22-year-old funeral arranger starts career with final farewell for her great-grandmother

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A 22-year-old from East London has started her career as a Funeral Arranger with a very personal farewell – conducting her great-grandmother’s funeral after she passed away aged 103.

A 22-year-old from East London has started her career as a Funeral Arranger with a very personal farewell – conducting her great-grandmother’s funeral after she passed away aged 103.

Skye O’Neill, who lives in Wilford, Nottingham began working as a Funeral Arranger at award winning fifth generation family business A.W. Lymn The Family Funeral Service at the beginning of 2023.

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Originally from East London, Skye moved to Nottingham to live with her nan and great-grandmother to fulfil her dream of a career in the funeral industry - a vocation Skye first knew she wanted to pursue after the passing of her father when she was just 14-years-old.

Skye O'Neill Conducts FuneralSkye O'Neill Conducts Funeral
Skye O'Neill Conducts Funeral

“It was A.W. Lymn who handled the funeral of my dad, and I can remember being blown away by the entire process, everything they did was so beautiful. I immediately knew I wanted to help people in the same way,” she explained.

The 116-year-old funeral directors, which is headquartered in Nottingham and operates branches across the East Midlands, have played an important role in Skye’s life throughout the years, conducting various family members’ funerals.

When Skye got a job at A.W. Lymn’s Wollaton funeral home, she explained it was her great-grandmother, Irene, who took a particular interest in what they do.

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“She was so fascinated when I got the job, she would keep anything that mentioned my name within the business as keepsakes. She even kept the A.W. Lymn brochures and would circle all the different funeral options that she wanted to have, but most importantly, she made it clear that she wanted me to conduct her funeral when she passed.”

Skye O'Neill with her great-grandmother IreneSkye O'Neill with her great-grandmother Irene
Skye O'Neill with her great-grandmother Irene

Alongside her role as a Funeral Arranger, Skye is currently working to get her Diploma in Funeral Directing and a Diploma in Bereavement Counselling, hoping to qualify later this year.

When her great-grandmother, Irene Read, passed away in April aged 103, Skye had yet to qualify as a Funeral Director, so turned to Nigel Lymn Rose, Company Chairman and fourth generation at A.W. Lymn with a special request.

Skye explained: “I knew I wasn’t able to conduct the funeral all on my own as I was yet to qualify, but I wanted to fulfil my great-grandmother’s wishes as I knew it meant so much to her, so I posed the question to Nigel, asking if he could help me.”

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Under the support and direction of Nigel, who has been caring for the bereaved in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire for more than 50 years, Skye was able to conduct her first ever funeral and give her great-grandmother the service she wished for.

Nigel said: “I knew Irene personally having supported the family with funeral services over the years. She was a wonderful lady.

“When Skye asked if it was possible to conduct the funeral, I had no hesitation. It was an honour to support her through her first service, especially one which was so meaningful to her.

“Skye is a true asset to A.W. Lymn, you can see the passion she has for the industry and the commitment to giving the best service to the families we serve and it is a pleasure to support her as she pursues her career with us.”

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Skye hopes to break traditional stereotypes and lead the way for other young women who are interested in starting a career in the funeral industry.

She said: “Working in the funeral industry is all about wanting to help others through what can be the most challenging and upsetting time of their life. You don’t have to be a certain age or look a certain way to do this. But you do have to have compassion and genuine human interest at heart, which is what I experienced back when I was 15 and plan to demonstrate in all that I do throughout my journey in the funeral industry.”

With 28 funeral homes across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and one recently opened in Leicestershire, A.W. Lymn prides itself on offering a high-quality service at an affordable price to the families it has served since 1907.

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