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Pandemic work hailed as team up for national award

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Dudley Council’s bereavement services team has been shortlisted for a national award for its “exemplary” work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 22-strong group, which manages two crematoria and eight cemeteries across the borough, is up for Team of the Year at the LGC Awards 2021.

The team worked long hours – including Bank Holidays - and put on extra services at Gornal Wood Crematorium while Stourbridge Crematorium was shut for four months last year at the height of the pandemic.

They worked closely with local funeral directors to ensure services could still go ahead. The team also implemented measures such as webcasting funerals to ensure relatives did not completely miss out, maintaining social distancing and coping with government legislation restricting numbers that could attend.

Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said:

I am delighted that the work of our bereavement services team during an extremely challenging period has been recognised, and comes after they were recently also awarded the freedom of the borough.
Their work during the pandemic would have been difficult enough, but it was compounded by the loss of one of the two crematoria for a long period.
Despite this, the attitude and commitment of each and every member of the team has been exemplary.
Many staff worked regular 12-hour days to ensure cremations could be completed on the same day as the service, something we take for granted during normal times but which became very challenging as the pandemic hit.
Short notice burial requests – to meet cultural requirements in accordance with faith – were met throughout, on occasions resulting in burials taking place during the evening.
On one occasion the bereaved family had failed to confirm a booking but arrived at the cemetery expecting the burial to take place. In a bid to help the family, gravediggers who had left work for the day returned from home to ensure the burial took place for the family in the evening.
This is just one example from many that demonstrate the team’s dedication, and I hope that is recognised by them winning this national award.

The winners will be announced on November 4 at a glitzy ceremony at the Marriott in Park Lane, London.

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