“Retrain” he said, “Find new jobs”, he said

Well in the words of UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, that’s exactly what I did. Running my own business for 28 years does not mean I don’t listen and take on board sound advice. Of course I do! So, to Mr Sunak, I took your advice.

Firstly to all of my clients, my business contacts and my friends and family, I am certainly not giving up The Sowerby Group business where, with my amazing, talented teams, we have created something special in the recruitment, digital marketing and creative communications sector. This is a business that has been built on referral, recommendation, trust, longevity and in many cases, where clients have become friends. And I am so proud of everything we have achieved together.

But there have been times when I’ve thought about the skills I possess and how they can be channelled into something different and more ‘spiritual’. A place where I can still add true value to those who will benefit most.

Many will already know for a number of reasons.  I am a biographer, a storyteller, a careers counsellor. I have a strong voice on issues where I have a true passion. I am an avid supporter of our hospice’s bereavement café and I am Community Champion for our local council. I am someone who listens. I love to hear other people’s stories. I have a very enquiring mind. And I ask lots of questions – often crossing the boundaries of the ‘whys and wherefores” !

Putting all those skills into a big melting pot, I started my journey to train as a Funeral Celebrant. It wasn’t just a lightbulb moment either. You see, I have been to many funerals and have listened intently to the Celebrant – some very good ones too! And in the back of my mind I would think “I would like to do that”. I even spoke at my father’s funeral many years ago – and I have never, ever got over the emotional rollercoaster of losing my father, my friend and someone who was a strong confidante and who was taken far too soon. My grief is still raw 20 years on.

So I commenced the journey of an Independent Funeral Celebrant. I researched lots of celebrant courses and before I pressed the button to sign up to one in particular, quite coincidentally I was contacted by the owner of a new Independent Family Funeral Directors in the very place where I live in Essex. This had to be more than coincidence that the owner should ask me to write an article about their new business for our village magazine. And of course I accepted, whilst also asking if they were looking for a Funeral Celebrant. Very kindly, they put me in touch with one of their own Celebrants who has been in the ‘business’ for over 20 years. He is now my Mentor, my Trainer and someone who I have shadowed at funerals, meeting bereaved families and where I have role-played many times to ensure that I am the best that I can be. As part of the Funeral Directors’ team I am ready to go it alone, to work with bereaved families and friends to deliver the best and most memorable service to celebrate the life of their loved ones.

Do you ever believe that things happen for a reason? I know I do and this was more than evident on that afternoon when I took the call from Steve and Harry Drew, owners of Drew and Son Funeral Directors. I firmly believe that I am being ‘called’ to follow a particular path. A path where I can continue to help people, to listen, to write tributes and to deliver a Celebration of Life. It’s a path that I have chosen to follow, and it’s also a path that, I believe, has been chosen for me.

Sue Sowerby, Independent Funeral Celebrant – ‘To Honour a Life’