The construction of a brand new funeral company in Guernsey, Argent Funeral Care has been completed. We caught up with Gary Vaudin, Principal Funeral Director at Argent Funeral Care, to find out more about the project.
With 29 years experience in the funeral business Gary Vaudin set up Argent Funeral Services Ltd and purchased a redundant pub in Guernsey in a bid to realise a long held ambition of his; to set up his own funeral business. However shortly into the project Gary was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to gain any development finance for the conversion. As a result he made the decision to sell the company and the premises to The Channel Islands Co-operative Society.
“I bought the pub, previously known as The Hangman’s Inn, because it is on a busy arterial crossroads in the centre of Guernsey. It is 200 metres away from the main hospital on the island and located within a cluster of nursing homes, as well as being nearby the island’s psychiatric hospital and care of the elderly hospital.
“Since opening in September this year we have seen a huge upturn in business. We are the only funeral company on the island which is located in a very prominent position.”
Before selling the company to The Channel Islands Co-operative Society Gary commissioned Brian Tyrell, from Tyrell Dowinton & Associates, who also happens to be Gary’s future son in law, to draw up the plans for the funeral company. The site was designed in accordance with the NHS’ Health Building Note 20 which relates to post mortem rooms and mortuaries; thanks to Brian’s design the team achieved planning permission.
When The Channel Islands Co-operative Society purchased the business, Digby Gibbs Architects were appointed to revise the scheme to meet their particular requirements. This included re-planning the internal layout and demolition of parts of the old building that were not suitable for conversion. A revised planning consent was required before works could progress. The existing 3-storey building was retained and refurbished but most of the single storey out-buildings were replaced with purpose built single storey structures to accommodate the chapel of rest, mortuary, body fridge and spacious garage. The main contractor was R G Falla of Guernsey who provided the expertise and adaptability necessary to tackle the inevitable problems that arise when converting and extending an old building within a very restricted site.
Part of the previous public bar space also had to be demolished because there were no proper foundations laid. As a result new foundations were laid and the walls were rebuilt to the same dimensions.
The building, which has been topped with a pitched roof, comprises disabled toilet facilities, an office and in-office canteen style kitchen, post mortem rooms and mortuaries, as well as garages and storage space. We asked Gary what it meant to see Argent Funeral Care up and running; he said: “This has been the realisation of a long held ambition and dream to get a new funeral home in a prominent position on the island and get it up and running. I’ve always wanted to do this and now we have got something which is exactly what I wanted. Despite the complications I am still in the driving seat, as well as being two and a half years in remission, and The Co-operative is benefitting from my expertise in funeral service.”