Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
10:49 AM 19th February 2020

Top Award For New Funeral Director

Andrew Atkins from Full Circle Funerals in Guiseley has been named the UK’s ‘most promising trainee funeral director’ at the Good Funeral Awards.
Andrew Atkins from Full Circle Funerals in Guiseley has been named the UK’s ‘most promising trainee funeral director’ at the Good Funeral Awards.
A trainee funeral director who recently embarked on a career change after previously working as a Methodist minister, has won a top industry award in his first year in the job.

Andrew Atkins joined Full Circle Funerals in Guiseley in early 2019 has now been named the UK’s ‘most promising trainee funeral director’ at the prestigious Good Funeral Awards.

He previously spent 17 years as a Methodist minister, which involved a wide range of chaplaincy roles, including working with hospices, recovering alcoholics and at Leeds Bradford Airport, as well as leading funerals.

Full Circle Funerals opened in Guiseley in 2016 and supports people to create funerals that truly reflect the person who has died. The company quickly secured a listing as a ‘Recommended Funeral Director’ from the influential Good Funeral Guide and the following year it was named the ‘Best Modern Funeral Director in the UK’ at The Good Funeral Awards. In February 2019 Full Circle Funerals opened a second site in Bramley and earlier this year it also opened in Harrogate town centre.

Andrew has now moved from Guiseley to the company’s Bramley service. He said: “As a minister, I led hundreds of funerals and always felt that offering families pastoral support, during a very difficult time, and helping to create services that were individual and meaningful, was one of the most rewarding parts of the role. In recent years I worked with Full Circle as a celebrant for numerous funerals and we’ve always shared very similar views about the role and importance of the funeral in the grieving process.

“After deciding the time was right for a career change, I worked as a postman for a year whilst I thought about where I could best put my skills to good use. I also kept in touch with the team at Full Circle Funerals and when they offered me a job as a trainee funeral director, I knew it was the right opportunity for me.

“It’s been a very fulfilling experience so far, and to win this award, which included competition from funeral directors from across the UK, is a fantastic way to mark my first 12 months in the profession.”

Full Circle Funerals’ founder, Sarah Jones said: “We’ve worked closely with Andrew on a wide range of funerals in recent years and he’s very compassionate and patient, as well as always providing a very personalised experience for people who want either a traditional or modern funeral.

“As a result, we knew he would be a great fit for Full Circle Funerals and he’s immediately become a valuable addition to our team. There’s no doubt he thoroughly deserves this award.”

Andrew’s training as a funeral director has involved completing Full Circle’s own in-house programme, which includes taking part in various role play exercises then reflecting on these with colleagues and shadowing a funeral director, before completing differing roles under guidance and supervision. Once tasks are complete, time is given over for personal reflection and discussion. Every funeral is also followed by a meeting to share thoughts about how it went.

In addition, every member of Full Circle Funerals continually participates in continuing professional development, which includes writing up personal reflections after each funeral as well as taking time to discuss experiences at team meetings.

Full Circle Funerals has pioneered a range of industry innovations including being one of the first in the UK to acquire an electric eco-hearse to complement its range of traditional funeral vehicles. In 2018, Sarah Jones wrote and published Funerals Your Way: A Person-Centred Approach to Planning a Funeral, and the book quickly became a successful seller on Amazon and received positive reviews, with all the proceeds donated to deserving causes.