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Meet the team… Dawn Shearn

Here we introduce you to team member Dawn, who has been with us since April 2013.

What does your role involve?

I am a funeral arranger, so I take first calls when someone’s loved one passes away, either face to face in the office or over the phone, and clarify the deceased’s name, date of birth, date of death, where they died and whether the doctor has given the OK for release of the person into our care. I will then arrange for someone to pick the deceased up and then begin to help the family with the funeral arrangements, including all the legal paperwork. 

The arrangements include securing the date of either a cremation service or a burial service, the venue for the funeral, the minister or celebrant, the organist (if required), coffin type, newspaper notices (if required), whether they require a limousine, ordering flowers (if help is requested), organising the order of service to be prepared and printed and what they would like done with the ashes once collected. 

If the family agree, I input the details of the funeral and the name of the chosen charity (if desired) onto a tribute page on our website, through a company called Much Loved, which enables people to also donate online to the charity in memory of the deceased. All the arrangements need to be written up, put in the diary, entered onto our white board, written onto the arrangement form and once the minister/celebrant has visited the family, I then will organise for the music to be prepared on the sound system at the crematorium or on CD at a church, or with the organist. 

Throughout this, communication is key, making sure that everyone in the office is informed so we all know what is going on at each stage while the deceased is in our care. I take care of any administration that is needed for the funerals that I am working on.

I will also answer any phone calls and redirect them to the relevant parties, whether it be in connection with a funeral, an ashes interment or a memorial stone and prepare funeral packs ready for the next funeral.

Had you worked at a funeral director before and did you have any misconceptions before you started? No, I had never worked at a funeral director before and everything was new, because I had never even had a family member die. I think a misconception that most people have is that you must phone a funeral director immediately someone passes and yet, you really can wait until the morning.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I definitely love the arranging of the funeral with the families. Often, there is just answering phones and paperwork, day to day, which is great, but being with the families in their time of need and being able to help them through the fog of loss is a privilege. 

What do you think sets Tester & Jones apart in terms of the service they provide? I think it’s the care that both Glenys and Stephen offer to the families. They both know a lot of people, so often it is very personal for them and that makes a difference, but even when the family is unknown to them, they treat every single funeral with deference and respect and will do everything in their power to meet the family’s needs for the funeral of their choice. This ethos flows through the firm and we all strive to offer the best, most personal service that we can.   Another unique service is the Bereavement Group. In fact, it has grown so much that there are now two groups. They provide support, a listening ear, a social network and in many ways a new family for the bereaved.

Outside of work, what are your hobbies and interests? I love playing all sorts of music, mainly for my own amusement on the piano and guitar, but I also teach piano and have guitar lessons, so it is never boring in my household. I have four children and we adore going to the cinema, whenever we can, to watch the latest blockbusters. 

Life is for living.  Until we don’t… And that is where Tester & Jones comes in.

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