In this episode, Helen Wathall MBE of Wathall’s Funeral Directors in Derby, shares with us the emotional and inspirational story from starting out in a male-dominated, family business at the age of 18 with no intention of staying to becoming not just a super-successful, forward-thinking and strategic family business owner, but a leading figure in her industry...

Welcome to the NXTGEN show where it’s my mission to share the stories of next-generation, family business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs from businesses of all shapes and sizes around the world.

On today’s show, I’m joined by Helen Wathall MBE.

Helen is the fifth generation of her family to run Wathall’s which, established since 1858 (over 164 years ago!) are Derby’s longest-established independent funeral directors. 

Originally planning a career in farming, she joined the business ‘temporarily’ when she was 18 and but went on to stay focusing on gaining experience in every aspect of the business before unexpectedly having to takeover as Managing Director aged just 29.

Since then, Helen has been one of the industry’s vanguard female leaders – including becoming the first woman president of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) which represents more than 1,000 family-owned firms and the first female director of Golden Charter – the UK’s largest funeral plan provider, a post she held for 6 years, finishing in December 2021.

During her tenure as Managing Director of Wathall’s, Helen has expanded the branch network to 7 offices and has developed new areas of the business – most notably the award-winning Dandelions Bereavement Support programme, and buying Art Stone Memorials. 

This is part of her goal to provide families with the full service from pre-paid funeral plans and arranging funerals to providing bereavement support and designing and erecting burial and cremation stones.

And if that wasn’t enough Helen is also Board chair of St Peters Quarter Business Improvement District.

This turned out to be a brilliant business interview with a passionate, forward-thinking and super successful family-business owner.

So without further adieu, listen to the audio or watch the full interview on Youtube below!




Connect With Helen:

Helen’s LinkedIn –

Wathall’s Website –

Wathall’s Instagram –

Wathall’s Twitter –