In our latest A Day In The Life Of feature we meet Natasha Bradshaw, superintendent at Mortlake Crematorium in Richmond and organiser of the Full Circle Festival on Saturday 29th June which aims to educate, inspire and celebrate 80 years of Mortlake Crematorium supporting the local community.
Before we begin, can you share a little bit about what you do and how you got started?
I have been working at Mortlake Crematorium since 2010 and the first cemetery I worked in was Hanwell Cemetery in Ealing in 1995. I had intended to be a teacher and went to Digby Stuart Teacher Training College but left after the first year. I've still got great friends from that year though. My Grandad was a Funeral Director in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, so when I saw the job advertised for the Cemetery I was really interested.
Rise and shine… what’s you morning routine?
My morning routine has changed over the last year. I run three times a week, so I go for a run as soon as I wake up so my brain hasn't woken up and realised what I am doing! If it's a day I am not running, my husband walks Noodles our dog and brings me a cup of tea. I catch up on social media and WhatsApp friends that wake early too.
Looking around, can you describe your workplace to us?
I am so lucky to work at such a beautiful crematorium. It's by the River Thames, just by Chiswick Bridge where the Oxford and Cambridge Boat race finishes. The Gardening team have worked so hard over recent years. At the moment the grounds are full of colour, the wildflower meadow is full of bees, huge swirls of lavender and the Hydrangeas are about to bloom. We have white fantail doves which live in a dovecote just outside our office window. The building itself is a Grade II listed building due to its Art Deco design, which has changed little since it opened in 1939. The team here is great and the longest serving member has been working at Mortlake Crematorium for over 33 years!
Who are your customers and how do you serve them?
Our customers are the local community. This year marks our 80th anniversary and we are holding our Full Circle Festival on Saturday 29th June to celebrate. We will be opening our doors to host a day of activities, education and inspiration. There will be food, drink, music, entertainment, a pop-up Death Cafe, talks in the chapel, behind the scenes tours of the crematorium and the opportunity to meet local charities and community groups, as well as the chance to become a supporter or volunteer for many good causes. Come along... it's free, family friendly and everyone is welcome!
What do you like best about what you do?
Meeting people. Listening and hearing about the person they loved. Each story is unique. I also love seeing people when they have hope again.
Tea break…. what’s your guilty pleasure?
Ha ha, we try and be healthy and have introduced a fruit bowl, but I can never resist a Greggs sausage roll if they appear!
Who or what inspires you?
People you meet who are kind and helpful in whatever they do.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in your line of work?
Come and spend some time with us.
Name any books, films, blogs, podcasts or other resources that you would recommend?
We need to talk about death (Joan Bakewell on Radio 4), The Art of Dying Well, (St Mary’s University Podcast), Picking Up The Pieces: London’s Air Ambulance (Podcast), Life Death Whatever (Twitter), our own website www.mortlakecrematorium.org, and The Good Grief Trust website also has many videos about grief.
Heading home… after work, what do you do to relax and unwind?
I do like a good tidy up of a cupboard or drawer! Currently watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race and recently binge-watched Gilmore Girls. I go to sleep listening to The Archers on Radio 4.
What’s on your bucket list?
I’d love to ride a horse on a beach.
Have you thought about what you’d like for your own funeral?
I’d leave it to my family to decide as they will make great choices. My husband will be in charge of the music. I would like to be cremated at Mortlake Crematorium, unless my son would prefer for me to be buried. Whatever they need and want to do, it’s more about them than me. I’d like a London Bus Hearse and London Taxis for transporting guests, I love London.
What would you like your epitaph to be?
At the end of the day… what’s the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
Throw all the spare pillows off my side of the bed and charge my phone.