Accolades for the funeral director
Offering advice, support and help, often behind the scenes, was the nature of Dannevirke’s recently retired funeral director Grant Hurrell.
Friends and former colleagues came together with representatives of the Dannevirke community to say goodbye to Grant on Monday night, many of them having known him for more than 40 years.
“Grant and I go back 44 years to January 14, 1974, when he was a funeral director in Wellington,” said Neil Hickey, former funeral director and embalmer, and now owner of Regal Manufacturers which supplied to the funeral industry.
“Through the years I’ve watched his career blossom.”
Palmerston North funeral director Peter Beauchamp began working as a young and enthusiastic man in 1972 at the same company as Grant.
“We worked together for three years and we then hooked up later in life and over the years we’ve helped each other out,” he said.
Retired funeral director John Peryer of Hastings said Grant acquired the name Minister of Ma¯ori Affairs when he developed new ideas and concepts in embalming and tried to get them accepted by others.
“You have made a stand which was second to none. But enjoy your retirement now, you deserve it,” he said.
Former Dannevirke sexton Tom Collier said Grant did great work helping with the disinterment and re-burial of the bodies at the old Matamau Cemetery to make way for road realignment.
“I wish you well in your retirement, if there is such a thing,” he said.
Colin Veale, of the Tararua District Council, said he was the new boy on the block, having only had dealings with Grant for 20 years.
“You have been a great service to our town,” he said.
Shirley Walker, the Tararua field officer for the Cancer Society, said she wouldn’t have had her job without Grant.
“In an interview they never tell you everything,” she said. “Grant was the one person who knew everything and I thank you for all the work you have done. It hasn’t all been easy and when we’ve had difficulties, but working alongside someone who understands has been great.
Sharon Wards has known Grant for 28 years — six as they passed daily in the Manawatu¯ Gorge — Grant driving to Dannevirke, she to Palmerston North.
“Our relationship has extended over the 21 years I was manager of the Dannevirke Community Hospital and then chief executive of the Tararua Health Group,” she said. “Grant helped me through the professional and caring services he and his team provided. Grant’s support and professional advice for our midwifery team in very difficult circumstances was wonderful. He was always willing to give advice and was very empathetic. There’s a lot which has gone on behind the scenes we can thank Grant for.” Grant often preferred to stay out of the limelight, but others were determined he received accolades.
Don Stewart of Dannevirke St John said without Grant’s help he doubted Dannevirke’s vital health shuttle service would get off the ground.
“He did so much to help get the service started and just lately he has taken all our volunteers away on a trip, given us sponsorship and helped pay for first aid training,” he said.
Liz Edwards said Grant was a supporter of the Fantasy Cave and took the Cave Dweller volunteers out to dinner.
“He’s done so much more behind the scenes than this town realises,” she said.
Grant said he knew the business would be in great hands with Tracey Friend at the helm.
Former Dannevirke sexton Tom Collier speaking at Grant Hurrell’s farewell.
Neil Hickey farewells his friend and colleague of more than 44 years, Grant Hurrell.