British expats Keith Ashby and his wife Carol decided to arrange their Avalon funeral plans after relocating from Basingstoke to Spain. Just two weeks later, Carol passed away in tragic and unexpected circumstances. Here, Keith explains how Carol’s plan helped him through the most upsetting time of his life.
“It was about twenty years ago when Carol took early retirement from her career as a teacher due to ill health. After two years of seeing her enjoying all that free time, I decided I wanted some of that too!” laughs Keith, 71. “Within a few months I’d retired from my job as a printer when I was 52 and we started to plan our retirement adventure.”
The couple began their retirement years together touring Portugal, Spain and France in their caravan, and fell in love with living abroad. “Carol adored France but I was really drawn to Spain because of the warmer weather. The heat also helped with Carol’s poor circulation, so we decided to move here to Torrevieja, near Alicante.”
Whilst many people find the task of relocating a stressful time sorting everything out, Keith and Carol thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It couldn’t have been easier… perhaps it helped that after touring in our caravan we knew exactly where we wanted to move to. We found a beautiful apartment right on the sea front overlooking the Mediterranean and everything went through very easily. The great thing about Spain is that there’s loads of fellow expats out here, so it’s easy to get help and advice if you need it.”
Shortly after retiring to Spain, the couple attended a financial meeting organised by an investment company. It was here that they met a representative from Avalon. “We were very interested in the benefits of a plan and knew it was something we both wanted to arrange,” explains Keith.
“We didn’t have any children nor did we have any close relations left between us. So when we arranged our plans it was real peace of mind that whichever one of us was to go first, the other one would have all the support needed to plan the funeral. We also knew that the cost of funerals is rising quickly and we could save money by arranging our plans now.”
Just two weeks later, during dinner together at a local restaurant, Carol suffered a fatal heart attack. “It was all so sudden, one minute we were enjoying a romantic meal and the next she was on the floor while we tried to resuscitate her. It was awful. I’m still so sad that I never got to say goodbye, she was there one minute and gone the next.”
Due to the short timeframe, their funeral plans hadn’t been finalised yet, so Keith was very relieved when Avalon called to reassure him that everything would be arranged according to Carol’s plan.
“When we took out the plans I had no idea how soon my wife’s would be needed, it was all such a shock. I’m so relieved that we arranged them when we did, the support I was given made the world of difference. The funeral director chosen by Avalon was nothing short of fantastic, they called me up straight away and I dealt with a lovely young lady who guided me through the entire process.”
“Not only did she arrange the funeral and explain to me everything that I needed to do, she even asked me if I wanted to look after Carol for a couple of days myself before we took her to the tantorio, the Spanish name for a crematorium. After her sudden passing I needed that extra bit of time with her, it was very thoughtful of them.”
“Little details tend to stick in your mind when you lose someone close to you. For instance, I wanted my wife’s favourite teddy bear with her in the coffin as she’d had it since she was a little girl, it meant a lot to her. The funeral director’s put it next to her for me so that when I saw her in the coffin they were side-by-side.”
So, would Keith recommend Avalon to others? “Absolutely. I talk to lots of people about what happened as you can never know what’s just around the corner. If we hadn’t arranged our plans then I would have been on my own to deal with everything and navigate my way around the Spanish system, which is very different to how things are done back in the UK.
“A plan makes a very big difference to a desperately sad situation. For me, Avalon took over the whole running of the funeral, I didn’t have to do a thing and there was no worrying about anything. I personally know the service Avalon provides and I’m very pleased to recommend them. I could contact them as many times as I wanted and they were there for me at every step. I was and still am very grateful.”
We would like to thank Keith for taking the time to speak to us and for sharing his story.