William Bevan - An eighth generation business

By Ross Gazette reporter in Business

Eight generations of Bevans have overseen the funeral arrangements for hundreds of Ross-on-Wye families since William Bevan started the Ross-on-Wye company in 1792.

Today, the family business is run by brothers, Philip and Stuart, who took over from their father, Roger. He was extremely well-known in Ross and St Mary’s Church was packed with 700 mourners for his funeral. Several ministers wanted to lead the service or contribute, as Roger was so well-thought of. Roger’s wife, Ann was also well-known through her work with the company. There is even a planter on Gloucester Road in her memory.

The Bevan’s office is also their family home and they have deep roots in the town, but they are constantly looking forward. They have a new Chapel of Rest and several new vehicles as they start their 225th year.

When Bevans began the company they were builders as well as undertakers and, as well as making their own coffins on the premises, they built many of the houses in the town.

Niki Swallow makes up the third full-time member of staff at Bevans but they also have eight part-time bearers who attend funerals as and when they are needed. Former bearer Wally Nolan had worked with Roger and his sons for over 30 years before he retired last year.

Niki has lived in Ross all her life and knows many of the people who come in to arrange funerals. She said that generations of the same families use Bevans and as they keep detailed records of all the funerals they conduct they can refer to former family members’ funerals if required.

However Bevans also deal with lots of new families as Ross expands and more people move to the town, Nicky said many people like to use an independent funeral company. They can arrange virtually anything such as a bagpiper, even taking coffins in different kinds of vehicles. They have arranged funerals for several famous Ross residents such as Noele Gordon, Dennis Potter and Peter Gordon Lawrence, and in all kinds of weather conditions.

Niki said: “Every funeral is different as we try to work with the family to ensure they get the kind of funeral they want. People say ’I could not do your job’ but I feel it is a privilege to help and guide people at such a terrible time, and to ensure that their loved one gets the funeral that they would want.”

As well as serving the community of Ross for 225 years, William Bevan Funeral Directors, support as many businesses and community events as possible, as well as sponsoring the Ross Juniors U11s Girls football team.

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