Every day is the graveyard shift for one 22-year-old man.

But despite being surrounded by death grave digger Ashley Davey of Bocking Church Street enjoys the job.

He said: “A lot of people say you have to be a particular type of person to do the job, but I enjoy it. I get on well with it.

“I like the peacefulness of the cemeteries, working in the cemeteries and I do enjoy digging. It’s nice when you have dug a grave and you are down there 6ft and you have achieved that and it’s done.

“And I enjoy just helping some of the elderly people in the cemetery as well. Helping them with their watering cans or just having a chat with them.”

Mr Davey, who is married to Leila, 22, fell into the grave digging trade after helping out his father-in-law Paul Dervish of Blunts Hall Road, Witham.

He took over the reigns of the business, which is contracted by Braintree Council, just under three years ago.

It sees him digging graves at the cemeteries in Braintree, Bocking, Halstead and Witham, though he favours Bocking and Halstead.

“They are each peaceful cemeteries to work in and Halstead I like because often the ground is quite nice to dig. It’s just a different soil consistency.”

In his line of work soil is something Mr Davey, a keen gardener, has intimate knowledge of.

He described Halstead’s as “dark and peaty,” Bocking’s as “flinty and sandy” and Braintree and Witham’s as having the most clay.

“It’s the difference between a grave taking three or four hours or two days to dig,” he said.

The tools of the trade are his shovel and fork rather than a digger. Mr Davey prefers the “dignity” of digging by hand.

“It’s a lot nicer if someone is quietly digging a grave away by hand, than if a giant digger is tearing the place up.”

When it comes to skills he said it was about “just getting a technique digging.”

He receives information on funerals and coffin sizes by email and, depending on his work load and the type of soil, digs the day before the funeral or earlier.

A double grave is dug 6ft deep and a single 4½ to 5ft. His duties also involve raking the soil over the coffin and planting the flowers.

Mr Davey has at times had to dig graves for those he has known or babies, but despite this his emotions never get in the way of his professionalism.

“It’s [babies] often more upsetting than an older person that’s died but I view it as it needs to be done, the job, so I just get on and do it.”

His friends find his job “unique,” but Mr Davey is just a normal young man whose interests include socialising.

His job can sometimes see him digging graves late into the night, but he does not get spooked.

“A lot of people ask if I’m worried to dig in cemeteries at night which I often do if it’s a hot summer’s day or if I have got a lot to do. I may stay late at night and start really early, like 4am, in the summer.”

That truly is the graveyard shift.