Putney Funeral Arranger Awarded for His Efforts During Pandemic
Jerry Smith of Co-op Funeralcare receives commendation
Jerry Smith, a funeral arranger from Co-op Funeralcare in Putney, has received commendation for making an ‘exceptional contribution to life’ in the area.
He received his award from Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE, HM Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
Jerry , who joined the Co-op team five years ago as a funeral arranger, was overwhelmed to receive the letter earlier this summer, recognising the tireless volunteer fundraising work he has carried out for various good causes including MacMillan Cancer Care and the Royal British Legion over the course of the pandemic.
In the letter, Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE, states, “It has come to my attention that you are one of those people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty with your willingness to work significant overtime in the height of the pandemic in addition to finding an ingenious way to run your annual fund-raiser for Macmillan Cancer Care. As Her Majesty The Queen’s personal representative in Greater London, an important part of my role is to recognise and thank those who have made an exceptional contribution to life in our great city.”
Jerry says: “I am very passionate about being able to do something meaningful and help those less fortunate. This is why, at Co-op Putney Funeralcare, we try to do whatever we can to raise as much money as possible for incredible organisations such as Macmillan or the Royal British Legion.”
Aside from his day-to-day duties as a Funeral Arranger, Jerry is known in the local community as someone deeply involved with a range of different charities including his annual Morning Coffee event for MacMillan Cancer Research. Over the years, he has gathered increasing support from local businesses, whose owners have consistently offered their time, services and products to his charitable endeavours.
This year was no different, despite the pandemic putting a stop to the majority of public events. Determined to continue his annual tradition, Jerry took advantage of the outdoor space at the Putney Co-op Funeralcare store and set up a small marquee where he offered donated pastries and home baked cakes as part of his yearly Macmillan’s Biggest Coffee Morning.
Touched by the lengths Jerry was willing to go to for such a great cause, the local pizza restaurant, located just across the street from the branch, provided pizza to all Co-op Funeralcare staff members who had volunteered to participate at the charitable stand outside.
Jerry’s fantastic relationship with the local community does not end there. Throughout his time with the Co-op Funeralcare in Putney, Jerry, alongside his Funeral Director, Sebastian, made it their mission to establish a relationship with the patients at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Jerry has developed an excellent rapport with the pensioners, built on mutual respect and trust.
Both Jerry and Sebastian have gone above and beyond to become as knowledgeable of each veteran’s history, celebrating their achievements and working hard to ensure each funeral matched the great character of their late clients.
He says, “I have been working with the Royal Hospital Chelsea for nearly two years now, trying to give the pensioners the best possible send off and have built up a brilliant relationship with some incredible people along the way. They deserve a huge amount of respect for their service, so I make sure I pay them regular visits.”
Although Jerry has not allowed Covid-19 to prevent him from engaging in his usual community work, the pandemic has caused a two-year hiatus from his much-loved trips down to Brighton Pride, an event which members of Co-op Funeralcare celebrate together each year.
Thinking of it as a great opportunity to give back to the LGBTQ community, on his last trip to Brighton Jerry liaised with the local Co-op Care Centre, ensuring that all staff walked the whole length of the parade behind a rainbow hearse. Not only that, but his initiative prompted Co-op Funeralcare to provide special Pride Co-op t-shirts for everyone, as well as face paints and rainbow-themed sweets, offered by the team at Co-op Food Stores.
Funeralcare wasn’t always on Jerry's radar as a career path. Having dealt with the passing of his mother, father and sister, and feeling stuck in a self-employed job Jerry decided to switch careers. “I thought in depth about what I would really like to do, and realised I wanted to make a difference and help people, so I decided to apply to Co-op Funeralcare” Jerry said. “It was the best decision I have ever made, and I have never looked back. It gives me great satisfaction being able to help people through a distressing time.”
His passion for his role lies in wanting to make a difference for a grieving family by helping them through every aspect of the funeral process. During the pandemic, Jerry worked every weekend for the first two months, liaising with local cemeteries and crematories in an effort to make sure all funeral arrangements were perfect for the loving families and friends who were planning these send offs.
September 24, 2021