Chelsea the Embalmer

Chelsea works as an embalmer at the Gate House, our operations centre. She does amazing work. In her spare-time she volunteers with Clacton Lifeboats, driving the machinery which launches the boats and bring them out of the water. We thought it would be interesting to offer an insight into the important work she does.

“I’ve been working as an embalmer for the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group for over 7 years. I joined when I was just 17 for work experience and liked it so much that I stayed on. I had originally wanted to be a paramedic, but when I started this work something clicked and I knew it was what I wanted to do.

“After 2 years of training with a member of the British institute of Embalmers, I passed all of my exams and qualified as an MBIE (Member of the British Institute of Embalmers) in May 2018.

“My job is to look after the loved ones of families while they are in our care, and I have such a passion for it. I make them look presentable and peaceful, ready for a chapel visit (if that is what the family want) and the funeral. It involves applying cosmetics, washing and styling hair, shaving and cleansing and painting nails, dressing them into their chosen clothing (or an ivory gown) and placing them neatly into their coffin.

“The embalming process is important for other reasons too. It slows the natural deterioration that takes place after death and is an important part of health and safety. This sounds a bit dark, but it’s so important to help families see their loved one at their best, and funerals don’t always happen quickly. During the pandemic, when there were such a huge number of deaths, embalming was really important because funerals were delayed.

“Some people think that my role is morbid and depressing, but it’s not. I love the job I do here at Hunnaball, and it helps so many people. It’s very rewarding to be entrusted with someone’s loved one, and to present them for their chapel visit or funeral. It also makes me proud to be working with a company that provides such a caring and excellent service. I’m fulfilling my dream and providing the best care and dignity I can for families and their loved ones.

“Occasionally I meet the families face to face, and some are shocked that I’m both young and female. They’re so grateful that I’m able to make their loved one look like they were before they were ill. Things have changed a lot since back in the 1900’s, when the majority of people working in the funeral industry were men. I’m thankful that I work in a place where women and men are given equal opportunities to reach their potential.

“Going forward, I really hope to continue in my role, providing families with lasting memories of their loved ones at peace.”

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