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On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, the UK’s youngest funeral director in 1983, Timothy Penrose, shares details of his autobiography, Undertaking In The Fast Lane, and what inspired him to write it.

The UK’s youngest funeral director in 1983, Tim Penrose conducted his first funeral at just eighteen. His autobiography, Undertaking in the Fast Lane, not only shares how he found himself in the right place at the right time, but how working under tutelage of one the industry’s leading arbiters for change, he reached the top of his profession and played a key role in building a public company and ultimately an empire of over 650 funeral homes.

Funeral Director’s Autobiography

This intriguing autobiography shares the inside story of an industry that very few of us consider, until we have need of its services.

Sharing the madness and merriment of the funeral business, author Tim Penrose found himself as righthand man to one of the leading advocates for industry change during the 80’s. His memoir takes the reader on a compelling tour of life as a funeral director (including conducting the funeral services for four SAS members), as well as developments and advances in the sector; and how funeral directors, like any others in business, are filled with ambition to create an empire and legacy.

Undertaking In The Fast Lane by Timothy Penrose on The Table Read
Undertaking In The Fast Lane

Eloquent, insightful, frequently hilarious and far from morbid, Undertaking in the Fast Lane, is an uplifting and fascinating read that leaves the reader better informed as to the care and professionalism of the industry, whilst also reiterating that whatever sector you operate in, business success is the cherry on the top.

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Undertaking In The Fast Lane

I was thrust into funeral directing at a very young age, saw my first dead body at the tender age of eighteen and conducted my first funeral at the absurdly young age of eighteen. I was very fortunate to be working in the industry when it was undergoing a huge shake up and worked for the largest company in the country at the sharp end of their growth for seven years. I have now attempted to recall some of the memories I have from those times and some of the crazier ones from the late 80’s.

About Timothy Penrose

“My book, in two, parts, details the time between 1983 and 1990, ground-breaking years for funeral directing firms.  It peels back the secret curtain of not only funerals but also the manic programme of acquisitions and centralisation of funeral homes under the mercurial maverick Howard Hodgson who personally hired me in October 1983 and was my boss throughout.”

Timothy Penrose left school  with four ‘O’ Levels and conducted his first funeral at the age of seventeen. He joined Hodgson & Sons in 1983 when they had nine funeral homes and by 1990 the group had grown to over 650.  He has personally arranged over 3,000 funerals including four members of the 22 SAS regiment. 

Timothy Penrose on The Table Read
Timothy Penrose
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Tim was proud and privileged to be at the centre of the astonishing growth of Hodgson Holdings, growth which undoubtedly changed the profession.

He now lives in Devon, swimming in the river and writing educational songs (but not often at the same time) and is a proud husband to Ruth for 33 years and Dad to three daughters, now all grown up.  He  often thinks of his funeral career and says to himself “What luck”.

Find more now:

Independently published, Undertaking in the Fast Lane, is available in paperback (£15.00) and Kindle format on Amazon at

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