If I earned £1 for every time I heard that, I’d be a millionaire. Well, maybe not quite a millionaire, but enough to buy myself lunch at the Miller & Carter.
My name is Henry and I am the Funeral Director at H G King Funeral Services. I opened the business on the 4th September 2017 in Lancing West Sussex, at the youthful age of 23. Yes, that is correct, that is not a typo. I was 23 years old when I decided to open a 24hr service as a Funeral Director.
Let me rewind to where it all started.
I will be honest and admit that I never intended to work in the funeral industry. I dropped out of college at the age of 16 and was slowly becoming a couch potato, racking up game time on the latest PlayStation release. As a regular member of the Air Training Corps (ATC), my main interest was joining the Royal Air Force, but I was too young at the time. My father supplied coffin bearers for different funeral directors across Sussex and hauled me out the house to assist a funeral by carrying the coffin at Woodvale Crematorium Brighton. I was 16 when I donned my first striped masonic-style trousers.
I continued to travel around Sussex as my father’s front-seat passenger. His choice of transport: a red 1992 Nissan Micra. I enjoyed this period of my life. I felt liberated from the routine of school and spending time with my Dad was great. He was a man with a hard-working mentality, having been self-employed his whole life. I had great respect for him. Previously a car mechanic, he used to work all day and throughout the night to provide for his family. As a child, I remember waving him out the window as he left for the evening to repair alternators and starter motors in his workshop, returning home later in the morning to take me to school.
I turned 17 in April 2011 and immediately learnt to drive. I passed my test in the December and Dad bought my first car, knowing the sooner I had my own transport, the sooner he could send me off on my own. We bought a Rover 25 from my cousin, Ben, in royal blue and MG ZR wheels. I thought it was a gesture from Dad, but he was not stupid. I spent the first two months paying him back for the car and numerous repairs from neglecting it, which Dad often repaired himself.
One weekday in early March 2012, Dad instructed me to carry the coffin at a few funerals at Woodvale Crematorium Brighton. I would often be at the Crematorium for a few hours and read books in my car to pass the time. That same evening at home, Dad came into my bedroom and informed me that one of the funerals I assisted that day had the company’s co-ordinator in attendance. He told my Dad he was impressed with the way I spent my spare time reading and looked smart and presentable. That man’s name was Ian Mason. He explained his company were employing a full-time operative and if I was interested in having an interview. I was excited at the prospect of full-time work, with a salary and working within a team. I eagerly agreed to an interview and I was offered the job, starting my full-time career at a funeral directors on the 8th May 2012 – I had turned 18 just 18 days earlier.
I honestly believe in fate. What if Dad had asked someone else to assist on that funeral? What if Ian Mason was never in attendance?
I have great respect for Ian. He took a risk by employing a young 17-year-old. I certainly would not be in the position I am today and for that, I am forever grateful.