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Inverness funeral director Louis Jones believed to be one of the youngest ever in the UK to earn the industry’s diploma


By Andrew Henderson

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An Inverness funeral director is believed to be one of the youngest in the UK to achieve an industry qualification.

Louis Jones, who works at D Chisholm and Sons on Huntly Street, passed his National Association of Funeral Directors exams at just 20 years old to gain his diploma.

Even Louis Jones' tutor was not aware of anyone who had earned their diploma as young as the 20-year-old. Picture: James Mackenzie
Even Louis Jones' tutor was not aware of anyone who had earned their diploma as young as the 20-year-old. Picture: James Mackenzie

Studying online while working, Mr Jones’ last year has seen him write 48 essays, sit an hour-long oral exam and a three-hour written exam.

While not necessary to work as a funeral director, Mr Jones has acquired specialist knowledge through the course – such as learning about burials at sea, exhumation of human remains and bequeathal of bodies to medical science.

It is rare that someone so young would have already passed the qualifications, but while there was plenty of excitement around him, Mr Jones’ initial reaction to finding out he had passed was more relief.

“It is a very intensive course, and I’m thankful I did it at the age I am because I am still fresh from school where I sat exams and wrote essays,” he explained.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like if you had been away for 20 years and then had to do such examinations.

“My day-to-day goings on won’t change very much, but having done the course I have certainly gained a lot of knowledge and it will help me develop as a funeral director, and it will also help me better myself so that I can better serve bereaved families.

“As far as I know, and having spoken to my tutor, we believe I am the youngest person to have passed the exam in the UK. We don’t know for sure, but we believe I am.

“It goes over my head a wee bit. I don’t really think about possibly being the youngest person to have passed the exam, but the training that George (Chisholm) and David (Anderson) have given me has really helped me to pass.

“I suppose it is a momentous feat. Everybody else was excited, and I was more relieved because it takes up a lot of your time, and it’s quite stressful given that I was working full time and studying as well.

“I’m quite glad that I can just focus more on the funeral directing and on my day-to-day duties now rather than thinking about exams and essays. It’s nice just to think about my normal day as a funeral director – I say that, but I suppose being a funeral director isn’t very normal.”

Mr Jones began working with Chisholms when he was 16, after initially spending time with the funeral directors as work experience while at school. That one day led to two weeks over his Christmas break, and then coming in regularly to work on Friday afternoons and Saturdays while still studying.

In his early days, Mr Jones would hand out service sheets, guide the bereaved family to shake hands or to their seats, and help carry coffins as and when required.

Now, he can conduct funerals, prepare the deceased and even build coffins.

Before starting with Chisholms, Mr Jones had never experienced a death in the family or seen a deceased, but the more he began to work with Mr Chisholm and Mr Anderson, the more he understood how vital the role of a funeral director is.

“It’s a very important job – people need to be cared for at this point of their lives,” he said.

“On my first day doing work experience, I was shown a deceased in a coffin for viewing – so this deceased was already prepared and looking very well for the family to come in.

Louis Jones has been working with D Chisholm and Sons since he was 16 years old. Picture: James Mackenzie
Louis Jones has been working with D Chisholm and Sons since he was 16 years old. Picture: James Mackenzie

“Later on that day, I went up to the Raigmore mortuary with David, and we conveyed the deceased from Raigmore to the funeral home. That was the first time I had seen a deceased just after they had passed away, which is very different from when a loved one views the deceased.

“I saw the two aspects – someone prepared, and then someone who had just passed away – and there is a great difference between the two.

“On that day I knew that the mortuary team put in a great deal of preparation, time and effort, and they obviously care about what they are doing.

“At the end of the day, this could be someone’s mum or dad, or granny or grandad, brother or sister. This is someone’s loved one, and you want to do your best so that when they see that person for the last time it’s a memory they are going to cherish rather than a horrible experience.

“It’s a very rewarding job. It’s a very difficult time for people, and I enjoy creating relationships with people who are trusting me to look after their loved one. It’s a very big responsibility.”

Although he admits they may have thought it was a strange career to go into, Mr Jones says his friends and family have all been supportive of the path he has taken.

The 20-year-old certainly has no regrets, and he would encourage other young people to consider following in his footsteps.

“I suppose for someone coming in from school it could be a very difficult job,” he reasoned.

“I came in not knowing what to expect, and I didn’t really think about it. That’s the thing about this job, if you think too much about what you are actually doing it can play on your mind a lot and affect you mentally.

“I was obviously still at school when I first started, and my friends all thought it was a bit strange.

Mr Jones would encourage other young people to consider a career in funeral directing. Picture: James Mackenzie
Mr Jones would encourage other young people to consider a career in funeral directing. Picture: James Mackenzie

“Some were hoping to be doctors, others wanted to be engineers, they wanted to do lots of different things. I wanted to be a funeral director, and I suppose this was a bit strange to all of them, but I knew it was what I wanted to do my friends accepted that.

“I’m very glad I did do it. It’s a job a lot of younger people may not consider because I suppose death is a bit of a taboo subject, but I would encourage other younger people to go into it.

“It’s a career you could do for the rest of your life. One thing is for sure, you’re always going to need a funeral director.”


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