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Frances has been at the same Loddon firm for 70 years

08:15 09 July 2014

Eighty eight year old Frances Freestone who has worked for 70 years at Youngs ( Funeral Services ) , Bridge Street Loddon. Pictured with colleagues left to right Jimmy Surman, Sally Gunton and Martyn Smith.Photo: Steve Adams

Eighty eight year old Frances Freestone who has worked for 70 years at Youngs ( Funeral Services ) , Bridge Street Loddon. Pictured with colleagues left to right Jimmy Surman, Sally Gunton and Martyn Smith.Photo: Steve Adams

Research shows that the average person stays in one job for no more than five years.

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Eighty eight year old Frances Freestone who has worked for 70 years at Youngs ( Funeral Services ) , Bridge Street Loddon. Photo: Steve AdamsEighty eight year old Frances Freestone who has worked for 70 years at Youngs ( Funeral Services ) , Bridge Street Loddon. Photo: Steve Adams

But south Norfolk octogenarian Frances Freestone has firmly proved that this isn’t always the case.

Not only has the pensioner had the same job as a funeral arranger in Loddon since 1944, she has also been working for the same company.

Tomorrow Miss Freestone will celebrate a double milestone – her 88th birthday and an astonishing 70 years of doing a job she truly loves.

During her career as employee and partner at Youngs Independent Funeral Directors, Miss Freestone has helped hundreds of families get through the toughest time of their lives with her caring and compassionate nature.

She has made scores of pillows to sit in coffins, seen the cost of a funeral soar from £30 to £3,500 and watched as the business has changed and evolved.

She said: “I’ve always loved looking after people and helping people when they are upset.

“I remember saying at the beginning that I didn’t want to see a dead body but I soon got used to it. Although there was one day while the men were preparing a coffin they picked me up and put me in it and my brother stood there with the lid ready to put it on!”

When Miss Freestone was 18 she heard of an opening at a firm of builders and funeral directors called Youngs at Chedgrave.

Her job was to help Alfred Youngs do the wages for 39 men, prepare building quotes and assist with funeral arrangements.

She soon excelled in the funeral side of the business and when Mr Youngs died in the 1970s the family split up the business and gave the funeral part to Miss Freestone and her brother Charles who ran it together in Bridge Street, Loddon, where it remains today.

Martyn Smith bought Mr Freestone’s share in 2000 when he decided to retire, and together he and Miss Freestone also opened a DIY store at the back of the funeral directors, which closed in 2010.

Although for the past two years Miss Freestone has taken a step back, Mr Smith still collects her each day from her Loddon home to have lunch with the team before dropping her home mid-afternoon.

She said: “I like sitting at my desk reading the EDP! I’m proud as I
can still walk, still talk and be a nuisance!”

Do you know any long-serving employees in Norfolk or Suffolk? Email louisa.lay@archant.co.uk

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