Ac­co­lades for the fu­neral di­rec­tor

Hawke's Bay Today - - Dannervirke News - Chris­tine McKay

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.

Pho­tos: Chris­tine McKay

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