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A female funeral director in Darlington on the reality of her role

A Darlington woman who swapped childcare for funeralcare has explained the calling she felt to look after bereaved families in their hours of need.

For Julie Guest, age 53, from Darlington, dedicating her care and attention to little ones in her late teens and early 20s led to a head-strong dedication to do whatever it took to become a Funeral Director.

18 years later, Julie is now celebrating her long service with Co-op funeralcare in the North East.

Julie’s professional career began at the young age of 17, when she finished college in Darlington and moved to Huddersfield as a live-in nanny.

Having specialised in childcare during her schooling, Julie was extremely proud to care for pre-school children while their parents were out at work throughout the day.

After a decade of working in different schools, however, nurseries, and with different families in Yorkshire and her hometown of Darlington, Julie felt like it was time to move on to her true calling, becoming a funeral director.

Despite having been asked by several people in her life about her unique career choice, especially for the time with Co-op being one of the only funeral care providers who offered funeral director roles to women in the late 1990s, Julie never knew how to properly articulate the profound desire she felt to become a funeral director and personally look after bereaved families.

“I suppose, through my own experience of bereavement, I learned what funeral directors do and how important their role is, and immediately knew that was exactly what I wanted to be,” Julie said.

Nailing down her dream job, however, did not come easily. Julie spent over seven years writing letters to Co-op Funeralcare in Darlington, hoping they’d invite her for an interview.

When that call finally did come, Julie’s lack of experience in the funeralcare sector hindered her first attempt at realising her dream.

It was only a year later, in 2004, that she was finally successful in her application, becoming a trainee Funeral Director.

“I knew I wanted to be a funeral director, and so I never settled for less, applying for other jobs or looking into another sector. I couldn’t verbalise it at the time, I just simply knew there was nowhere else I’d rather be than working in the funeral sector, caring for bereaved families and making sure their loved ones have the best possible send-off.” Julie said.

In her 18 years of service, her dedication and attention to detail has proved to everyone that funeralcare suits Julie like a glove.

Despite dealing with heart-breaking stories of loss on a day-to-day basis, Julie remains ever-enamoured with her job.

Reflecting on the wisdom acquired during her 18 years of service as a Funeral Director, Julie concluded by saying that “if you’re passionate about caring for others and supporting families through what can be one of the most devastating times, a job in the funeral sector could be for you. We only have one chance to care for those who have died and support their bereaved family, so you need to put a lot of heart and hard work into it.

“I’ve seen a lot during my 18 years with the Co-op, but the one thing that’s always stuck with me is being able to help the families in my community and have that satisfaction that I’ve given them all I’ve got to make saying goodbye a little bit easier.”


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