Northants woman who made dramatic career change now combines love of martial arts with new career as a funeral director

Posted by james brindle | Published: 09/03/2022

A funeral director who now helps families say goodbye to their loved ones has spoken about what inspired her to make a dramatic career change and how she’s helping people in another way through her passion for martial arts.

Emma Webster only began the new chapter in her career as a funeral director working for Central England Co-op covering Desborough and Market Harborough last year, after helping to run a martial arts academy for 15 years on the Norfolk coast.

After moving back to Northamptonshire following divorce, she decided to embark on a whole new career in the funeral industry and hasn’t looked back since supporting families through the toughest times of their lives with real compassion and understanding.

However, she hasn’t left behind her passion for martial arts and is using her skills to volunteer at an anti-bullying scheme for a National Lottery funded project in her now home community of Priors Hall Park, near Corby, sharing her expertise.

The 40-year-old spoke about her rewarding new role as a funeral director and how she’s continuing her passion for martial arts.

She said: “After moving back to my family in Corby from Great Yarmouth following my divorce, I thought about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I wanted to build a new career.

“I worked for 12 months with a different Co-op as a Care Logistics Manager in funeralcare, working back of house so not client facing. I really enjoyed it and I like the community side of the business so when I saw the opportunity to move into working with clients more and helping them directly it really ticked the boxes for me.

“It’s going really well so far. You have to own your own journey and you get out of it what you put in. I believe you have to have that mentality and it works for me.

“Conducting funerals has been great. It’s so rewarding holding families’ hands through the process and being there on the day making it go as smoothly as possible. It’s about them having confidence in you to deliver what they want and to make sure it’s about them and their loved one.

“I’ve also loved the opportunity to continue doing my martial arts and use it in such a rewarding way. Living at Priors Hall Park there is a great community spirit, and we have a community centre there where the opportunity arose to do my martial arts and it’s been great to be involved with.”

For Emma she sees her funeral director role being more than just someone who is there on funeral day for families and is determined to continue that support further in the weeks and months that follow.

She added: “Often in my role though you are there for the family on the day of the funeral and that is that, but I really want to change that approach and have more of a post-funeral relationship with families, maintaining the support we can offer.

“We’re launching Grief Chat sessions locally, more of a Grief Café really, where we’re looking to invite families back into see us and talk about their loved ones and get more support as bereavement doesn’t just end after a funeral and we want to be there for our communities long-term.”

The next Grief Café’s Emma and her team are holding will be at Revive Coffee Shop, 43A Station Rd, Desborough between 10am and 12pm on Wednesday, 23 March and at Enigma Café, 18 Coventry Rd, Market Harborough between 10am and 12pm on Thursday, 24 March.

Central England Co-op Funeralcare has been providing help and guidance for local communities for over 30 years, so it understands that arranging a funeral can feel like a difficult and complicated experience.

The Society prides itself on being able to provide a comprehensive and personalised service.

Colleagues offer everything from a simple, unattended funeral, to a bespoke send off or a more elaborate service with a superior coffin and limousines. They can also talk to families about funeral plans.

They are also able to offer advice on floral tributes, monumental masonry, funeral stationery and probate.

For more information, whether with a funeral plan or arrangement, call 01858 431012 for Market Harborough or 01536 765662 for Desborough.


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its over 8,000 colleagues serve customers across 400 plus trading sites in 20 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Its purpose is to inspire communities to create a sustainable Society for all.

It actively campaigns for the Government to increase sentencing for violent attacks on retail workers and works with FareShare Midlands and hundreds of food banks, generating enough food donations to create over 2.1 million meals for people in need.

The Society embraces inclusivity and equality and is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter, while it is also fully committed to addressing the impact of climate change and is on track to be Carbon Neutral by 2030. 

It invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities through its Community Dividend Fund scheme which has seen over £175,000 shared out between 116 good causes over the past 12 months.

Central England Co-op was named Leading Co-op of the Year by Co-operatives UK in 2021.

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Phone - 01543 421390

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