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Poppy's People: Aaron Thackray, Mortuary & Logistics Manager

Poppy's People: Aaron Thackray, Mortuary & Logistics Manager

Aaron
Aaron Thackray, Mortuary and Logistics Manager
 

Unless you’ve had to organise a funeral yourself, you may not have given very much thought to exactly what a funeral director does. Poppy’s Funerals in Tooting is working hard to demystify what it's like to care for someone who has died and is keen to bust some common myths.

To that end, we spoke to Aaron Thackray, the Mortuary and Logistics Manager, who has one of the most important jobs at Poppy’s. Valued by his colleagues for his calm and unflappable nature, Aaron’s multiple roles include keeping the mortuary shipshape, training new recruits in mortuary processes and procedures, and keeping the vehicles maintained.

But the most meaningful part of Aaron’s job is looking after the people who are entrusted to Poppy’s Funerals’ care when they die.

Much of his day is spent in the mortuary, a converted Victorian burial chapel at Lambeth Cemetery alongside Poppy’s Funerals’ offices. It is a peaceful and airy, light-filled space.
 

The mortuary
  

Aaron has been at Poppy’s for 18 months. Before that, he was a groundsman at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium just around the corner from Poppy’s HQ.
 

What kind of person makes a good mortuary manager and how to you spend your days?

“You need to be able to think on your feet and have good attention to detail.

“In addition to caring for the people in our mortuary, my job involves the logistical side of funeral planning. Once the funeral director has agreed the time, date and place of a funeral with a family, it is my job to organise logistics and manage the detailed planning.

“I make sure that our funerals are staffed correctly, ensuring our team of bearers are in place to carry the coffin, that the right vehicles are available to get staff there and back, and that coffins have been ordered and delivered.

“I am usually the first member of staff to arrive in the morning. I’ll always check the diary and keep an eye on upcoming funerals to make sure staffing plans are in place.

“The most important part of my job is overseeing the care of the people in our mortuary. I am responsible for organising collections of people who have died from their home, or from hospital and hospices.”
 

Lambeth Cemetery
  

If he is collecting a person from their home, Aaron will often be the first member of the Poppy’s team that families meet.

“Looking after families who are bereaved and dealing with loss is not easy. We stand by our clients' sides through one of the toughest times in their lives and that is a big responsibility. We might have family and friends coming to Poppy’s to visit the person who has died, or we might be taking someone who has died back home the day before their funeral. No matter what the situation, we are there to help them during an impossible time.

“It’s particularly uplifting when we bring one of our clients into our care from hospital. Removing clinical paraphernalia, wrapping them in clean calico, helping to restore their own persona (from being a hospital patient), that’s very satisfying.”
 

How does it feel to be working with the dead?

“I felt comfortable and found a sense of acceptance more quickly than I thought I would. It's meaningful work.”


Has it made you think about what you’d like to happen to you after you die?

“Yes. Before I came to work here I hadn’t given it much thought, but now I know I’d like to be wrapped in a wool shroud and buried in a natural burial ground.”
 

What would you say to somebody considering working here?

“It’s a fantastic place to work doing a job that is really satisfying and rewarding.”
 

What does a typical Poppy’s employee look like?

“Smart, practical, professional and down to earth. We all share the same goal of wanting to help and care for people.”

 

The team at Poppy's want everyone to understand the choices available to them when someone they love dies, and to feel that the experience they have with their funeral director is honest, personal and positive.

 

Poppy's
  

Poppy’s is a modern, award-winning funeral directors based in Tooting, and one of our valued Community Partners. Find out more on their website and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Find out more about our Community Partners here.

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