AFTER a long career in the publishing industry, cartoonist and former newspaper sub-editor Martin Ross wasn’t sure what path his career would take next until he saw an advert for a vacancy with Full Circle Funerals.

As a cartoonist, Martin Ross has seen his work feature in Punch, Private Eye and the local press. He left the newspaper industry to become a freelance illustrator but it wasn’t until he took a job at Outside the Box community café in Ilkley that he realised he enjoyed doing something more practical and useful.

“I was furloughed during Covid and that gave me time to think about my next step so when I saw the job advertised it felt right somehow and I wanted to find out more about it,” Martin recalls.

Despite being attracted to the role, Martin still had plenty of reservations.

“I could see the value of the job and I quickly got a sense that this was an employer that shared my values but I didn’t know if I had it in me to do it.

“I was worried about how I might feel when meeting someone who had died and at 54, I wasn’t sure if I had the mental capacity to pick up a completely new career from scratch.”

Martin said he was nervous about how he would come across to people he would be meeting in very challenging circumstances but made a leap of faith and joined Full Circle Funerals in Guiseley.

“The first few months were pretty intense as I absorbed all the information and processes that go on behind the scenes,” says Martin.

“The first phone call I had to make to follow up an enquiry was nerve-wracking but it didn’t turn out to be as hard as I’d expected and once I’d done it I felt a lot better.

“The team at Full Circle have been fantastic and I shadowed one of the team in the beginning but I was encouraged to do things on my own from quite early on, knowing people were always there to support me and answer my questions.

“The company has a clear purpose and strong values which has really helped me to feel like I’m part of something special and making a difference.”

Although the career is very different, Martin says there are some skills from his time in the publishing industry that have helped.

“As a cartoonist, and later as a subeditor and content editor, accuracy was really important,” he explains.

“I’m a perfectionist and that comes in handy in this job where every detail matters.

“The other similarity is the unpredictability - I’ll come into work with a rough idea of how the day will go and then the phone will ring and everything changes. That reminds me of my newspaper days and I enjoy the fact that no two days are the same.”

Martin says one of the most rewarding things about being a funeral director is looking after someone who has died.

“It feels like a really nice thing to do and I like giving the person that time and attention. It’s also a real privilege to meet people and hear the story of someone’s whole life,” he says.

“I find it satisfying when all the hard work that goes into organising a funeral pays off and everything falls into place. It’s lovely to get positive feedback after a funeral too.”