Meet Natalie, manager of Poppy's new branch in Sheen

Natalie Charles, Poppy's Client Sales Manager in Sheen

Three minute read

Natalie Charles has worked with Poppy’s as a celebrant and funeral director since 2015, and is now be managing our new shop on Upper Richmond Road West. We asked her to share what brought her here, and what she’s looking forward to about Poppy’s Sheen.

I was brought up a Catholic but didn’t remain one as an adult. Later, when I had kids, I started looking for a moral framework. I found humanism and, after a ten-year career in housing, I became a humanist celebrant in 2015.

People often asked me, ‘Wouldn’t you rather do weddings?’ But for me, it was always funerals. Death can bring out the meaning in life. Meeting people as a celebrant, I found we would talk about what really mattered to them as well as to the person who’s died. My aim was always, as far as possible, to create a funeral that had a positive impact on them.

I’ve always been very matter of fact and relaxed in talking about death at home. My children are aware that this is quite unusual. We can talk about death and dying without the fear that talking about it will make it happen.

We’ve talked about what I do and don’t want to happen in old age and when I die. I’ve written it all down too. My children have opinions about my choices for funeral music. They’ve even joked that they could choose music for my funeral that I really didn’t like, and I couldn’t stop them!

I worked with Poppy’s when I was a celebrant — although never as much as I wanted to, because everyone wants to work with Poppy’s! I enjoyed feeling valued and part of the team. Lots of other funeral directors make you feel undervalued as a celebrant. You’re out on your own because they don’t understand the significance of your role. It’s not like that with Poppy’s!

I enjoyed celebrant work but I was curious about what funeral directors did. When a maternity cover role at Poppy’s came up, my partner said, ‘You’ve got to apply!’. I’m grateful that taking on that job meant that I could keep working and learning new things during the pandemic.

While I was working at Poppy’s, my dad died and Poppy’s cared for him. I made all the funeral arrangements, and my lovely colleague Victoria was the funeral director on the day. It took the weight off the rest of my family. I’m proud that we were the first at Poppy’s to use a Life Art enviroboard coffin — an environmentally friendly option that looks like a traditional coffin.

Poppy’s is slightly bigger and busier now, but otherwise the same as I when I first worked here. The work is underpinned by clear values that were there then and are still here now. Poppy’s has always been about recruiting people with the right mindset, rather than the right experience. We will all be working as one team across both sites.

Poppy’s Sheen looks very different to most high street funeral directors. I hope it will feel welcoming for everyone who walks in. It’s a flexible space that doesn’t feel like an office — with a large dining table and chairs, a comfortable place where we can make coffee while we chat to people who come in. There is a private meeting space too for family and friends to talk with us.

Poppy’s Sheen is a warm, bright, and comfortable space. I hope it will become a place where people will want to talk about their funeral wishes as well as arranging funerals. We want to be part of the community, so my job is to get out there and talk to people, from the laundrette to the library, to build relationships and continue those already started. I’m looking forward to welcoming people and giving them what they need.

There used to be a lot of talk at Poppy’s about growth, but now it’s a clear focus. If we grow, then more people can directly access better care. Alongside that, our education work can help make the whole sector better. Everybody wins!

Find out more about Poppy's Sheen and why people choose to work at Poppy's.

To stay in touch with all the latest news and updates from Poppy's by email, sign up here or contact us if you need help planning a funeral.

Discover more articles