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Edited from an article in the Evening Telegraph, 14th October 1994
Patricia Abbott - Wins an Award
Very Caring Lady Wins Top U.K. Award

Patricia Abbott, one of the few female funeral directors in the country, has won one of the highest honours in her profession. Her quiet sensitivity & business acumen have been rewarded with the title 'Funeral Planner of the Year'. The award is made annually by the largest funeral planning network in the country, who judged Patricia the most outstanding planner out of 1200 funeral directors.

Gentle and compassionate

Pat receiving her award
This gentle, compassionate lady is a director of the well established family firm of A. Abbott & Sons of Bedford Road, Rushden. She has seen how often families, numbed with bereavement, can suffer even more when faced with the costs of the funeral. An additional worry can be not knowing what arrangements the deceased would have wanted. Her awareness of this dilemma encouraged Patricia to offer pre-payment plans for funerals, an idea popular in the U.S.A. She believes that, far from being morbid or macabre, funeral planning is financial common sense and the most thoughtful decision anyone can make on the family’s behalf.

Peace of mind

Peace of mind is an immediate benefit. With a pre-paid funeral plan, you can rest content that your family won't be burdened with expenses - no matter how much future costs may rise.

"Like many other things, funeral costs are currently running above the rate of inflation' says Patricia, 'But once you have paid for your plan, the price remains unchanged. There's not a penny more to pay'.

What a Will does not take care of

Many people believe that a Will takes care of everything: funeral expenses, details of burial and other wishes. 'Not necessarily so', explains Patricia. "You might have a strong preference for certain hymns or flowers. But while it's essential that you make a Will, remember that it is often not read until the funeral arrangements have been put in hand'.

Cushioning the bereaved

Patricia sees a large element of her job as cushioning the bereaved and guiding them through the maze of formalities which inevitably accompany a death. 'When the deceased is at peace, a funeral provides the living with a chance for that final farewell. If this has been arranged in advance, the bereaved can grieve unencumbered by feelings of anxiety.'

If you were to watch Patricia in the Chapel of Rest, affording the last touches of dignity to an aged woman you would be struck by her total commitment to her profession. 'This is not a nine-to-five exercise' she says. 'Unless you are prepared to be on call 24 hours of every day, you cannot do your job properly. To look after a bereaved family you must be there when you are needed.' This deep sympathy for human needs encouraged her to work with others in setting up the bereavement organisation, CRUSE. She is now an accredited CRUSE counsellor. 'At times it can be easier for a widow or widower to talk over their feelings with someone who is not an immediate family member. Anything discussed with a CRUSE counsellor is held in strictest confidence. This often helps people to open up and release their feelings.'

A woman's touch

Patricia believes that a woman has distinct advantages in her profession. 'Women do have rather more of a licence to touch. If someone is distressed, it is quite acceptable for me to put an arm around their shoulder and comfort them.'

Patricia in the lounge where she talks to clients
Successful business woman, understanding counsellor. When it comes to stereotypes, Patricia Abbott has broken them all. Her award, judged not only on numbers but also on the accuracy of administration and liaison with customers, reflects her caring approach to a sensitive subject.


Patricia joined the family firm established in 1885 by Asher Abbott, grandfather of her husband Bill, when she was at a crossroads in her own life.

'My first marriage had ended and I was left with three children under the age of five' she recalls. 'I joined Bill, now my husband, in 1970. Although, in the early days, I simply handled enquiries if Bill was out, I soon found people were asking for me by name.'

Alan Kee presents the trophy to Patricia
When Asher Abbott started the business, carriages were horse drawn and the local fire brigade borrowed the horses when they were needed. Four generations on, the firm now offers a service chapel, chapels of rest, catering services and a Memorial Display area.

A. Abbott & Sons is still a wholly family concern. William Asher Abbott, the Managing Director, Patricia's sons, Michael and Jonathan, and daughter Beverley are closely involved in the day-to-day running of the firm. But it's Patricia who visits every person who wants to know about pre-payment plans and ensures that their needs are met.

Deserved acclaim

This personal involvement was one of the factors which commended her for the top prize. 'I was surprised and thrilled' she says. 'As independent funeral directors, we feel it's extremely important to be linked with a nationally recognised company with a legally formed trust to safeguard our clients.'

The final word comes from Alan Kee who presented the award: 'Patricia won the award because she deals very sensitively with people, because she is 100 per cent committed to the idea of planning funerals in advance - and because she is a very, very caring lady.'

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