A $550,000 renovation has opened up a multi-purpose facility for community use at Castle Hill.
Allan Drew Funerals building on Old Northern Rd has been gutted and transformed complete with a new internal floor layout, new bespoke furniture and lighting.
The funeral home’s chapel was the original St Paul’s Anglican Church and has been a local landmark since its completion in 1861.
Location manager and long-time Dural resident Nancy Mackintosh said having the opportunity to completely redesign the facility had been an exciting challenge.
“Only occasionally do you get the chance to start with virtually a clean slate and create a facility the community can use that is also a benchmark for the funeral industry,” she said.
“It also means we can continue to serve the Hills district for years to come.
“The renovation was a vision our founder Allan Drew OAM (who sadly passed away in 2019) had for many years so it’s wonderful to see it come to fruition.”
The new facility which has been designed with catering facilities made it ideal for hosting other functions such as private celebrations or business conferences and community meetings.
“I believe we have moved to the point where people are comfortable with the thought of holding meetings, conferences and even birthday and engagement parties in a function room attached to a funeral home,” Ms Mackintosh said.
Allan Drew Funerals established its funeral home next to the former St Paul’s Anglican Church in 1986. Ms Mackintosh said the chapel was also still used for weddings. “We have a lot of local people choosing to use the chapel as they have fond memories of attending Sunday School and family celebrations like weddings and christenings there,” Ms Mackintosh said.
The new funeral home includes a 120-seat chapel, three arranging rooms for staff to meet with families, a welcoming reception area, additional waiting lounge area, and updated function room for up to 200 people with modernised catering kitchen.
Ms Mackintosh has worked at the Castle Hill funeral home for 12 years, making the move to the funeral industry 22 years ago after running her own dressmaking business for over a decade. Ms Mackintosh said all aspects of her job gave her satisfaction.
“Leading a wonderful team of 14 employees and helping people at one of their most vulnerable times in their lives is truly an honour,” she said. While she may have given up sewing professionally, Ms Mackintosh is still a keen sewer and quilter. “I find the stress of everyday emotions of dealing with grief and sadness can sometimes be overwhelming so every night I sit and do an hour of quilting/embroidery just to recentre my mind. It is very calming and rewarding.”
She is also lover of vintage cars and has been restoring her own Hot Rod – a 1936 Chev Sloper – with her fiancé for the past 18 months
“The creativity involved is a great outlet for re-energising the soul.”