THE former owner of Oxford’s last independent funeral directors has spoken of the difficult decision she made in selling the business.

S & R Childs, which has four branches in the city, is now part of Dignity, the UK’s biggest provider of funeral services.

Sandra Homewood was one of the founders of the business in 1997 and said the decision to sell was not an easy one.

She said: “Selling a business that you have nurtured and developed over many years is not a task to be undertaken lightly.

“We, our family and loyal staff, have built up a reputation for care and service that is second to none in Oxford and the surrounding area.

“It was therefore only after much consideration and careful thought for our client families, our staff, our suppliers and our own family, that we came to the conclusion it was the right thing to do.”

Ms Homewood said she had agreed to continue with the company, which will keep its name and all four branches, as a consultant.

On her decision to sell, she said: “I was ready to retire, and although we have four children, only one is involved in the business full time.This move gives me the opportunity to continue to be involved in the business, but to begin to scale back on the time that I spend working.

“All of our staff, including my son, Darren, will continue in their current roles, and will serve our client families with the exceptional care and commitment that they have always provided.”

She said Dignity had assured her that it would be “business as usual” for the company, which will continue to trade in the same way.

Ms Homewood said: “Our service will not change, our commitment to our client families will not change, our staff have not changed, and our suppliers have not changed.

“S & R Childs is still managed by the family that started the business.”

“S & R Childs will continue to work with our local florists, caterers, printers and other suppliers, so that we retain our relationships within our local communities, and maintain the highest standards in everything that we do.”

She added: “The only difference is the change in the ownership.”