Harrogate woman who was UK's youngest female funeral director gives an insight into her profession

A Harrogate woman who became a funeral director at just 19 has explained what drew her to the profession.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 10:06 am
Nicola Major

In 1947, Nicola Major’s grandfather established an independent funeral home in the town - and 50 years later, in 1998, she followed in her family’s footsteps, making history as one of the youngest women to be appointed as a funeral director in the UK.

Reflecting on her career path, Nicola said she remembers seeing an advertisement in the local newspaper for an Assistant Funeral Arranger at the Co-op Funeral Home in Harrogate.

Empowered by the recent decision to introduce female vicars in a previously male-dominated industry, and inspired by her family’s tradition working in funeralcare, Nicola decided to apply.

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She was taken on as a Trainee Funeral Director - a much more senior position than the one she applied for - and has been there ever since.

She said: “Here in Harrogate, I have been very lucky with the staff I’ve worked with, we really are all one family. Having climbed through the ranks and being in a management position now myself, I want to do the same and help the younger generation who have chosen to join the sector, just like my colleagues supported me when I was starting out.

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One of Nicola’s proudest moments in the industry includes being shortlisted for the Butterfly Award back in 2017, when she was nominated by a bereaved father who she had supported through the loss of his daughter.

Despite not winning, Nicola said she keeps the memory of attending the award ceremony close to her heart, as a constant reminder of how impactful the work of her and her colleagues is to members of the community.