Britain’s Youngest Female Funeral Director is Deadly Serious about Her Career ChoiceLouise Ryan never wanted to be stuck in any ordinary job – so she figured it was only natural to follow in her father’s footsteps and work with the dead. Miss Ryan, who is already leading funeral processions, has undertaken 12 months of training, and at 20 years old is believed to be Britain’s youngest female funeral director. The teenager admits leading funeral processions and escorting coffins to churchyards is a far cry from her previous two jobs as a hairdresser and call centre worker.
But she said she would not have it any other way and loves what she does.
Louise said: ‘I know it’s a strange job for a girl of my age but I really enjoy it.
‘People think it’s a bit weird of macabre but dealing with dead bodies just doesn’t bother me. The most important thing is to care for families at a difficult time.’
After training with her father Michael, Miss Ryan has now been given the go-ahead to direct funerals herself.
Her interest in becoming an undertaker began at age 13 when she began helping out at her father’s firm, Michael G Ryan and Son Funeral Directors in Newport, South Wales.
She said: ‘That was when I first saw a dead body and I’ve just grown up with it.’
Miss Ryan said her change of profession was often an amusing talking point.
‘If I’m out with my friends and someone asks me what I do it can go both ways,’ she said.
It can be a real conversation stopper but most people are fascinated and I get asked all sorts of questions.
‘Most people want to know if it’s scary – but what is there to be scared of?’
And while she may not get nervous around dead bodies, she admits she still finds it difficult walking slowly in front of hearses at funerals.
She said: ‘I am aware that everyone’s eyes are on me and I worry about falling over and losing the dignity of the moment.
‘But the response I’ve had from families has been really encouraging.
‘They are initially surprised when they realise I’m the funeral director – but after the funeral they have said some lovely things.
‘I think the female touch works – it’s all about being understanding and gentle with people. It’s a really worthwhile thing to do.’
Her boyfriend Craig Whynell, 24, is ‘more than happy’ with her role as funeral director.
She said: ‘I told him all about it when we met. Like everyone else, he was curious – but now he is just used to it.’
Mr Ryan said his older son Thomas, 23, had decided to follow a different career path but that his daughter was keen to follow in his footsteps.
He said: ‘Louise is doing a very good job and people have welcomed her taking care of their loved one’s funerals. I’m very proud of her.’
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