The Douch Family Tree
1910 – FC Douch
Frederick Charles Douch started out as a cabinetmaker in 1910. Skilled in carpentry, he was often called upon to help the bereaved by making coffins for the dearly departed. As time went on, he became more involved with the associated aspects of funerals.
Now, 108 years later, the award-winning, familyrun firm of funeral directors is celebrating a long history of success and growth, headed by managing director Nick Douch.
The War Years – Jack Douch
Nick says, “My grandfather, also a Frederick, but known as Jack, was given the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps and served an apprenticeship. However, he enlisted during the Second World War, as did Mr Jolliffe who ran a nearby funeral directors in Ferndown. Whilst away fighting for their country, Frederick Senior looked after both businesses.”
1960s – AE Jolliffe, Ferndown
After the war, a closer working relationship developed between them and in the early-60s, Jolliffe sold the business to Jack Douch.”
1960s – James Smith, Swanage
Fast forward a few years, and FC Douch purchased James Smith Funeral Directors in Swanage.
The funeral side grew alongside the original furniture company, which also sold furnishings. From Portsmouth to Weston Super-Mare, the Douch family made their mark in many stately homes.
“Jack was innovative,” says Nick. “In the 60s and 70s he visited Scandinavia to see how people’s tastes in furnishings were changing.”
Noting a shift in the market as large chain stores grew in popularity, Jack gradually closed his shops. The last one to shut its doors was in Wimborne Square in the early 90s. But, forward-thinking as always, funeral plans, which were becoming buzz words in the 80s had been introduced by the Douch Family.
1999 – Albert Marsh, Wareham and Upton
In 1999, Douch took over Albert Marsh in Wareham and Upton. Albert had started his funeral business in the 1800s and Douch retained his great nephew, Jonathan Stretch, as a valuable member of staff. He now sits on the board of directors.
2001 – Lesley Shand Corfe Mullen
In 2001, the growing Douch family acquired Lesley Shand in Corfe Mullen.
2005 – Ives & Shand (Anthony Ives), Parkstone
The next purchase was Anthony Ives in Parkstone. The name was changed to Ives & Shand.
2010 – Charles Small Wimborne
In 2010, the third generation of Smalls of Wimborne, Martin Small, retired. The Douch Family preserved the ‘Small’ family heritage and combined it with the Douch name to create Douch & Small.
2015 – Lesley Shand Blandford
Five years later, Douch Family Funeral Directors opened a new branch of Lesley Shand in Blandford, incorporating a service chapel.
The most recent investment within the group was completed this year with the rebuilding of Lesley Shand in Corfe Mullen. Like Blandford and Parkstone, it also has a purpose-built service chapel, where families can say their final farewells in an intimate setting without the worry of having to make way for the next funeral. Also, using the service chapel instead of booking a crematorium service can save up to £200. The average cost of a funeral is between £3,500 and £4,000.
Being the newest development, an innovative system has been introduced in Corfe Mullen. Families wishing to visit the chapel of rest can do so by using an entry card. This avoids having to call the funeral director to make an appointment. Nick says the system allows relatives to visit at any time, “even in the middle of the night. If they want to see their loved one, they can let themselves in.” This is a great comfort for those reluctant to telephone a funeral director in the early hours to ask for access.
One of the biggest changes in the profession, says Nick, is the way people view funerals. “In years gone by, a funeral would be steeped in a tradition with each one being similar to the last. The procedure was almost sacrosanct. Today, no two funerals are the same. There are so many options available.”
Douch Family Funeral Directors also like to be involved with the community. “Across the group we try and do our bit,” says Nick. “Whether that is sponsoring sports clubs, leagues and events, holding bereavement group sessions, organising community functions or doing charity work.”
When it comes to saying that final goodbye, funeral costs, especially if someone dies without having set the money aside, can create an added pressure on relatives at a time when they are least able to cope. This can be overcome by planning ahead, and though no one wants to think about their end of life, investing in a funeral plan is a wise solution.
As already mentioned, the Douch Family have been offering their own funeral plans since the 1980s. “A plan will guarantee the funeral directors’ costs,” explains Nick. “And there is a contribution towards third party costs, such as the cremation or burial.
“Unfortunately,” he adds, “there is a growing trend of advisors who will take a hefty arrangement fee. This is unnecessary. If you are thinkni g of purchasing a funeral plan, you should speak to a funeral director.”
But if there is no plan in place and you need to arrange a funeral, Nick’s advice is, “Take time to give it thought. You don’t have to rush a funeral. Speak to different funeral directors. It’s important to feel a connection with them and for them to come across as being the right people to carry out any last wishes.
“We will do our best to accommodate everyone. We don’t operate a diary, we try our best to suit the family’s needs,” he says.
So with over 100 years of helping families with funeral arrangements, it’s not surprising that MP Michael Tomlinson recently nominated a branch of the Douch Family group for a national award. Fought over by 20 major companies, Lesley Shand Corfe Mullen was runner up to Zurich Insurance in the All Party Corporate Responsibility Group’s ‘Responsible Business Champion’ title.
Michael Tomlinson will also be officially opening the new-look premises (pictured) on 4 May (delayed from March due to the snow).
The Douch Family tree includes many different names, yet the group retains that personal, local touch within its eight Dorset branches. It can clearly be seen that the development from cabinetmaker to funeral directors was a logical and highly successful one.
For further information please contact FC Douch on 01202 882936 or visit www.funeraldirector.co.uk