By James Somper
A 20-year-old who was inspired to work in the funeral business after the death of his aunt and grandmother says that age is no barrier when it comes to dealing with death.
Timothy Parry launched TJ Parry & Family after four years working in the industry and even met his girlfriend through his job.
Now, the young entrepreneur, from Burton-upon-Trent, says that he wants to grow his business so that he can provide a first-class service to as many bereaved as possible.
A self-confessed “workaholic”, Timothy says that he feels doing his job is an honour and a privilege.
He said: “Every time we do a funeral the family of the loved one always thanks us.
“It’s massively rewarding.
“That’s what I love about the job, being able to help people and give them the dignity, respect and love they deserve.”
The child of a coffee shop manager and MOT inspector, Timothy originally set his sights on a career in the police but began to volunteer at his local crematorium aged fourteen after following the deaths of his great-grandmother and aunt.
He was offered a full-time position by George Simnett and Family Funeral Directors in Chellaston while finishing his GCSEs.
And in September of this year, he launched his own business – despite his age.
Timothy said: “I lost my great grandmother and aunty very closely to one another.
“I couldn’t talk about death before they passed away.
“I could see the distress it caused and being able to help families for that final part of someone’s life made it click into my head that I wanted to be part of it.
“I was 14 when I volunteered at the local crematorium and was involved in every aspect of the cremation process.
“I took too it well and after that week I went back to work in the holidays and gain more experience.
“During my study leave George said come and do a week’s experience to see how you find it. I was offered the job, I was over the moon, I couldn’t believe it.
“The first stage of the job was very minor stuff and then it progressed to conducting funerals.”
“Since I launched, one person asked me if the business was my father’s.
“I think they were quite surprised when I told them I’d set it up myself.”
Timothy said that despite his experience, the job brought with it some fresh challenges.
Now a seasoned veteran, Timothy has personally arranged 1,000 funerals and participated or run at least 2,000.
But initially, his friends were baffled by his choice of career.
He said: “The first time I saw a deceased person was slightly odd. I’d never even seen one before but I wasn’t worried about it.
“I just got on with it and now I’m totally normalised to it.
“My friends were asking me ‘how can you do that’ and were a bit creeped out at first.
“But as time’s gone on they’ve been more and more interested and now find it pretty remarkable.”
Timothy said that his job has given him a unique perspective on life.
Timothy and girlfriend Jemma Jukes, 25, met through work while Jemma was working as a florist.
She now helps her boyfriend by doing flower arrangements for his funerals, running her own business.
He says that they try to keep their jobs out of their relationship when they’re out and about.
Timothy said: “It makes you very grateful for what’s around you and what you’ve got.
“When we’re in work we’re in work mode.
“It’s nice to have that connection that your partner is there.
“If the job thing comes up I mention it. I think people find it interesting that we’re both in the trade.”
Timothy added that he’s got firm advice for anyone considering starting out in the trade.
The ambitious 20-year-old was inspired to start his own business in September of this year and now wants to grow it.
He said: “It’s always difficult dealing with a tragic death.
“It brings different types of grief out but that’s part of the job.
“You have to be as supportive as you can.
“To be good at this job you need to work people out straight away. There are always family rifts but you need to care for and support the family.
“If there are rifts you have to work around them while following the laws at the same time.
“I’d been in the trade for a few years before and wanted to be looking after people the way I wanted to and to look after families’ loved one’s under my own roof.
“My ambition is to grow the business and to look after more people and to buy my own cars so we can increase our offering.
“We offer traditional values with a modern approach. I’m young but I respect tradition and we can offer those but we can also do other things.”