Wigan funeral director gave up travel industry career to pursue his dream job

A Wigan funeral director gave up a career in the travel industry in order to pursue his dream job.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 10:13 am
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 10:22 am
Stuart Pilkington gave up his career in the travel industry for his current role

Stuart Pilkington, who works at Co-op Funeralcare, was previously a holiday representative, coordinating activities for younger travellers, before landing his very different, current role.

He has undertaken several career changes on his route to becoming a funeral director, having also worked in catering and social care.

Mr Pilkington said: “I see the funeral service as an experience and a service, much in the same way I used to think about arranging holidays for my clients abroad.

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“At the end of the day, it’s about offering a totally personal service for the families and loved ones involved.

“Our quality of service has helped us establish long-lasting relationships with the local community and has led us to create some very poignant and special memories that will last a lifetime.”

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He says his great-grandmother Clara, who was a local midwife, instilled in him a sense of duty.

After seeing the preparations that went into her funeral, Mr Pilkington knew a career in that industry would be his calling.

As a holiday rep he travelled across the world, and held the role of financial controller for Thomas Cook in Cyprus, overseeing Goa, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

After getting married and starting a family, he decided it was time to return to the UK and find a new career, following years of managing the highs and lows of the travel industry, which included hanging out with celebrities to dealing with major incidents.

In order to follow his dreams, he enrolled on a self-financed funeral directing qualification course before finally being given the opportunity to join Co-op Funeralcare to serve bereaved communities.

Despite his seniority in his previous jobs, Mr Pilkington started out in funeral care from the back of the house, preparing coffins and collecting deceased individuals with a private ambulance.

He quickly moved up the ranks to become the Funeral Director of the Wigan branch, the same home he had applied to six years prior when he was trying to gain experience in the industry.

One of his passion projects is working with deaths of babies and children, with the entire funeral home being lit up in pink or blue, to participate in the Wave of Light for Baby Loss Awareness Week.

The home also houses a children’s chapel of rest, which holds particular importance to Mr Pilkington, after going through the tragedy of losing a child himself.

This prompted him to launch a baby chapel within the home where grieving parents can remember their little ones in a private, comforting and dignified setting.

Mr Pilkington said: “Supporting bereaved parents is something that I am deeply passionate about, which is why I am so proud of the work we have done and the families we have supported through the dedicated chapel of rest.

“Baby Loss Awareness Week serves as an important time for parents and families to commemorate their baby’s lives.

“We hope that this sparks more conversation around the topic of child loss to ultimately ensure that the right bereavement care exists for those that need it.”

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