Hope On The Horizon For Bereaved Families

The head of Wathall’s - Derby’s longest-established firm of funeral directors - has thanked bereaved families for their understanding and cooperation during lockdown and indicated a glimmer of hope for the future.

Helen Wathall MBE is the fifth generation of her family to run the company which has branches in Derby city centre, Alvaston, Borrowash, Ashbourne and Burton-on-Trent and is representing funeral directors from across Derbyshire on the Local Resilience Forum which is run by Derbyshire County Council.

She has regularly updated ministers on the changing situation and posted information on the company website to advise families of changing circumstances during lockdown.

Recent updates have focused on the easing restrictions at local crematoria. At Markeaton Crematorium, maximum attendance for services is now ten in the Round Chapel and 30 in the Main Chapel if households can sit together or 20 if full social distancing is required.

Meanwhile maximum capacity has been increased to 24 mourners at Trent Valley Crematorium in Aston-on-Trent although mourner attendance continues to be limited to ten across all Derby City Council cemeteries.

Miss Wathall said today: “Although slightly more mourners are now allowed to attend crematoria services, there are still widespread restrictions in place.

“Although this will, quite rightly, be a gradual process this latest news is a glimmer of hope that sensible easing of lockdown around funerals may now be on the horizon.

“The situation has constantly evolved since the lockdown was imposed and is still regularly changing so our aim has been to keep everyone informed and particularly to ease the burden of our local crematoria who are obviously stretched to capacity.

“We are therefore asking families and everyone involved in arranging a funeral to keep in touch with us directly rather than overloading the already stretched crematoria with requests for information.”

She continued: “This has been incredibly difficult for bereaved families and our own staff alike.  However, I am thankful that the measures we have taken have ensured that none of our staff have so far contracted the virus which has enabled us to support families in the best way we can at a stressful and sad time in their lives.

“The vast majority of bereaved families have been incredibly stoic and understand that the restrictions in place are vital for their own protection and to safeguard the health and well-being of our staff and everyone involved in arranging funerals.

“Many have embraced the opportunity to use our website www.wathalls.co.uk to post tributes and photographs of their loved ones and have enabled us to collect charity donations online in lieu of flowers which I know has been welcomed by the wider families and friends who are unable to attend burials or cremations.

“We also continue to maintain contact with families so that we can help them arrange memorials and services of thanksgiving in the future and offer whatever help we can through our free Dandelions Bereavement Support service.”

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