Belle’s calling

Dream Job: Belle Davies at work. (s)
Dream Job: Belle Davies at work. (s)

Ambitious Clitheroe teenager Annabel Davies was determined to get into the career she had long set her sights on and her tenacity has finally paid off.

Annabel (known as Belle), of Warwick Drive, is now a fully-fledged funeral director at the Co-operative Funeral Care branch in Keighley, thanks to the national apprenticeships scheme.

The new funeral industry apprenticeships are being offered to all new recruits to ensure that employees have access to high quality, industry focused and nationally recognised qualifications, including functional skills and competency based funeral industry know-how.

Belle began researching a career in the funeral industry aged just 16 whilst studying beauty therapy. She soon realised that it would be harder than she thought to land the job of her dreams.

She said: “There weren’t any college courses where I could learn the right skills and due to the nature of many funeral homes being family run, I found it impossible to get any work experience.”

Belle took a different route and began studying for a BTEC National Diploma in forensic science, a two-year full-time course which she hoped would give her some experience in working with the deceased. Alongside this, she took a night-class in stone carving in the hope that monumental masonry might be another route into the industry and she attained and advanced certificate.

Having passed her BTEC with a triple distinction and after four years relentlessly contacting funeral businesses, Belle finally received her big break when she was selected by the Co-operative Funeral Service to join its new pilot apprenticeship scheme in 2012.

Now one of only nine of the country’s first ever funeral care apprentices, Belle’s determination and hard work has been rewarded by her promotion to full funeral director, making her one of the country’s youngest at just 21.

Belle continued: “The job is everything I hoped it would be and more. I work in a really close team of people and everyday is so busy and different. We are like swans in this business – completely calm on the outside and paddling like mad below water!”

“I’ve had so much help and support and my manager Cathy has been a brilliant mentor. I look after about six funerals per week and every one is a completely different experience. I love working with the families to ensure that the funeral of their loved one is exactly how they want it to be and I feel like I’m making a real difference to people’s lives by making such a difficult time just that little bit easier.”