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A Dead Good Number

A dead good number

What can you possibly buy as a gift for someone who has spent 40 years in the funeral trade, if you want the present to have some relevance to that person’s profession, yet still be something they don’t already have?

That was the question that had the Managing Director of L.T & R Vowles, and many of his staff, scratching their heads.

In a matter of weeks, director Darryl Farr would be celebrating 40 years service to the company.

The solution was revealed to them when Darryl arrived at work one morning in his car bearing the personal registration D1 LTR. His colleagues decided that a slightly more inventive number plate would be an ideal way to acknowledge his contribution to the company and the trade.

The search began to find an appropriate number. They searched the website and were encouraged to see the range of options available. Their mission ended abruptly when they came acrossCOF 1N. It was, they decided, perfect for Darryl, who is known for his quick quips and ability to entertain and amuse his customers. His colleagues thought that the gift might just help him to do that.

Since receiving the plates, Darryl has not been shy about displaying them. He brings them to the attention of every colleague and visitor to the company who may not yet have noticed. Reactions vary from delight and admiration to stark disapproval. Whereas one funeral director remarked that COF 1N was the best number plate he had ever seen on a car, Darryl’s wife will simply not drive the vehicle while it bears that number.

Darryl Farr first started work at L.T & R Vowles at 8am on a sunny Monday morning in August 1968. He began by making lids in the coffin shop, working his way up to yard foreman before being promoted to transport manager. One of his ambitions was to exceed his father’s fine track record of 20 years service in one trade.

Before long, Darryl was given the responsibility of managing the factory, and was eventually made director of Vowles in 2002. Darryl’s years of service have allowed him to gain experience in nearly every facet of the trade, and to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the company’s products and a unique understanding of clients’ individual and personal needs.

L.T. & R Vowles is a leading coffin and casket manufacturer, supplying products nationwide. Founded in 1937 as timber merchants, L.T & R Vowles has flourished spectacularly since its establishment by two brothers in Bristol Road, Gloucester. The company has seen and survived many national crises and recessions. During the Second World War, the Ministry of Defence commandeered Vowles to use speciality lines of English ash for aeroplane propellers, produce timber for beachhead landings and manufacture coffin boards. Somewhat later, Vowles was able to refine its output, producing wood furniture, railway wagons, mining timbers, and crafted seasoned coffin boards for funeral directors from the ready supply of English elm by 1947.

It was the recession of the 1960’s, and the sweeping effects of the diseases that decimated the population of elm trees, that transformed Vowles’ into the firm it is today. Due to a declining availability of traditional elm coffin timber and a slump in homegrown sawmills, a market grew for the supply of ready-made coffins to funeral directors, saving the need to source seasoned elm for their personal production. The decision was made that Vowles should specialise as coffin makers, and the current factory at Longdon Heath, Upton-Upon-Severn, Worcester was established.

The company now manufactures coffins and caskets from both solid timber and veneer and has gone from strength to strength, modernising and updating to stay at the forefront of the trade. The company has attracted custom from across the UK, and has enjoyed great success.

In addition to Darryl’s fine personal registration, the entire fleet of Vowles vehicles has now been fitted with cherished plates. After the acquisition of X1 LTR, so chosen because Vowles’ sister companies have all chosen plates starting with an X followed by initials, the plates X10 LTR and X100 LTR were acquired to complement D1 LTR, thus creating a professional looking fleet in which Vowles can take pride. The company’s drivers are very pleased with the plates, as the vehicles now have their own identities.

The plates also seem to have publicity and marketing benefits. The company’s vehicles are more visible on the roads, and the plates help them to get noticed, while adding to the company’s professional image.

So, the choice of gift for Darryl’s 40th anniversary with L.T & R Vowles has been an unqualified success. His friends and colleagues hope it will continue to bring him pleasure during his next 40 years with the company!

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