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Thornalley Funeral Services in King's Lynn and Swaffham 'go above call of duty' during coronavirus outbreak

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An independent family-run funeral services firm with bases in Lynn and Swaffham has revealed how it is going above its call of duty to help families who have lost loved ones during the coronavirus outbreak.

The pandemic has placed considerable pressure on the company and its employees who are in the frontline when it comes to arranging funerals for those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 with stringent precautions having to be adhered to.

But faced with such challenges, every effort is being made to maintain the high level of services it offers the bereaved and their families, said Andrew Thornalley, director of Thornalley Funeral Services.

Andrew Thornalley and his father Ray Thornalley (33931300)
Andrew Thornalley and his father Ray Thornalley (33931300)

He said: "We are living in uncertain and challenging times. We know the importance and central role that funerals hold in the grieving process for families, however during these difficult times the transmission of coronavirus cannot be overlooked. We try to go beyond our call of duty to ensure things are as seamless as possible but we feel so much for the bereaved families.

"Here at Thornalley Funeral Services in Lynn and Chapmans and Thornalley Funeral Services in Swaffham, we have a very dedicated team to make sure everything runs smoothly throughout the funeral arrangements and on the day of the funeral."

He also said that respect shown by people standing on the side of the road with their heads bowed to watch as the hearse goes by meant a lot to mourners. "It’s a lovely touch and is touching to see. The family really do appreciate this and it means so much to them."

Thornalley Funeral Services branch (33931304)
Thornalley Funeral Services branch (33931304)

The Government, as well as other regulatory bodies such as the Society of Independent Funeral Directors and the National Association of Funeral Directors, have set out guidelines and regulations which must be implemented in order to help omit the transmission of COVID-19, not only amongst the bereaved families but staff and other professionals involved in all aspects of funerals.

"Whilst we have had a lot of deceased who have sadly died from COVID-19, along with many who are unconfirmed but suspected COVID-19, we do our utmost to maintain a high level of service," he said.

"It has been paramount that we take all the necessary precautions to ensure our staff keep safe and healthy and we are proud of the way that our outstanding team have remained truly dedicated in helping bereaved families whilst exposing themselves to COVID-19."

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to all staff and protocols are adhered to when caring for the deceased and coming into contact with their families.

Information on the virus itself and how long it can last on the deceased is not fully known but there is evidence to suggest it can live up to several days. This means that it is vital that all regulations are strictly followed to minimise the risk of spreading the virus further.

To ensure transmission of the virus is minimal there are several restrictions which apply to both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 funerals.

All funeral arrangements are carried out via telephone or email and registering a death is still done by appointment, but via the phone. Ministers and civil celebrants, too, speak to families by telephone or email.

Churches are closed for all funeral services and burials are all graveside services only.

Funerals are attended by immediate family only, with up to about ten mourners who have to abide by the social distancing rules.

Viewing is allowed for the deceased who haven’t got COVID-19, but due to social distancing and incubation periods of the virus, viewing of the deceased with COVID-19 is not possible

No limousines are allowed due to cross contamination and social distancing regulations. Flowers are allowed but there has been a reduction in the amount due to less availability.

Mintlyn Crematorium does not allow the coffins to be carried into the chapel and have provided a wheel bier which all funeral directors have to use instead.

The crematoriums offer a free live webcast service where funerals can be watched live via the internet. This service has to be requested by the family who then receive the log in details via email to pass onto those wishing to watch.

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