Helen Wathall, Managing Director of Derby’s longest established independent funeral director, Wathall’s, has been awarded an MBE by HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace.
Miss Wathall (52) was awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for her services to business and the local community.
She was accompanied to the official investiture by her three children Bec (25), Charlotte (21), Hugo (14) and best friend Melanie Holwell and was delighted when it was announced who would be carrying out the investiture.
“It was a huge honour to be awarded an MBE and the icing on the cake was definitely learning that Prince William was officiating on that day.
“He was wonderfully warm and friendly which put everyone at ease. It was a lovely day and something that we will all never forget.”
Helen Wathall is the fifth generation of her family to run Wathall’s which has offices in Macklin Street, Alvaston, Borrowash, Ashbourne and Burton.
She has worked in the family business since she was 18 and has been Managing Director since she was just 29 – taking over the reins of the company on the death of her father Bill.
Miss Wathall is also volunteer chair of St Peters Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) where she has been particularly involved in initiatives to improve the safety, cleanliness and sense of community in the area since the launch of the first BID in 2011.
Nationally, she was elected in 2003 as the first woman president of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) which represents more than 800 family-owned firms. During this time, she represented SAIF nationally, dealing with government policy and profession issues.
She also became the first woman board member of Golden Charter – a pre-paid funeral planning company owned by a group of independent funeral directors. Golden Charter is the UK’s largest funeral plan provider, working with over 3000 funeral directors nationally, and with over 500,000 plans taken out.