“I knew at that moment, when someone else was reading my words, that it should have been me delivering the service.”

From Regenerating Towns to Celebrating Lives

While working as a Regeneration Consultant, Sue Sheppard helped to write the eulogy for her best friend's mother. The process inspired her to follow her instincts and retrain as a Civil Celebrant, a job she says couldn't be more rewarding. So how did she do it?

What were you doing previously?

For 5 years I was a self-employed consultant delivering a regeneration project in the market town of Andover.

And what are you doing now?

I am a qualified Civil Celebrant delivering funeral and wedding services.

Why did you make the change?

I enjoy the flexibility of being my own boss, and when funding for my post was coming to an end, I decided to train as a celebrant. I had done lots of public speaking in the past, and in recent years spoken at many funerals. I believe that if you fancy doing something and you can really imagine yourself doing it, you are halfway there. Your ‘mind’ has to be behind you 100%!

What was the moment that you decided to make the change?

My best friend Michelle lost her Mum in January and I helped to write the eulogy, I knew at the service when someone else was reading the words that it should have been me delivering the service. I realised there and then that I could be a great celebrant. I have always been really passionate about services being personalised, to be a true reflection and celebration of someones life.

Are you happy with the change you made?

I am delighted to be in such a special and rewarding position. The families I meet, both for weddings and funerals, are inspirational. I aim to give them the best service possible; there is nothing more rewarding than receiving their feedback when you’ve done a good job.

So what are the practical things you did to go about making the shift?

Research, research, and more research. I trained with the most successful and highly respected company I could find. I also spent time with a local independent funeral directors, S & J Maddocks, who guided me and were very generous with their time. I learnt the behind the scenes bits so I can truly speak from the heart about what happens when death occurs.

How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?

A huge drop in salary is always challenging, and you have to be prepared to adjust your lifestyle. I've completely reduced my spending, and also swapped the usual 2 week all inclusive holiday for the odd camping trip. It’s been quite liberating and also an eye opener to how much I used to spend on non-essentials!

What’s been the most difficult thing about changing?

Not knowing when you are going to work next or knowing what you will earn is challenging. Having more time on my hands is also a big change when you are used to working 40+ hours a week; somehow I seem to fill it with more work instead of leisure!

Did you get any help with your change or did you just do it by yourself?

I did it by myself, but my husband and children are very supportive of me.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?


What would you advise others to do, who are unhappy or unfulfilled in their work?

Look at what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and then make a plan. Make a wish list of potential jobs, without letting a lack of training or experience put you off. Then make the decision to go for it! Do lots of research, stick with it and accept any help or advice from others. Always spend time with like minded people; behaviour breeds behaviour!

What lessons could you take from Sue's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below. 

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.