Female funeral director in Morpeth speaks about her experiences ahead of International Women's Day

A funeral director for William Purves in Morpeth and other parts of the region has shared her personal experience of working in a traditionally male-dominated field.
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Ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, Kim Ramshaw has spoken of the main challenge as a woman in the industry, but also the “changing picture” at the firm.

She spent more than five years in North Tyneside Council’s Bereavement Services team as an adviser to support the crematoria and cemeteries with their administration and paperwork.

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This involved working with all the funeral directors in the region and seeking a new challenge, she applied for an opening at the Gary Staker Funeral Directors and was successful.

Funeral director Kim Ramshaw.Funeral director Kim Ramshaw.
Funeral director Kim Ramshaw.

Kim said: “Both Janet Smith (former funeral director and current branch administrator) and Gary Staker have been my mentors. They taught me to ensure that we take time to make proper connections with our families.

“The main challenge I’ve found is the assumption that men are in charge.

“Often working in pairs when we bring someone into our care, families tend to direct their queries to the man first – even though it’s more than likely we are the lead. Or if it’s two women, men would offer to assist us with lifting or other heavy work.

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“But in almost nine years, things are changing. In William Purves, we’ve doubled the number of women in funeral director roles – with the most recent recruit joining our Edinburgh operations last month. It’s definitely a changing picture.

“Although this is my experience and not scientific fact, I feel women are sometimes more comfortable talking to other women, particularly when emotions run high.

“It’s often not the big things but the tiny, personal gestures that we can provide that make a monumental difference on the day.

“If we know that the family can leave with happy memories, that’s a good day for us. It’s not an exaggeration to say we find highlights in every day of our job.”

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When asked about advice for young women aspiring to join the funeral services sector, she added: “Go into it with a ‘I can do this job just as well as anyone’ attitude.

“Life experience is also hugely beneficial as you’re dealing with people and lives which are all shades and colours so you can empathise more effectively.”

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