Meet the team... Andrew Vickers
We meet Andrew Vickers, an integral part of our team here at Tester & Jones and a familiar face to anyone who’s attended Beacon Academy in Crowborough.
When did you start working with Tester & Jones and what's your background in terms of a career? I have been working with Tester & Jones for nearly six years now and have found it extremely rewarding. I joined shortly after retiring from a career in teaching; it was a real boost to become part of a team once more and feel that I am providing a service that is appreciated.
I began my career at Beacon Community College in 1978, where I initially taught geography. Since then, although I have held senior positions in schools in Tunbridge Wells, Eastbourne and Hailsham, I spent most of my time at Beacon between 1978 and 1994 as teacher and head of Sackville House and then a further ten years from 2000 as a Deputy Principal.
What does your role at Tester & Jones involve?
I see my main role as one of support. I am happy to be able to do whatever is needed. Most of my time is spent helping out at funeral services; making sure things are in place, driving the vehicles and bearing the deceased. When Stephen is away or busy I also conduct funerals, taking the lead in making sure things run smoothly for the families. Behind the scenes I can be 'on call' to go out to family homes or care homes when someone dies and bring them into our care.
Had you worked with a funeral director before and did you have any misconceptions before you started?
My involvement with Tester & Jones was rather coincidental; I was at a loose end after retiring and met an ex-neighbour and now fellow bearer at a funeral being conducted by Tester & Jones. He encouraged me to give it a go but I didn't really think any more about it until I met Stephen in the town. He and I had started at Beacon together on the same day - but in slightly different capacities - and he invited me in to see what went on and the rest, as they say…
What do you enjoy most about your role/what are the challenges?
The most rewarding aspect of the job (and also the most challenging) is providing a service for the family at a very difficult time for them. Being there to take away the uncertainty of what is happening and knowing what the right protocol is. It’s also about allowing them to do what they feel is right and confirming with them that what they want to do is OK.
What do you think sets Tester & Jones apart in terms of the service they provide? Does being independent make a difference?
Putting the family first is what Tester & Jones, as an independent funeral director, does well. I am now passionate about independent funeral directors because of what they bring to a community. In knowing the community the way they do, I don't think you can beat the care Tester & Jones offers.
It is a shame to me that independents are under threat because so many corporate companies are flooding the market by selling their funeral plans on the TV and elsewhere to unsuspecting families trying to do their best for the future. To my mind, the best thing anyone could do is just pop into their local independent funeral director and have a chat!
Outside of work, what are your hobbies and interests?
Outside work I am a regular church goer, DIY enthusiast and golfer. I will watch any sport that is going on TV, eat all my wife's cooking (which she does all the time), and torment my granddaughter. My daughter is a trauma nurse in A&E (Brighton) and so babysitting our 2year old is taking over rather more of what free time I had!