‘Sue was just like a member of the family’ - Stevenage funeral directors pay tribute

Tributes have been paid to Sue, pictured cutting the cake celebrating 40 years service with Austins

Tributes have been paid to Sue, pictured cutting the cake celebrating 40 years service with Austins in 2006, flanked by members of the Austin family including Claire, left. - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a dedicated employee who spent nearly half a century working for a family funeral director.

Sue Herd of Collenswood Road in Stevenage, died peacefully at the Garden House Hospice in Letchworth on November 3 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just six weeks earlier.

She joined Austin’s Funeral Directors when she left Heathcote School in 1966 and originally worked at the company’s offices in Letchmore Road, Stevenage.

When she started the company also operated a builders yard and was a very masculine environment. As its first female employee she wasn’t a faint-hearted lady and worked with the firm’s then owner John Austin as he expanded from one location to eight – including Hitchin, Knebworth and Stotfold, and the Harwood Park crematorium.

The company’s current managing director Claire Austin, John’s daughter, was a child when Sue started at the firm and remembers her fondly.


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She said: “Sue first started working for my dad, John, when I was six months old and helped him turn the firm from a single outlet to what is it today.

“She was married to the company and, even though she would have turned 65 in a few weeks, she never expressed any desire to retire.

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“Apart from work, her two great loves were her dogs and films. She loved walking her terriers every day and was an avid film buff.

“She had a whole library of DVDs containing thousands of films.

“For the past few years she has been caring for her elderly mother but you never heard her complain about anything. She was a true professional.

“She has always been like a member of the family to me and will be greatly missed by everyone here.”

Sue’s funeral will take place at Harwood Park in Watton Road, Stevenage, on Saturday at 12.30pm.

For all enquiries call Austin’s on 01438 316623.

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