Heaven and Hell: Anne Beckett-Allen

PUBLISHED: 11:37 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:37 11 February 2020

Anne Beckett-Allen  Picture: Wendy Aiken Photography

Anne Beckett-Allen Picture: Wendy Aiken Photography


Anne was a founding funeral director of Rosedale Funeral Home which has won three Archant Business Awards for its environmental ethos, family values and corporate and social responsibility. She is one of the most highly qualified funeral directors in the country and is also a trustee of local children’s bereavement charity Nelson’s Journey and a mental health first aid instructor for MHFA England. Anne lives in Scole with her husband Simon and their two youngest children along with their dog, ponies, chickens and cats. Here she talks to Gina Long.

What is your connection to East Anglia?

I was born here, right on the Norfolk/Suffolk border and have lived here all my life.

What is your East Anglian Heaven, ie what do you love most about East Anglia?

I love the people, especially the community spirit, the cycle paths, long-distance walks, and the endless possibilities for wild swimming. I also love the Norwich Steiner School which has been perfect for my children, allowing them to learn at their own pace and develop a lifelong love for learning.

What is your East Anglian Hell, ie what you hate most about living here?

I'm sad that our mental health services are in crisis and wish that we could do more to support our young people. I'm working with the mayor of Beccles to train mental health first aiders for young people across our local schools and sports clubs to ensure that there is more local support.

What's your favourite East Anglian restaurant?

For somewhere right on our doorstep, either Weavers in Diss or the Bull Auberge in Eye, or if we're "going up the city" then Benedicts or the Waffle House.

What's your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?

Canoeing to Geldeston Locks to listen to live music, or just sitting in the garden with a good book while my husband Simon cooks. The Assembly House also puts on some amazing events - we're going to My Last Supper with Jay Rayner in February which we're really looking forward to.

What's your favourite East Anglian landmark?

The obelisk on the A11, because whenever I'm driving home I always know I'm getting close. You're probably after something more beautiful though so probably The Windmill at Cley. It reminds me of walking the Norfolk Coastal Path with my mum and sister.

What's the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

I love the agricultural shows, but I also really enjoy the Beccles Food Festival. Since we opened Rosedale in Beccles, it has become like a second home to us, and we really feel a part of the local community.

What is your specialist Mastermind subject?

A bit sad really, but it would probably be the law of burial and cremation! I rarely listen to the news or read a paper so I'm rubbish at quizzes. I taught the foundation degree in funeral services at Bath University for a while and I love sharing best practice in the funeral profession and raising the bar for bereaved families.

What is always in your fridge?

A veg box from Clinks Care Farm.

What's your simple philosophy of life?

What's the worst that can happen? If you're given a chance to do something, just do it - you're a long time dead.

What's your favourite film?

Avengers Endgame. I'm a reasonably new Avengers fan, and my teenage son Tom and I have been binge-watching them all to get up to date before it was released.

What was your first job?

I had a paper round when I was 13. I wanted my dad to be proud of my work ethic. He never said anything, so I took on another one. He still never said anything, so I became the holiday sickness cover, which basically meant on a rainy morning when the others didn't want to do their rounds I got them all. One morning I did five rounds before school - then I overheard him telling mum he was proud of me, but he rarely did it to my face.

What is your most treasured possession?

A stone paperweight that used to sit on top of my dad's in-tray. I can hold it and feel close to him. I also have my first set of business accounts which were written in felt tip in a school exercise book. We kept chickens and when I was about 10 dad decided he would use it as a way to teach me about business. I had to take out a loan from my parents to buy the day-old chicks and enough food until they could lay eggs. Then I sold the eggs to the neighbours to help repay the loan and then once I'd broken even but wanted to make a profit, yup - you guessed it! I had to do the plucking and gutting as well. I remember my brother crying when we had his cockerel Archie for dinner one night.

Who do you admire most?

There are so many people that spring to mind, it's hard to single out any one person. Roella Trudgill is a lady who is beautiful inside and out. I trained her as a mental health first aider, a role which she takes very seriously, and she is a great listener, always encouraging people to open up and get things off their chests. She takes every opportunity to put her mental health first aid skills to good use in the community and champions many causes that are close to her heart, such as the "Happy To Chat Bench" initiative which encourages lonely people to sit and chat to folk. Bill Armstrong was the coroner for Norfolk and I have the utmost of respect for him. He is a patron for Nelson's Journey and Norfolk & Norwich CRUSE and also chairs the Norfolk Suicide Prevention Committee which Rosedale sits on, so our paths often cross professionally. ut I know that he also does so much more that he never shouts about, such as his work at Hebron House with women living with addiction, and yet he is so humble and down to earth, approachable, and generous with his time.

What is your biggest indulgence?

An annual juice detox with my best friend Tracey at Juicy Oasis in Portugal.

What do you like about yourself most?

My capacity to forgive. My can-do attitude. My stamina and drive. My big heart.

What's your worst character trait?

I am very driven which can be a good thing, but I can also find it hard to switch off and relax, and I can also feel and make people close to me feel that they aren't good enough. My great nan used to say to me "Good, better best, may you never rest, 'til your good is better, and your better, best." I guess she meant well, but it was a bit of a curse really because it just makes you feel that no matter what you achieve you are never good enough.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

The Lake District. I have so many happy memories there and go almost every year. Last year I climbed Scarfell Pike for the fourth time as part of the Three Peaks Challenge and swam Lake Conniston end to end (6 miles) to raise money for Nelson's Journey.

Best day of your life?

Acquiring a stepdaughter. Hattie is 24 now and I've loved watching her grow from a little girl in ballet shoes to head girl at the Anglia Region Theatre School and truly admire the work she does with autistic children at The Wherry School.

What's your favourite breakfast?

Avocado on toast at the River Green Cafe in Debenham where my son Tom works. It's great to be served by my son, but even better that he has to do the washing up!

What's your favourite tipple?

A glass of crisp Bacchus from Flint Vineyard at Earsham. Ben and Hannah have set up a fabulous local vineyard which is well worth a tour, especially combined with their five mile tasting menu where all the ingredients are sourced within a five mile radius of the vineyard.

What's your hidden talent?

I can juggle. I'm also quite good at poo picking the horses, as that's pretty much the only way I get to spend time with my 13 year old daughter Victoria.

When were you most embarrassed?

When I was little my parents took me to see Pam Ayres. Some of the children got invited on stage and I got asked what pets I had. When I said we kept chickens, Pam asked me how many we had got. I said that we had got four left, and the whole crowd burst out laughing.

What's your earliest memory?

Being told off for taking eggs from a bird's nest. I think I was just four, they were so beautiful and didn't realise how bad it was.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think

Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink

The years go by, as quickly as you wink

Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think…

I'd like it performed by Swervy World as they walk me to my plot in Colney Wood.

Tell us something people don't know about you?

I used to play the tambourine in the Salvation Army. I've had a motorbike licence for 16 years. I help care for my granddad who has dementia.

What's the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

That they didn't have anything to be grateful for - that made me very sad. I count my blessings every day.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

There's no place like home. My friends and family are all here, as well as our business.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

To look out for the Creative Matters season at the Norwich Theatre Royal this Spring, as Rosedale is partnering with them to deliver a season of performances and events around loss and bereavement. Rosedale is also working on a project to publish a recipe/self-help book aimed at bereaved adults who now have to cook for one. We would still like to receive recipe submissions, so please do get in touch via our website

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