Claire Jenkinson has always dreamt of working at a funeral parlour.
After leaving school it took her ten years to get her dream job, but she never once gave up hope.
She applied for job after job and did work experience at a funeral directors whenever she had a spare minute.
And now, she has been working at Gillotts Funeral Directors in Kimberley for nearly six years and says it’s the best job ever.
“I love every day as much as I did my first,” said Claire.
“It’s my dream job that I want to do for life.”
Claire said she always knew that she wanted to do a job helping people.
But she said the realised exactly what when her grandma died.
“When I left school mI knew I wanted to do a job that involved helping people.
“Then following the death of my grandma and the funeral arrangements that were made for her I decided that was the job I wanted to do. I was 18 at the time and I decided there and then.
“Having a female director helped us so much and put us at ease. And I just thnought there’s no other job that I want to do,” added Claire.
The 31-year-old said her favourite part of the job was speaking to the families.
“I think it’s an absolute privilege and honour to look after a family at such a sensitive time. They trust us with thir precious loved one and there’s no greater honour than that.
“You almost become part of the family for a while,” she said.
On leaving school Claire applied for every funeral job she saw advertised.
She said every time she went for an interview they would tell her they were worried about her age.
“I applied for lots of jobs but they always said I was too young and they were worried about the effect the job would have on me. I was doing work experience to prove to them that I could do it, and it didn’t bother me. I just carried on appligng fpor every funeral job that I saw.
“I thought if it was my age letting me down at least that would get better with time!”
Instead Claire worked full time as a carer and got some work experience at a funeral parlour in Derby every time she had any annual leave.
“I did an awful lot of voluntary work. Every spare second I had. I used to go and help with embalming as well. There was a time when I thought that was the road I wanted to go down but then I realsied I wouldn’t get to spend the time with the family. And that’s what makes the job so satisfying.”
And when claire finally landed her dream job in Kimberley, she was over the moon.
“It felt amazing. I still love every day like as much as I did when I first started,” she said.
Claire’s role as funeral arranger involves meeting with the families to discuss funeral arrangements and organising the flowers, coffin and the headstone.
She also helps prepare and dress the body of the deceased, which she described as a ‘privilege’.
“To me it doesn’t matter if people are alive or dead. they get treated in the same manner and I find it a priviledge.”