Young entrepreneur opens funeral service in Wantage

The Oxford Times: Funeral director James McGee, 25, is due to open Wantage Funeral Service Funeral director James McGee, 25, is due to open Wantage Funeral Service

A YOUNG entrepreneur is opening a funeral directors which he hopes will rival the national chains.

James McGee, 25, from Grove, is due to open Wantage Funeral Service (WFS) on Monday at Orchard House in Portway, the former office of Wantage and Didcot MP Ed Vaizey.

As one of the country’s youngest funeral directors, he hopes to provide a personal and affordable service which he thinks is missing in the market.

Mr McGee has worked in the business since he was 15, including seven years at Co-operative Funeralcare.

Mr McGee’s mother, Kay, died when he was just 15, but he still remembers the personal touches at her funeral.

He said: “I wanted to repay that service to the profession.

“I felt that I could do that through my personal experience.”

He added: “I don’t find it a grim business.

“It is a lovely feeling to know you have helped someone out at a difficult time.”

He started working at Faringdon funeral directors A E Baker & Sons in 2002.

In 2005, the independent was taken over by Co-operative Funeralcare, and in 2009 Mr McGee went to work as a funeral director at the chain’s Oxford offices.

When Mr McGee’s father, John, died in 2011, the funeral, organised by colleagues, cost £3,600.

He will run the WFS with his girlfriend and business partner, Kerryn Scarrott, 17, from Grove.

Mr McGee has started the business with his own savings and a little help from his friends. His £10,000 annual rent will be his largest outgoing.

Because his business will have a budget below £62,000, he will not pay business rates for the first year.

His set-up costs, including decorating and furnishing his new offices, have come in under £6,000.

His predicted turnover for the first year is between £35,000 and £46,000.

As for market research, Mr McGee took a look at recent census data, and discovered a growing population in Wantage. Other than that, he is hoping local support will help bring in business.

“People want to look after the local and I hope that is the same here,” he said.

Miss Scarrott, a former trainee dental nurse, said: “It is a family company, so I thought I would jump on the band wagon. I wanted to help it expand, and I have got a lot of reception experience, which is important.

“I am looking forward to it.”

In Wantage, the other funeral directors are H J Knapp & Sons, owned by national chain Dignity, the Co-operative Funeralcare in Grove, and independent R & H Barker in Charlton.

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