This October marks 20 years since East Midlands-based funeral directors, A.W. Lymn The Family Funeral Service, completed its largest acquisition, taking over the Ilkeston Co-op Funeral Division and acquiring six new funeral homes. Matt Winman, who currently works as Operations Manager at A.W. Lymn after joining during the acquisition, explains how the company broadened his horizons, introduced a family feel at work and created a supportive environment.
When Matt joined the funeral industry in 1993 after leaving school at the age of 15, it came as a natural transition for the youngster. His father, David, was the manager of the Ilkeston Co-op Funeral division. He started out washing the cars, making the tea, and tidying up.
He then progressed to driving on funerals, funeral arranging at the Stapleford branch and finally funeral directing at the Ilkeston branch. Matt remembers the acquisition itself to be a smooth process that happened within days, but admits it was “unnerving.”
A.W. Lymn acquired the funeral homes in Ilkeston, Cotmanhay, Spondon and Long Eaton in Derbyshire, and in Stapleford and Wollaton in Nottinghamshire. The takeover remains the largest in the company’s 116 year history.
While company restructures can be an unsettling time for employees, Company Chairman Nigel Lymn Rose was sure that future employment of the staff was not in doubt.
Matt, now 46, from Ilkeston said: “They didn’t make anyone redundant; Nigel was adamant that he wanted to keep everybody,” he says. Just under half the staff who were transferred to A.W. Lymn in 2003 are still working with the company today.
Following the acquisition, Matt said he immediately noticed the level of professionalism with which A.W. Lymn operates. The business also allowed him to experience how different cultures conduct funerals.
He has organised helping with West Indian, Chinese, Sikh, Hindu and Muslim funerals, which he admits has been a steep learning curve, but one which he has both enjoyed and embraced.
Matt continued as a funeral director for another three years with A.W. Lymn before he became Operations Manager, which he has been for the last 17 years.
On why he has remained with the business over the years, he said: “A.W. Lymn makes you feel wanted, like you belong in the business, which is a nice feeling. It’s quite a large firm, but it still holds onto that family ethos. I think everyone’s loyal to each other, there can be difficult days, but we keep each other going.”
Matt believes that over the last 20 years, people’s attitudes to funerals have shifted dramatically, with members of the public becoming more open to discussing death. The number of options that are available to the bereaved has also massively increased.
He hopes that in the future A.W. Lymn can continue pushing the boundaries in the industry and continue to give people the confidence to choose them to conduct their funerals.
Looking back over the past 20 years, Nigel Lymn Rose said: “It is hard to believe that 20 years ago the wet signatures went on the document to complete the takeover of the funeral offices of Ilkeston Consumer Co-op by our family business. The acquisition was a huge milestone for us as a business and marked a major turning point of expansion for us.
“It is extremely gratifying to me that we still have staff who we took on during the acquisition that are still very much an important part of our family business some 20 years later.
“I would like to say thank you to those staff for all they continue to do and the crucial role they play in helping our family business meet the needs of those we serve in our local communities.”
A.W. Lymn has cared for the bereaved in the East Midlands for over 116 years. The fifth-generation family business operates 27 funeral homes throughout Nottinghamshire and South Derbyshire with quality of service at the heart of its ethos.