Wathall’s Win Regional Award
Helen Wathall MBE has won the title of Family Business Director of the Year in the prestigious Midlands Institute of Directors annual awards.
Helen is the fifth generation of her family to run Wathall’s which is Derby’s longest established independent funeral directors - established since 1858 - and now also has branches in Ashbourne, Alvaston, Borrowash and Burton.
She was appointed Managing Director after the death of her father Bill Wathall and has recently been joined in the business by her daughters Bec and Charlotte.
Helen was the first female and the youngest ever National President of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors in 2002 and in 2016 she was appointed as the first female non executive board director of Golden Charter – the UK’s leading provider of funeral plans in the UK.
She is Board Chair of St Peters Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) and was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List last year for services to the business and the community of Derbyshire.
Wathall’s is now planning future expansion by opening new branches across Derbyshire. This will better serve more local communities both in terms of the services that it provides and partnership opportunities to support more organisations who provide a lifeline to people when they desperately need it.
The IoD awards were announced at a virtual ceremony and Ms Wathall said afterwards:
“This is a huge honour and testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone who works with us today and the innovation embedded by past family members and employees during our long history.
“My two daughters have now joined me in the business and share my passion that we continue to serve our local communities and support people at difficult times in their lives.”
Services have been expanded during Helen’s tenure to include:
- Funeral arranging – arranging more than 950 funerals a year
- Funeral planning – opening more than 200 new funeral plans a year
- Later life planning – enabling people to register their funeral wishes and other instructions
- Dandelions Bereavement Support – an expanded programme to support people through their bereavement journey with practical and emotional help
- Design and manufacturing of memorial stones, graveside ornaments and pet memorials by Art Stone Memorials in Burton which is part of Wathall’s
In addition, Wathall’s has always been committed to being much more than a funeral director and to making a positive contribution to the well-being of the communities that it serves.
Community support ranges from work to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour as part of St Peters Quarter Business Improvement District to supporting a wide range of charities by donating 10% of its profits to local good causes. And during the Covid pandemic, services, support for families and community impact during the pandemic have all been adapted to meet Government guidelines and the professionalism and experience of the team has been put to the ultimate test.
Helen Wathall also represents all Derbyshire funeral directors on the Local Resilience Forum which is run by Derbyshire County Council Emergency Planning.