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Herts funeral director wins UK entrepreneur award

Claire Austin, managing director of Austin’s Funeral Directors in Hertfordshire, has been named the UK’s Entrepreneur of the Year at a prestigious business awards ceremony.

She picked up her award from the British Chambers of Commerce at a gala dinner at London’s Guildhall in front of an audience of more than 500 people.

“I am amazed and thrilled to have won this award, but I really couldn’t have done it without the support and loyalty of the entire Austin’s team,” said a delighted Claire.

“Our whole business is about providing an outstanding service to our clients and everybody in the team plays a vital role in doing that.”

Austin’s made it to the national final, which was hosted by BBC broadcaster Declan Curry, having won the Business of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year categories at the Chamber’s East of England awards. Some 85 companies from all over the UK attended the national final, competing in 14 categories.

The Entrepreneur of the Year award is designed to recognise an individual who has been “instrumental in the success of a business, taking into consideration the overall performance of the business over the last three years”.

Claire, who has headed Austin’s since 2001 and is the 10th generation of her family to do so, was praised for growing the 312-year-old company significantly while continuing to focus on offering a level of service that “set the company apart from its national competitors”.

The judges were particularly impressed by Claire’s use of feedback and a mystery shopper review, which led to several innovations for the sector.

Martyn Pellew, British Chambers of Commerce president, said: “Claire Austin is a fitting winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year award, and shows what can be achieved when you innovate and continually improve the way you do business.”

Austin’s has eight branches throughout North and East Hertfordshire and also owns and operates Harwood Park Crematorium in Stevenage.

PHOTO: Claire (left) received her award from Sarah Wood of award sponsor Unruly Media

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