Let me introduce you to Leah Hutchinson who is the proprietor of Country Funerals based in Westwell, Kent. Leah recently came to a series of classes at the village hall in Westwell to learn about funeral flowers after hearing about the classes from a village friend.
Leah keeps herself very busy. She has two children, Frances aged 24 who lives and works in events in London and Kurt aged 20 who is still with her at home. Her two Bassett hounds Norman and Pearl keep her on her toes and she spends most weekends supporting her husband Graham in his music. Any spare time is spent at auctions and second hand shops. Her favourite flower is the sweet pea.
I was intrigued to meet Leah as, other than in my role as a florist delivering funeral tributes, I’d never met a Funeral Director. When I asked Leah about her career choice she told me that ever since the age of 15 she wanted to be a Funeral Director, but had found that women were not accepted in the trade. After spending many years chasing her dream Leah opened Country Funerals in October 2010
To date Leah has undertaken 150 funerals. In her own words Leah describes her job as “providing a very dignified and professional service with a ladies touch, making families feel that much more comfortable and able to get through the hardest thing a family has to do.”
As a Funeral Director, Leah works with lots of funeral tributes and I wondered what made her decide to take a floristry class. Leah told me that she wanted to understand why some of the tributes that were delivered to her never made it to the hearse without losing flowers. So, she wanted to be able to do a quick fix with confidence in the event of a mishap occurring between the initial delivery of the tributes and the end of proceedings.
Leah was one of six students at my “pop up” Westwell Flower School. Some of the ladies had come to other classes and I wondered what she had made of it all. “Well”, said Leah “it was a great class. It lived up to my expectations of being fun and I learnt a lot at the same time.”
As Leah enjoyed class so much, I wondered whether she had any ambitions to set up a floristry business alongside the funeral side of things? “No”, says Leah “I have a very full week as it is, and feel very honoured to help my families, so I have no desire to add an in-house floristry service to Country Funerals.”
So far Leah hasn’t had to use any of her new-found skills for emergency first aid for the floral tributes she handles, but she says she has helped families by giving advice to them about ideas for funeral flowers. She is sure that over the years to come the tips she has picked up at flower school will come in very handy!
Looking to the future Leah’s plans are to continue to be there for families when they need to say goodbye to a loved one.
If you’ve been inspired by Leah’s story you might like to know that I have two workshops planned for Tuesday 1 July at Creek Creative in Faversham. In the morning I’ll show you how to create your own hand tied bouquet and in the afternoon, I’ll show you how to make your own floral crown.
Leah Hutchinson can be contacted at Country Funerals on 01233 712222
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