the grave in.
The overall manager of Heatherley Wood is Peter Taylor who shares his time between here and the other site that he manages, Chiltern Woodland Burial Park. Peter has been with the company for eight years and has a wealth of experience looking after many hundreds of families during this time. He has an easy manner and a warmth that is infectious, and a knack of instantly putting people at ease. Peter’s management style is relaxed and supportive, and he is always at the other end of a phone for Jess and Bianca if he’s not physically on site.
Graves at Heatherley Wood are prepared to double depth, allowing two people to be buried in the same space if this is what a family wishes. If there is to be only one burial in a grave it can be prepared to single depth. Ashes can be either buried in small ashes graves, or scattered in a dedicated scattering area in the woodland. Both graves and ashes plots can be marked with a short wooden post or memorial plaque, the type depending on the location of the plot.
The 12 acre site was officially opened in June 2015 and is managed by GreenAcres Burial Parks on behalf of East Hampshire District Council, and is the culmination of an innovative project to reclaim a piece of land lost to industry and to provide a viable alternative to a local shortage of burial space.
Extensive landscaping and planting work took place before the site opened, and the surroundings continue to be enhanced by ongoing addition of wildflowers, trees and shrubs to the existing mature plants.
The GreenAcres concept of woodland burial is based upon principles of sustainability, biodiversity, quality of service and customer choice, and the company operates four other burial parks around the UK.