The Grounds Team is currently made up of 7 permanent members of staff.
Fay Powell – Grounds Manager/Assistant Town Clerk
Paul McErlean – Grounds Supervisor
Tricia Mackrell – Amenities Officer
Zoe Scott – Community and Grounds Officer
Paul Maloney – Cemetery and Conservation Officer
Tom Webb – Cemetery and Conservation Support Officer
Colin Foxall – Parks & Recreation Officer
Seasonal staff are also then employed to help during the busiest months. Fay, Zoe and Tricia are predominantly office-based, although carry out site visits most weeks to meet with contractors or families in the Cemetery. They also enjoy a day of manual work when they get the chance!
With 21 parks and play areas to look after, you will often find the team out and about. These sites span the entire parish of Weston-super-Mare. The team needs to carry out regular inspections, logging any tasks or Health and Safety concerns for action, litter pick all the sites as well as maintain the play equipment and carry out repairs.
Many people are also unaware that the 18 acre Milton Road Cemetery is a working cemetery, with interments taking place weekly. A member of the team must be present at each service, dressed appropriately (a suit and tie are worn) the team is also responsible for preparing the graves for any Ashes interments. This means they must identify the grave, prepare the ground, dress the grave and be ready to backfill afterwards. If the Chapel is required they ensure it has been thoroughly cleaned and polished ready for the family.
The Cemetery itself requires constant attention. In the summer months, you will find the team strimming each section keeping the grass low so family can visit graves. They also need to carry out topple testing on every headstone in the cemetery to ensure it meets all Health and Safety requirements (yes you read that correctly, every single headstone!) There is a strong conservation effort within the Cemetery, with more areas being planted with wildflowers and being managed to allow growth and the attraction of wildlife.
The popular tourist attraction ‘The Waterpark’ on the seafront is managed by the Grounds Team. They have had specific training to run the plant room and ensure the water is safe for the public. Did you know to run the splash pad you need the same training as you would to run a public swimming pool? The team is on hand 7 days’ week when the water is running, ensuring the chlorine dose is correct and everything runs smoothly.
The team also looks after 45 dog bins across Weston. These are emptied twice weekly. They also have a contract with 4 other parishes to empty all their dog bins as well, which is ever-growing.
Flowerbeds in Clarence Park, Grove Park and the Cemetery need to be planted twice a year and fully cared for in-between.
The team is also available to help other Town Council facilities with tasks such as manual handling, assisting with event preparation such as gazebos and removing waste to the tip.
All of this only just touches on what the team looks after in their roles.
SPOT LIGHT ON – Tricia Mackrell—Amenities Officer
I’m Tricia, I am the Amenities Officer and I work as part of the Grounds Team. I run the cemeteries office and my work involves the day to day cemetery administration, including dealing with enquiries from both funeral directors and bereaved families re available options for burial and cremated remains plots in Milton Road Cemetery. I frequently attend the cemetery to meet with families to view available burial and cremated remains plots. I help families navigate the process of transferring the Exclusive Right of Burial on cemetery plots and draft both new and transfer grave deeds ensuring all legal requirements are met.
I liaise with funeral directors and families to arrange funerals and the interment of cremated remains, ensuring all the necessary interment paperwork is completed and that the burials and ashes interments are recorded in the burial registers and onto the computer database.
I liaise with memorial masons with reference to new memorials and additional inscriptions on existing memorials, checking that all the details conform to the Town Council regulations and issuing memorial permits for the work to be undertaken.
We have numerous requests from families looking for the graves of family members in the cemetery. I undertake cemetery searches and with the help of our ever caring and helpful grounds team, between us we are able to identify and mark graves for families who may be visiting long lost relatives for the first time.
One of the most rewarding parts of my role is helping bereaved families at one of the most difficult times of their lives, listening as they tell me about their loved ones, and going that extra mile to offer the sensitivity, and seamless service which they need.
If you are not familiar with the cemetery, take the opportunity to visit, walk through, you may be surprised at how large the cemetery is. Whilst you are there sit awhile on one of the numerous memorial benches and enjoy the peace and beauty of the surroundings. You may even be lucky enough to see some of the numerous wildlife that is to be found in the cemetery.