Meet the client – Allen Plumbley
One of Greystone’s longest standing clients Allen Plumbley and his consultant director Neil Peden have seen many changes over the years together.
“My wife Ann and I were introduced to Neil in 1986 by our local Midland Bank Manager” Allen tells us. “We wanted to review our pension arrangements and look into future financial planning for our eventual retirement.”
“At the time Allen had decided to give up dairy farming and had just sold his 70 cattle, along with the milk quota” reflects Neil.
“That’s right, we’d decided to concentrate on the landscape maintenance and agricultural contracts side of the business – no more early mornings and mouths to feed” says Allen grinning.
The couple have two children, David, now 47 and married to wife Jade, and Helen who married a local farmer and is part of the local farming community. When Allen retired in 2007, David and Jade took over the business, however, retirement was to be short lived as the day after he retired Allen hit upon an idea to open an environmentally friendly ‘green burial’ cemetery on his land.
By 2008, Allen had created Swanlow Park Cemetery in Winsford with a traditional graveyard along with a woodland area and was offering people an alternative to the traditional burial or cremation.
“I wasn’t new to the sector”, explains Allen. “My grandfather was a letter cutter and I left school at 15 to train as a stonemason. This is when I dug my first grave – it was a re-opening so pretty scary as it collapsed.
I wanted to create somewhere people could be free to make choices and almost anything goes at Swanlow, but we do set down standards, mainly around what is permitted within a green environment. For burials, earth friendly materials are used to make the coffin and there are cardboard and wool caskets for ashes, all of which make the minimum impact on wildlife habitats. We also encourage people to grow wild plants and flowers, some bring vegetables instead of flowers…the animals love it. But advanced technology has reached the cemetery all the pre-purchased plots are micro-chipped with digital bar codes.
We are very open to requests; one family asked if their son could help dig his Grandad’s grave, it’s all part of the unique service we wanted to offer. People come from miles around; we have over 700 loved ones now in our care.
In 2013 we were very proud to have won the Cheshire Farms Competition for diversification and in the same year were the North of England Regional Runner Up in The People’s Awards for the Best Natural Burial Ground in the UK .”
“It also keeps him from under my feet”, smiles Ann. “Allen finds it very hard to sit still!”
As their business relationship developed over the years Allen and Ann have introduced Neil to a great number of their personal and business associates in Cheshire and Staffordshire.
“It’s very flattering when clients refer you” says Neil. “It’s the best recommendation you can have. Over the years my wife and I have been out for Sunday lunch with Allen’s family; our children loved going back to the farm afterwards for rides on the tractor. We were even invited to Allen and Ann’s Golden wedding anniversary.”
Allen ended by saying: “Neil’s helped us throughout our lives full stop. He’s not a financial adviser but a part of you and your family.” We certainly wouldn’t be where we are today if it hadn’t been for Neil’s advice early on in the business.”