By Cheryle Waters, Funeral Arranger and Member Pioneer

As a Funeral Arranger, getting involved in the local community feels really natural to me. When the chance to become a Member Pioneer came up, I jumped at it. I was probably already doing some aspects without even realising, so I saw it as a great opportunity to get stuck in and open some doors.

I work closely with members, spending time networking and supporting local community groups. I’m the catalyst, working to identify things members need, then linking them up with our colleagues and local causes who have the required skills and expertise.

We have a Member Pioneer Co-ordinator who arranges regular catch-ups for each area. These are the perfect opportunity to share ideas, celebrate successes and discuss any challenges. We all work differently, so there’s no right or wrong way to do this role. I find it contagious when we get together, we always leave feeling really energised with lots of new ideas.

People say it feels better to give a present than it does to receive one. That couldn’t be more true – I feel really lucky to be able to do this role. There’s a huge sense of reward from facilitating activities, helping people become involved in their communities and making a real difference.

One of my standout moments was being able to demonstrate how members’ contributions have been spent. We arranged a coffee morning at the local funeral home, inviting members and a range of local causes to attend.

It was really useful as some Co-op members had actually joined with the sole purpose of supporting the local causes last year. By attending this session, we were able to show who they’ll now be supporting when they shop at Co-op. All of the local causes interacted with each other and are now in regular contact. In fact one of the newer ones has access to a mini bus and now spends time helping another group of elderly gentlemen get to their bowls tournaments!

Social media is also amazing when it comes to being a Member Pioneer, it’s a great tool for this kind of work. I certainly wouldn’t have my network without it. I follow other Member Pioneers to see the inspiring work they’re doing, and it’s perfect for getting new ideas. You can always ask them for advice too.

Currently there are around 300 Member Pioneers across the country all doing fantastic work in their communities. We’re recruiting for more Member Pioneers, so if this sounds like the role for you, or maybe you know a colleague who’d be perfect at inspiring others to co-operate and make a difference, take a look at

The application process includes sending a copy of your CV and a short assessment to determine if the Member Pioneer role is right for you. Don’t be put off though, it’s a straightforward process and your results don’t affect your current role. If you have any questions, email and the team will be able to help you further.

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Congratulations Cheryle, You are so good at what you do! A true inspiration, the passion you have is unbelievable! im so pleased to call you a friend.

    Well Done xxxx

  2. Great article Cheryle.
    As a great believer in community work and as I do do a fair bit already I was only too happy to step into this role but, while I am not always chasing money I thought it was a bit unfair for me to have to take a pay cut to actually do it.
    Also, the application , CV and interview seemed quite heavy for something I already do.
    So, as yet I haven’t applied.

  3. Brilliant article Cheryle, keep up the good work!

  4. Congratulations Cheryle, you are my inspiration and your enthusiasm is infectious. It is a pleasure to be part of your team here in Northumberland Tyne and Wear. Here’s to great things in the year ahead for our members and the Co-op.
    Elaine – Seaham Co-op Funeralcare

  5. Great to read your article Cheryl, in the short time I have known you I quickly realised that you are the perfect Person Spec for a Member Pioneer, you have a natural ability to engage with people of all ages and backgrounds, your bubbly nature makes people want to get on board with whatever you are planning

    If we can find some more hidden Cheryl’s in our existing workforce then the Members Pioneer role will become very strong across the country

    If you want to become a Member Pioneer and make a difference in your local community then now is your opportunity, what have you got to lose?

    Thanks for sharing your story Cheryl, I love your energy and passion


    • Just realised I’ve spelled your name wrong Cheryle, Sorry kidder my bad, I was off that day!

    • A very wise (and witty) man once told me that people of substance don’t let things happen to them, they go and happen to things…

      Thanks Kenny for your lovely words of wisdom and support.
      (for anyone reading this Kenny is our Memory Box creator and well worth following on yammer for some great ideas )

  6. Congratulations Cheryle, well done , the article is great and so fits your ability to work in the community. I love your passion and strive to do what you do, you are an inspiration.
    Cheryle and I met in Manchester 2 years ago, we hit it off like a house on fire and continue to support each other from your colleague and friend, Ruth in Bridge of Allan , Scotland.

    • Its a joy to work with you Ruth, meeting you helped me discover more ways to engage with the community. You are an absolute credit to the Co op. Cant wait to do more events with you.

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