DIY industry pays tribute to former Hardware Retailer of the Year winner and former BIRA vice-president, Vivienne Abbott who passed away peacefully on Friday, August 4, aged 63 after a “short but brave battle with cancer”.
Mrs Abbott, who ran Abbotts DIY with her sons Chris and Jeff, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. Speaking to DIY Week, Chris Abbott said that she “nodded off peacefully in her favourite chair” last Friday, which he added was a small comfort to the family and meant she avoided having to spend the final weeks of her life in hospital.
He explained that, after being told that Vivienne’s illness was terminal on Christmas Eve, the family, “actually had a really fun year, doing all the things she wanted to do and making every day count”. She was also able to spend precious time with her two grandchildren, William and Amelia. “Family was everything to her,” Chris said.
The Abbott family have been overwhelmed by the response from the industry since the news of Vivienne’s death broke. “We have had so many emails and cards sent,” said Chris. “It’s amazing. I think we’ve had a card from nearly every shopkeeper south of Edinburgh. It has been a massive comfort to us, and it’s so wonderful to see how well she was thought of.”
Abbotts DIY was first established in 1979 by Vivienne’s husband Tony Abbott and his father Alec. Prior to Alec’s death in 2003, there had been three generations of the Abbott family working alongside one another.
As well as continuing to grow and develop the family retail business, which boasts two shops in Devon, Tony and Vivienne were both very active within the DIY industry, the British Independent Retailer Association (BIRA,) of which they were members, and also within their local community.
Following Tony’s sad and untimely death in 2012 from a brain tumour, Vivienne continued to run and build the business with her sons, bagging the Hardware Retailer of the Year title at the DIY Week Awards in 2016. “That was the pinnacle of what the three of us had achieved with the business together,” said Chris.
Vivienne was chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in Ottery St Mary on three occasions and was also due to take up the presidency of BIRA this year, having served as vice-president – a role Chris said she was “really looking forward to”. He added that Vivienne had been extremely disappointed she was unable able to fulfil the role due to her ill health but said that her achievements and the tributes from people across the industry made him, his brother Jeff and sister Marie, “immensely proud”.
Chris and Jeff are now determined to continue their parent’s hard work and legacy. “They are very big shoes to fill!” he exclaimed.
Vivienne’s funeral will take place at 2pm on Friday, August 18 at St Mary’s Church, Ottery St Mary, Devon, EX11 1DQ. All are welcome to attend. It will be family flowers only but people can make a donation to Force Cancer Charity and Kings House Day Hospice at http://www.love2donate.co.uk//inmemory/identify_name.php?currentpage=1&chosen=16854