James Dykes Funeral Service, in Newmilns, East Ayrshire, and Firmager Funeral Service in New Romney, Kent, have chosen to become part of the UK’s third largest funeral services provider.
James Dykes, a former coal merchant, started his business in 1961, and was joined by his second cousin George Collins in 1984. Mr Dykes died in 1999, a year after his retirement leaving George to take over running the business. He has continued to serve the historic town of Newmilns and the surrounding Irvine Valley, supported by long-serving Funeral Service Operative Jack Steel, who has been with James Dykes for 25 years.
George said: “I enjoy meeting members of the public and being able to help them. I know most of the people in the community. But I wanted to slow down a bit and Funeral Partners was recommended to me.”
Founded in 2000, by experienced and well-known funeral directors Bert Firmager and Michael Owen, Firmager Funeral Service quickly became established serving the communities of New Romney, Dymchurch and Lydd in Kent.
Michael’s widow Wendy Alder, who had worked in the social care sector for many years, took over running the business in 2009 after both Michael and Bert died.
The established team at Firmager maintains strong links with the local community, with funeral director Phil Tanner a volunteer with HM Coastguard and senior funeral arranger Helen Carr chairing the St Mary in the Marsh Project Fund which is raising money for a new village hall. Pam Mellor serves on the committee of the New Romney traders’ association.
Wendy Alder said: “Funeral Partners wanted us to retain our community involvement. Although we are no longer independent, we still have that philosophy when we interact with local families. It was important to us that, although we have implemented new processes, they allowed us to continue to maintain our individuality.”
Funeral Partners’ chief executive officer Sam Kershaw said: “We are delighted to be investing in two established and successful businesses with outstanding professional reputations, which are committed to serving their communities at opposite ends of the country.
“We are particularly looking to grow our presence in Scotland by welcoming quality funeral businesses into the Funeral Partners family.”