00:00:03 My name’s Cathy S. I’m a Funeral Home Manager from Keithleigh in West Yorkshire. I’m also a Funeral Director and Embalmer for Co-operative Funeralcare. My job as a Funeral Home Manager, that entails looking after four small funeral homes and the staff that work within it and also arranging and conducting funerals and embalming as well.
00:00:27 I enjoyed the more creative aspects at school. I enjoyed art and I enjoyed PE, you know, more practical things that I could get involved with rather than sort of maths and physics side of it, I wasn’t particularly good at that at all. I achieved three O levels and I got a bunch of GCSEs as well and I failed a couple of exams, particularly maths, that was one I failed.
00:00:51 So I left school at 15 ‘cos I’m a summer – my birthday is towards the end of the summer and I went to work for our local electricity board. They gave me the opportunity to go to college on a day release where I got a BTech in business studies and finance after a couple of years and then I continued to work for them for 15 years.
00:01:13 One thing that happened in my life that had an influence on me obviously was my son being born when I was 19 ‘cos that kind of dictated my 20s if you like. It dictated that I needed to stop within a job that I was in which, you know, luckily I worked for an employer that was study-aware. I needed to make sure that I was able to support myself and my son ‘cos obviously we lived by ourselves in the community, and I guess at the time I didn’t see it as being difficult but now reflecting back where I am sort of 19 years, 18 years down the road, then I can see that it was important that I did that but never regretted doing that actually, but yeah that was a massive change in my life obviously.
00:02:00 I got into this industry by seeing an advert in a local newspaper. I’d been made redundant a few months before from the job I’d had from leaving school, and it was for a receptionist and administrator at a local funeral home near to where I lived. Now I’d decided when I was made redundant that I wanted to have something that inspired me and not particularly something that I did just because I needed money to support my family. So that’s the decision I made.
00:02:28 So I went along for the interview and liked the people that I spoke to very much and was offered the job as an administrator. It did mean quite a cut in pay to what I’d actually – because I’d been at my last company for quite a long time. But I decided it was worth taking the risk ‘cos it was something that I was interested and intrigued in. Quite quickly I thought – as I saw the funeral directors and the other roles within the business, I thought gosh I could do this, you know, equally as better if not better than the people that are doing it in my opinion.
00:02:59 It wasn’t particularly a female environment, it was very male orientated so I really thought there was something that I could bring as a woman. But opportunities in this industry can be difficult to come across, but I was fortunate enough that somebody got promoted within another business and opportunity to move funeral homes and become a trainee funeral director came up, which I went for along with lots of other people from the business and got it. So that was good. So that was my first sort of step into funeral directing.
00:03:31 There’s one story that springs to mind and that was a story of an 11 month old boy that passed away from a sudden cot death and I’d wondered how I would feel about dealing with him and his family because it is unusual for children to die, it really is. And I was able to talk them through that process and give them choices and actually make that process easier for them to afterwards, after the funeral service, to get a lovely cuddle from them and a card afterwards to say that we’d really made a difference, just means everything. It means everything.