Funeral rising stars in Derbyshire show how young people are making a big impression

Two rising stars at Ward and Brewin Funeral Service have spoken about what it is like for young people to forge a career in the funeral industry.

Funeral Administrators Sophie Dyke, 22, and Hayley Johnson, 24, work as part of an all-female team and are great examples of a rising trend in youngsters turning to the funeral business in search of a job that allows them to make a real difference.

Sophie, from Swadlincote, revealed that working in a funeral home was something that she has always wanted to do.

She said: “It was an industry that has always interested me from when I was young and I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue.

“I have been with Central England Co-op for just over a year now and I knew after only a few days that this was the job for me.

“This is because I want to be able to help people pay their final respects to their loved ones and to ensure that it is always perfect.

“It is a hard job at times, and not something that everyone can do, but for those who want to help people in their time in need there is nothing better in my view.
“When I first started out for a lot of people, family, friends, families, age was an issue but when I showed how much I cared and showcased my professionalism then that soon went away.

“I am so proud of what I do and I could not think of doing anything else. I am motivated by being able to do the best for our families.

“I hope to eventually to use all of my experiences to work my way up to become a Funeral Director.”

Hayley, who lives in Tutbury, decided to join the funeral industry after seeing everything that went into the planning of a funeral following the passing of close family members.

She said: “I sadly lost five close members of my family in just four years and this was what pushed me towards wanting to have a career helping others who have lost a loved one.

“My mother works for JH Grice, in Hatton, and after watching her help organise some of the funerals, I wanted to know more and help others who have to go through the same thing.

“I already worked at the Central England Co-op food store in Barton under Needwood and when a job came up I jumped at the chance.

“I have worked at Ward and Brewin for three years now and the whole reason I do my job is to give something back to people in need after losing a loved one.

“If I can help just a little bit – whether it be offering a shoulder to cry on or being someone to talk to – then I have made a difference and that makes me happy.

“I love my job and love helping people to honour their loved ones – I can’t think of anything else that I would rather do.”

Both Sophie and Hayley are supported in their roles by Funeral Director Samantha Platt.

She said: “We have a great time at Ward and Brewin and Sophie and Hayley form a key part of that.

“The care and empathy they have when with our families is a credit to both and they stop at nothing to ensure that families are cared for during their time of need.

“They are a great example to young people looking to break into the funeral industry, showcasing the character needed to do the job and showing how far you can get with the passion and devotion that they have.”

Central England Co-operative Funeralcare Ward and Brewin, which has sites in both Swadlincote and Woodville, offers a 24-hour service, seven days a week.  The team can be contacted on 01283 215969 or visit for more details.


Notes to editors


Picture caption: Ward and Brewin (1) The team from Ward and Brewin. Hayley Johnson is second from the left

Picture caption: Ward and Brewin (2) Sophie Dyke



About Central England Co-operative


Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. 


It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, and property.


The company’s funeral business consists of over 120 funeral homes across 16 counties, 10 florists, masonry production and administration, Bretby Crematorium and Terry Smiths coffin factory.


Central England Co-operative has more than 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including; West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 


The Society has an ambitious food store and funeral home development programme for 2018.


Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.


Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to members activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing or visiting


For more information visit, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, @mycooplife and on Facebook:


Rob Smyth at Central England Co-operative on 01543 414140


Email –