Tributes to funeral director ‘devoted’ to his community

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A well-known joiner and funeral director who was devoted to improving his home village has died at the age of 78.

Mervyn Crabtree owned a successful firm in Bruntcliffe, later running Crabtree and Son funeral directors with his son Peter. A lifelong Drighlington resident, he was a passionate campaigner on local issues and was involved with several clubs and organisations.

Mervyn was born in Morley Hall in 1938, and as a child attended the old Drighlington Junior School, which he would later fight to save after the building was threatened with demolition.

His original business was called Crabtree and Astin, where his eldest son Martin served his apprenticeship, and he won prestigious joinery contracts with St James’s Hospital. He and wife Monica even built their own timber-framed bungalow after their marriage in 1967, and were still living there when Mervyn passed away.

“He managed to get the school listed and it’s now been developed into apartments - he attended it himself, as did both his sons. He was very passionate and he really cared about his local area,” said Peter.

Mervyn was a member of the Morley Elderly Action committee and Birstall Woodturning Club, whose displays he would help to run at shows and galas.

A keen gardener, he won prizes for his plants and also helped organise a bulb planting scheme in Drighlington in conjunction with the parish council.

“I admired him greatly, and I looked up to him and aspire to be like him. He was honest and very fair with everybody that he encountered, and he was very well-respected.

“He cared about Drighlington and would campaign fiercely about anything he thought was unjust. He was such a hard worker,” added Peter.

“He was always willing to offer friendly advice or help and he had a kind and gentle nature, unless of course he was on his soapbox!”

Mervyn also leaves his sister Mavis, who helped to run the business alongside Monica.

His funeral service will be held at St Paul’s Church, Whitehall Road, Drighlington, on Friday September 16 at 11am.