Century-old funeral directors joins respected name in a historical move

A funeral directors that has served the Newtownards community for over 100 years and conducted the funeral of beloved local and World War II hero Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne has joined a fellow Funeral Partners funeral business to expand what it can do for families in these trying times.

Doggarts of Newtownards Funeral Directors will now be known as John Gray & Co Funeral Directors in Newtownards to bolster its long-time cooperation with the business’ funeral homes in Bangor and Holywood.

Caroline Grierson, Funeral Arranger at the Newtownards premises, said: “Because of our location we have worked closely with the John Gray & Co branches as part of the Funeral Partners network, such as by taking care of the families they serve when needed and vice versa.

“Now, with the unprecedented number of families needing our support during the pandemic, the time has come to unite under one name and strengthen what we can do for our communities. The same compassionate team and high-quality service will be here for the people of Ards and the North Down area, with a greater capability than ever before.”

Doggarts of Newtownards was founded by William Lamont Doggart in 1910 and run by successive generations of his family for many years.

In 1955 the business gained recognition for proudly conducting the funeral of decorated World War II hero Lt Col Robert Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne, a beloved Newtownards local who served in the North Africa campaign and was a founding member of the SAS.

In 2012 the funeral directors, formerly of Francis Street, set up in Regent House, which was once Regent House School, and found many of the families it serves had attended the school, with Lt Col Blair Mayne being among the notable alumni.

Caroline said: “A number of families are drawn to this building and it’s fascinating to hear their memories of it. A lot of them tell me our service room is the old chemistry lab, while the main office used to be their headmaster’s room.”

The funeral directors joined Funeral Partners, the family of high-quality funeral businesses, in 2019 and have always placed community at the centre of its ethos. At Christmas, the team donated 200 chocolate selection boxes for community associations to distribute to children around Ards. The team also regularly support community and sporting initiatives within the area and are keen to hear from groups hoping for support.

Caroline and her team now look forward to organising more community initiatives and strengthening their services as part of John Gray & Co. She concluded: “John Gray & Co is an incredible funeral directors that aligns with our core values. We couldn’t team up with a more dedicated group of professionals.”