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Obituary: Noel D. Abel

Jul 02, 2012
Noel Abel, the founder of Abels of Watton, died recently after a long illness, aged 82.

Noel was born in Norfolk and, at the age of eight, his family moved to a council house in Watton, the town that was to be his home for the rest of his life.

While still very young he developed an interest in the local Auctioneers & Estate Agents, H.G. Barnham & Son. When he was 14 he left school and took a job working for the company. He always had an eye for a business opportunity and recorded in his diary that same year that he had “Bought a watch for two pounds and sold it the same day for four.”

He met his wife, Rita, when he was just 16 and they married in 1951.  Those in the moving industry who knew Noel and Rita will remember their regular attendance at BAR and FIDI conferences and their prowess on the dance floor.

When Noel was 26 he bought the auctioneering and estate agency business and changed its name to Noel D. Abel. In 1961, following requests to use his sale yard Luton van, he started the removal business.  Initially called ‘The Safe Removal Service’, it was renamed Abels of Watton in 1971.  Ten years later, his company was proud to help the newly-married Prince Charles and Princess Diana move into their new home at Highgrove, and in 1989 the company received the Royal Warrant.

Under his, and later Tony’s leadership, ‘Abels’ developed into a substantial international removal and new furniture distribution company operating over 100 heavy goods vehicles and, employing nearly 400 people. The company was sold to Hayes Plc in 1991.

Many will remember Noel for his love of Shire Horses.  He was able to use the horses to help promote the moving business by showing them throughout the UK, France and Germany. He had many magnificent Shires; all named after kings, and collected and restored various wagons from far and wide.

Noel lost the bravely-fought battle with Parkinsons Disease on March 10, 2012, he died at home with his family by his bedside. He leaves a widow, Rita, with whom he celebrated his Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 2011, a son, Tony, a daughter, Susan, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.  A public memorial service was held on 13 April at St George’s Church, Saham Toney.

Photo: Noel Abel was well known for his love of Shire horses.

 

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