A FLEDGLING funeral director company has opened up in suitable premises in St Neots – at the entrance to the town’s expanding cemetery.

A FLEDGLING funeral director company has opened up in suitable premises in St Neots – at the entrance to the town's expanding cemetery.

Kingfisher Independent Funeral Services, a one-man business started by Andrew Hickson, who lives in St Neots and has more than 20 years experience of the profession, claims his company is the only locally-owned funeral director in St Neots.

Mr Hickson has leased and restored Gate Lodge, in Cemetery Road, St Neots, which is owned by St Neots Town Council and had lain empty and disused for several years.

St Ives undertaker Dennis Easton, who died some years ago ran a branch of his business there from 1983 when it was sold, and the premises was then used for community purposes, latterly as a centre for local disabled people.

Mr Hickson said: “More and more funeral providers are being bought out by larger companies, but they still operate under their original names, which makes it very difficult to know exactly who you are dealing with. As soon as a company becomes non-local, pressure is put on those who manage it, prices rise, and targets have to be met.

“Arranging a funeral should not be pressured by commercial demands, but a personal and relaxed experience, with the emphasis on doing what is right for the deceased and his or her family.”

He added: “It is with immense pride and privilege that I am able to offer this facility to those who need a funeral director, whether they are looking for a traditional service, or something more modern.”

He has converted the old building into offices and a chapel-of-rest. Being so close to the cemetery means bereaved families can save the cost of vehicles for the cortège – though he will hire them in if necessary, along with the drivers who act as bearers.

Eco-friendly cardboard coffins look set to be a speciality.

INFORMATION: Kingfisher Independent Funeral Services, Gate Lodge, Cemetery Road, St Neots, PE19 2BX, telephone 01480 471001, e-mail info@kingfisherfunerals.co.uk; www.kingfisherfunerals.co.uk