Undertaker, 17, sets up his own business

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The Independent Online

A boy of 17 has become possibly the youngest funeral director in Britain to set up his own business.

George Simnett set up shop as an undertaker after just two months learning how to clean and prepare bodies for funerals. The teenager runs his company, GE Simnett and Family, from the premises of Charnwood Funeral Services in Loughborough, Leicestershire, where he learnt his trade. He plans to buy his own office as soon as he finds suitable premises.

After leaving school, George at first intended to carry on his family's farming tradition. He said: "I went to agricultural college and I had 150 sheep, but I wasn't earning enough from them to make a wage so I had to get rid of them.

"I always wanted to be an undertaker, helping people at difficult times. I think I'm a caring person and I like caring for families. Preparing the body and getting it right for when the family sees it is very rewarding."

While other young men his age get their kicks from computer games and television, George enjoys getting corpses ready for funerals.

He said yesterday: "We clean up and prepare the bodies. We wash them, wash their hair, dry them, put make-up on their faces, cap their eyes and sew their mouths up to make them look like they're asleep. They look like ghosts when they come in here but there's a big difference before and after. And the families are so grateful."

George said he was used to dealing with death, having grown up on a farm. "Death is nothing unusual for me. I'm not squeamish about handling bodies at all," he added."My mum will do the flower arranging when I get my own office."

George is not the only young person planning a future in funerals. Two months ago, Rachael Ryan, 15, made headlines when she said she intended to become the nation's youngest undertaker.

Although she has helped out with the family business already, the teenager, of Newport, south Wales, is waiting to finish school before signing up full-time.

She intends to follow in the footsteps of Daniel Taylor, who reportedly became Britain's youngest undertaker in 2006 at the age of 16. Inspired by watching the funeral parlour documentary Don't Drop The Coffin when he was young, he organised his own work experience placement at Mason and Stokes, a funeral director in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, which offered him a job when he left school.

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