The Co-operative Funeralcare celebrates its 1000th apprentice on Adult Learners Week

15 June 2015

- UK’s largest funeral director on track to recruit an apprentice a day in 2015
- 1000th apprentice goes from punk band singer to pall bearer


As Adult Learners’ Week gets underway (13th – 19th June), The Co-operative Funeralcare is celebrating the recruit of its 1000th apprentice, Jon Richards (45). The UK’s largest funeral director is also committing to continuing to recruit an apprentice a day during 2015.

Coming from a background as a punk band singer, Dad of two, Jon Richards has joined Funeralcare as an apprentice Funeral Services Operative based in Watford.

Jon Richards, Funeralcare apprentice

The Co-operative Funeralcare remains the only UK Funeral Director to offer an apprenticeship in Funeral Operations and Services, following its launch in 2013. Delivered in partnership with learndirect, the apprenticeship incorporates a QCF Level 2 and a QCF Level 3 in Funeral Operations and Services (formerly known as NVQ).

Speaking of the scheme, Jon Richards the 1000th apprentice for The Co-operative Funeralcare said,

“The loss of my best friend Colin last year was my first encounter of Funeralcare, and during those incredibly difficult days, the caring nature of the funeral profession stayed with me.”

“From the most devastating of circumstances I have been able to develop a career. You’d think there’s no prouder moment than being on stage with my band, but the sense of pride from caring for families at their most difficult time is something I wish I had discovered earlier in my life.”

Since its launch, the apprenticeship has attracted applicants from age 18 to 70 with recruits ranging from school leavers taking their first steps into the world of work to colleagues who have embarked on funeral services as a career change.  Supporting this transition, the programme is designed to provide those embarking on a career in funerals with high quality, industry focussed and nationally recognised qualifications.

Karen Fenton, Head of Human Resources for The Co-operative Funeralcare added,

“Working within the funeral industry isn’t always something people think of when considering employment options, but it can offer a deeply rewarding career, particularly for those who take a real pride in ensuring that every detail is as it should be.”

“We started the apprenticeship programme to provide people from all walks of life with a unique opportunity to develop a caring career in funerals. Since then, we’ve welcomed apprentices from all backgrounds including nurses, travel agents, civil servants and IT professionals. As long as someone possesses compassion, empathy and excellent service and organisational skills, we can teach everything else on the job.”

Adult Learners’ Week is a national celebration of lifelong learning and takes place from 13th-19th June this year. The week is run by NIACE (the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education). For further information, please visit:



A wide range of apprentice case studies are available upon request. These include colleagues from all walks of life and backgrounds including school leavers, stay at home parents and those seeking a career change - for example personal assistants, paramedics and car salesmen turned funeral professionals.


Media contacts:

Lauren Hoult (PR Manager) / / 07702 505 626
Emily Dalton (PR Officer) / / 07738 621 201


About The Co-operative Funeralcare

The Co-operative Funeralcare is the UK’s number one funeral services provider and part of The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest co-operative business, whose purpose is “Championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities.”