Our review from "The Good Funeral Guide"
Pearce Funeral Services
Address: 92 Ermin Street, Stratton St Margaret, Swindon, SN3 4NN
This is a comparatively new business (established in 2009) 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. 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.” In addition to his vocational commitment to his work, which is wholehearted, John also has over 20 years’ experience.
Premises are bright and welcoming. John has opted for neutral decor. There are no pictures on the walls, just a few professional certificates to 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, you values or your wishes. The decor is as open-minded as he is.
John is very capably assisted by David Bashford, who occupies a number of vital roles and is, like John, a thoroughly nice person.
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.
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. 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 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.
First contact: Your call, day or night, will be answered by either John or David.
Home visits: No problem -- most people hereabouts like to make arrangements in their home.
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. No prices, though.
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.
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 decent people who will put you first in everything.