The origins of Green Willow Funerals lie in its close relationship with the Cardiff YMCA and the visionary leadership of John Bettles who, at the time the company was set up, was Chief Executive to both the Cardiff YMCA and Cardiff YMCA Housing Association.
As is the case for many worthy charities today, funding for the Cardiff YMCA was becoming more restricted and competitive. The ideal would be to establish an independent enterprise that would generate income to sustain both itself and gift-aid profits to support the charitable work of the Cardiff YMCA. Much easier said than done!
Undergoing the experience of making funeral arrangements following the death of his own mother in 1991, and learning about the industry from his father, John Bettles became determined to set up a caring professional firm of Funeral Directors. Supported by some, doubted and daunted by others, John’s vision became reality when, in April 1997, Green Willow Funerals Ltd was incorporated.
The company directed its first funeral on the 23rd May 1997. The funeral was held at St Augustine’s Church, Rumney, followed by burial at the Duke of Westminster’s Estate, Ecclestone, Cheshire the next day. In its earliest days, the company actually operated from the YMCA premises in Cardiff, members of the YMCA staff occasionally being allocated unusual ‘additional duties’ such as driving the hearse. The company’s first funeral home opened in Pillmawr Road, Newport in July 1997. Two years later, a second funeral home was opened in St Isan Road, Heath Cardiff in 1999 and a third followed in 2004, in Station Road, Dinas Powys.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Since those early days the company has proved to be a great success, serving thousands of individuals and families by helping them arrange unique and worthy funerals for their loved-ones, and generating substantial financial support for the ongoing work of the Cardiff YMCA via the Cardiff YMCA (1910) Trust.