New Start: ‘My biggest joy … is knowing I’ve supported a family’

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Former adult social care worker Lucy Derrick became a memorial consultant a year ago and has already clocked up an award. She tells Sharon Barnard about her new role

In her previous job working with adults with autism, Lucy learnt a lot about compassion and patience.

But the long hours, understaffing and underfunding meant she was burnt out and needed a fresh start.

Adult social care’s loss became West Wiltshire Crematorium’s good fortune when she joined the team as memorial consultant in 2021.

“In my social care job I had to put myself in the individual’s shoes so that I could imagine how they’d be feeling or dealing with a situation, and that’s also something I do in my memorial role,” she explains.

“I always try and imagine how the families feel in the current moment, and then try to make the process as smooth as possible and personal to them and the loved ones they’ve lost,” says Lucy, who won the Most Promising Newcomer to the Trade award at the 2022 AGFD Good Funeral Awards.

“My role involves supporting and guiding families in choosing the right memorial. Once [it] has arrived, I help them with burying or scattering the ashes so their loved one has a final resting place and they have a permanent place to visit.”

Lucy says her greatest challenge is ensuring everything is “100% perfect”.

“It’s more than a stone, tree or plaque – it’s a final resting place for their loved ones and once the ashes have been interred or scattered and the stone is in place there’s no going back.

“It’s also an experience that will stay in their minds so it’s best to make it a memorable one.

“My biggest joy within the role is knowing that I’ve supported a family from the point they walk in the door all the way to interring the ashes. Seeing the family’s faces when everything is in place and being a part of the reason they have the perfect final resting place is extremely rewarding.”

Was receiving an award for a role she loves the icing on the cake?

“It has made me feel very much appreciated for the job that I do and by the amazing colleagues I work with,” she says.

“It’s nice to know my work doesn’t go unnoticed.