Walter C. Parson Funeral Directors is proudly celebrating 180 years of dedicated service to local communities throughout Devon and Cornwall.
Little could Richard Walter Parson have imagined in 1842 when he set up business in Stoke Climsland, Cornwall, that some 180 years later the enterprise would still be running under the same family name.
The succeeding generations consisted of his son – John Walter – and his son – Oscar Walter – and his son – Walter Cyril – and his son and daughter – Wally and Sylvia Parson (known as Pat).
Walter C. Parson Funeral Directors is proudly celebrating 180 years of dedicated service to local communities throughout Devon and Cornwall. (– )
Today the business is under the custodianship of Pat’s son – Stephen Ware, her husband – Graham May and her Grandson – John Ware.
From the family home at St. Judes, Plymouth, the business expanded during the 70’s and 80’s at first to Plympton, then Crownhill and Ivybridge, so there were four offices in and around Plymouth.
In 1999 Wally wanted to retire and Pat, Graham and Stephen bought the business from Wally to make sure it stayed in the family and continued to run as a family owned business.
Pat, Graham and Stephen made a conscious decision to continue their predecessors ethos but knew they had to do more than this to move forward, so made a plan to expand the business whilst at the same time making a determined effort to recruit quality staff and train them to the exacting standards of WCP.
The Company set up a school managed today by David Parslow who is a national tutor with the British Institute of Funeral Directors.
To date this has produced many qualified funeral directors and embalmers, many of whom still work for the firm – and two of the staff gained the award for achieving the highest marks in the country in their particular exam.
It turned out that the next generation of qualified staff were to be needed very quickly.
Walter C. Parson were on the acquisition trail, buying Pidgen & Son in Torpoint in 2003, Hugh Mills & Gaye with offices in Newton Abbot and Torquay in 2006, Pengelly Funeral Service in Saltash in 2007 and Tavistock & District in 2010. Premises in Exeter were purchased in late 2013 which opened in March 2015 after a complete refurbishment.
The Old Police Station, Callington opened in April 2019 and an extension was added to the garage at Torpoint to accommodate the growing fleet of vehicles in 2020. Finally, the old Barton Surgery, Plymstock was opened in June 2021.
The firm had grown from 4 offices in 1999 to 12 offices by the end of 2021.
At an event held to mark this momentous occasion, Stephen Ware, Managing Director gave a speech, saying “We have invested in people, facilities and premises. Today we have 12 offices, 18 funeral vehicles included in the total of 40 vehicles in our fleet and conduct nearly 1,300 funerals annually across the South West Peninsula.
“In today’s cut and thrust business world – there are few companies left who can look back on a history of more than a century and three quarters. Fewer still whose business has stayed in the same family for seven generations and I am very proud that Walter C. Parson has managed to reach that rare milestone.”
David Parslow, who starting working for the Company in 1981, has now taken over the running of the Newton Abbot branch and brings with him a wealth of experience and professionalism.
David qualified as an embalmer is 1984 and gained his Diploma in Funeral Directing in 1985, later becoming a Tutor for The British Institute of Funeral Directors in 2010 and was awarded a Fellowship of the Institute for services to education in 2013.
Joanna Turpin (Exeter Funeral Director), David Parslow (Newton Abbot), Debbie from Rowcroft Hospice and Lesley MacNamara (Newton Abbot). (– )
To mark their 180th anniversary locally, Walter C. Parson’s Newton Abbot branch held a very successful open day where members of the public, nursing home staff and local clergy were given a guided tour of their purpose-built facilities in King Street.
A raffle held on the day raised £200 for Rowcroft Hospice. Subsequently a coffee morning was organised by funeral director Alison Hanson, raising another £224 for the hospice.