Jacqueline Smith has received a special commemorative award for 30 years of service from her employer, Dignity Funerals.
Smith is funeral manager at The Titford Funeral Service in Clacton, Frinton, and Holland-On-Sea and as one of Essex’s longest-serving funeral professionals.
She has worked as manager at the Clactor branch for three years and also manages funeral businesses in Colchester and Witham.
Smith, who is originally from Scotland, previously worked as a pub landlady before she entered the funeral sector.
She said: “Funerals have changed immensely because of the multicultural society we live. We’ve had to learn about and adapt to so many different cultures and traditions, which has been an amazing experience.
“I could be conducting a service one day and it’s a solemn, traditional service with a horse drawn funeral carriage, everyone dressed in black and the next day I’m walking in front of a dancing upbeat jazz band dressed in every bright colour under the sun.”
She added: “There have been many memorable moments in my career but the most poignant was that of a colleague, mentor and friend. Conducting his funeral was an honour but also a difficult task. I wanted to be upset like everyone else but all I could hear was his words ‘keep that head up lady, be proud of who you are’, so I did.”