Who says that a following a new career direction is just for those starting out? The talented florist team at Neville Funerals have nearly all taken rather different routes to their roles, challenging the standard view of an apprentice, and proving a point that it really is not too late to follow your dream job. This unique and talented group of florists now design very personal and often complex floral tributes for clients from all over the region.
The team of five now has an amazing 80 years of experience between them and although an astounding number, that really doesn’t tell the whole story.
Two of the five retrained to become these specialist florists after pursuing very different careers initially, determined to follow a dream and change the course of their working lives. Now, at Neville Funerals they have succeeded in finding their wanted profession and can now develop their career with a supportive programme of mentoring and learning.
Sue Evans, Floristry Manager at Neville Funerals, has been with the firm for 27 years: “Creative talent, combined with life experience, is a successful mix for us. It’s a privilege to be able to design and deliver very personal, bespoke tributes for our clients – to listen closely to what they want and need and make just what they had in their mind’s eye. To do that, we need to be able to put ourselves in their shoes and walk that path with them. A team with all levels of experience is invaluable and of course it helps that we can all help each other with creative ideas.”
“The firm may be long established, but we have a very forward-thinking attitude to personal and career development. Our employees are local and part of the communities we serve, so we feel that it’s investing back into our neighbourhoods.”
Jo Johnson joined the firm in March 2020, just as the first lockdown was announced: “I originally worked in advertising in London for ITV but felt that I needed to change my work life balance when I wanted to settle down and have children. My job was just not flexible enough to work around that, so, we moved, and I put myself through college in Milton Keynes for a floristry qualification, effectively retraining at 30, and was then able to work as florist around my children’s needs. Now they are older I feel that it’s my time and when the opportunity came up to apply for a full-time role at Neville Funerals I jumped at the chance and haven’t looked back. No two days are the same and we get to work on some amazing and unique tributes and with some lovely families.”
Clara Osbourne has also now taken up the Floristry Apprentice role after spending five years at the business as a Floristry Assistant. Clara gained a degree in fashion design, then went on to be a manager at Boots, before joining Neville Funerals. “I wanted to return to a more creative role, and this offered me just that. Sue persuaded me to move on to the apprenticeship programme and in 18 months’ time I’ll achieve a City and Guilds Level 2 qualification in Floristry. We have a tutor from Keits, our training provider, visit us on site and overall it’s a very flexible learning environment. I know that some florists are only interested in wedding flowers, bouquets, and buttonholes, but for me, what we do here is so much more personal. Just the other day we were designing a floral tribute in the shape of an apron for a loved one who had been a great baker. That’s a special thing to do for that family.”
Sue continues “I feel very lucky to have this incredibly talented and committed team around me. We inspire each other every day and are equally motivated to do the very best for the families we serve. We have a team with years of life experience that they bring to the job daily, which allows us to relate to the families that we meet and deliver for them exactly the tribute that they feel their loved one deserves.”
Neville Funerals Director, Charmian Alexander says:
“We are in a unique position to offer our clients an in-house floristry team, led by Sue, who deliver fantastic funeral floral tributes, all day, every day. Offering apprenticeships demonstrates our long-term commitment to not only the individual, but to the team and our business ethos of life-long learning.”
The team is completed by experienced florist Jennie Attewell, who has been with Neville Funerals for 18 years, and delivery driver, Trisha Brown, who is on the road by 7.30a.m. every morning to carefully transport all the tributes to each of the branches.
Neville Funerals floristry team is based at its Luton head office and for more information visit www.nevillefuneralservice.com. Apprenticeships for other roles across the Neville Group of Companies are available. For more information, please visit www.nevilleconstruction.co.uk/apprentices and www.nevillejoinery.co.uk/apprenticeship-programme.