A Week in the Life of Mark Reed, Wathall’s Funeral Team Manager
I start every day with a meeting with all the Funeral Team to go through the day and confirm everyone’s work schedules. We have a varied job from conducting funeral services to collecting the bodies of people who have passed away and we need to be flexible to whatever calls we get.
We have a busy week of funerals ahead so I do a full checklist for the funerals planned for the next couple of days. Nothing is left to chance and we have a thorough triple check system to ensure everything is ready and all the finer details are correct. I am fortunate that we have probably more full time members of staff than most other funeral directors but I also have a team of casual or part time funeral bearers that we call upon when needed so I put in some calls.
Part of our role is the removal of bodies – whether from a person’s home, their care home or, as in this case, from Ward 2 at the London Road Community Hospital. I send one of the team up to the hospital to collect the person’s body and, with all the paperwork in place, I call the family to let them know that we are looking after their loved one until they decide who they want to arrange the funeral.
We also work with the bereavement team at hospital to arrange the funeral for babies who unfortunately die in hospital. Every baby has a funeral whether they are full term or not which we all agree is one of the hardest jobs that we do – regardless of whether it is a cremation or burial.
I then spend the afternoon in the mortuary where I am needed to help prepare a person’s body who will then be taken to the Chapel of Rest at our Allestree branch tomorrow so that the family can say a private farewell to their loved one.
It is 15 years since I left my job in construction and started working as a driver and pall bearer here at Wathall’s. Having done all the jobs in the yard (as we call it) – washing the cars, preparing the coffins and working in the mortuary – I progressed onto being a funeral conductor . As manager, it is important that I can step into any role at busy times and I love the variety in the job.
I am donning my uniform today and conducting a funeral which is an aspect of the job that I particularly enjoy. Conducting a funeral is the last thing you can do for a person and I like to do this job at least once a week to see for myself that the ‘Wathall’s Way’ is being adhered to at all times and that standards are maintained.
It’s a particularly heavy paperwork day today as next week is looking as busy as this one. My job is essentially to make sure that every funeral runs smoothly and to never take anything for granted.
I work with the funeral arrangers to ensure that everything is ready for a funeral from ordering the coffins to contacting the families the day before a funeral to introduce ourselves and finalising the arrangements with the crematorium or church.
This is definitely not a nine to five profession so I also confirm the on-call rotas as we need to be available 24/7 to collect a person’s body and bring them here to the mortuary in Derby.
After such a busy week, it is important to ensure that everything is ship shape in the yard and that all the cars are in full working order and ready for the following week.
We also take delivery of coffins which are made bespoke to each person’s measurements so it is important that these are properly logged.
I am not on call this weekend so am looking forward to a weekend of football – watching my beloved Derby County on Saturday and then running my son’s junior football team Ashby Ivanhoe on Sunday. Wathall’s sponsor the kit for the lads and it is always a proud moment when they head onto the team in their smart shirts sporting our name.