One of Ballynahinch’s oldest family-run businesses, Douglas Funeral Directors, has officially opened new, purpose-built funeral premises at Dromore Road.
The project represents a £0.5 million investment by partners Bill and Anne Reid, who took over the running of the business in 1991 and the building was officially opened by Mr Reid’s uncle, Billy Douglas, son of Hugh Robinson Douglas, who established Douglas Funeral Directors in Ballynahinch in 1926.
The new premises, on the site of a former filling station, were designed by local architect Robert Semple and include a 150-seat funeral church, three private grieving rooms, office suites and a large reception area.
The latest technology has also been incorporated to provide an internet live feed and archive facility, which allows those unable to attend a funeral service to view it live online or at a later time.
Speaking to the 170 guests at the launch, Bill Reid said: “It was our aim from the outset to provide a facility for the whole of the community and I hope we have been successful in making the offering non-denominational.
“The loss of a loved one is always a difficult time and it was important that we created something to meet all needs in terms of respect, dignity and privacy.”
Mr Reid highlighted the fact that Douglas Funeral Directors as a firm had been in existence for 87 years.
He added, “My uncle, Billy Douglas this year celebrated his 89th birthday and has been involved in the Douglas family business for over 75 years. He and his late wife, my Auntie Rita, have always been such an example and encouragement to us, ever ready with the best advice and wisdom when needed and so willing to help when asked.”
Themselves marking 22 years in the funeral business, Mr Reid and his wife Anne also recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
“Almost seven years ago,” he said, “Anne and I became involved in Ronnie Thompson Funeral Directors Lisburn. There, with the full range of facilities we serve the whole community and we became more aware of the need to relocate elsewhere in Ballynahinch.
“Our ambition was to provide a non-denominational Funeral Home with excellent facilities for the disabled, good parking, a good headstone and monument display, an arrangement room with relaxed seating, comfortable and tastefully decorated rooms for the deceased to repose, a funeral church which would comfortably seat 150 and could be extended to seat 180, where provision may be made for refreshments wether a family receives friends the evening before a funeral or after the funeral service, where a slideshow of key photographs of a life can be played on the screen before the service, the ability to podcast a service live via a link on our website from anywhere in the world, or where it could be recorded and viewed later.
“This is now all available here - a funeral home for the whole community of mid-Down.”
Mr Reid went on to thank a number of people, among them his mother, without whom, he said, he would probably never have come into the funeral business; his wife and family; Eric and the late Joy Campbell for selling Douglas’s to Anne and himself and Ronnie and Jeane Thompson and Campbell Thompson, “for showing us”, he said, “that nothing less than the best in the funeral profession is good enough”.