Hunnaball at 40 – A company history (part 1)

We’re tremendously proud in 2023 to celebrate 40 years of the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group and one of the ways we want to mark this special event is by sharing our story. This is part 1:

However, our story should begin with words from our Chairman and founder, Trevor Hunnaball, which beautifully summarise the very soul of the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group. “We are a family business dedicated to upholding the traditional values of respect and dignity, and our simple ethos is to provide funeral services with humanity, compassion and the greatest of care.”

Our entire business is established on these principles, and our work and culture are the same now as they were 40 years ago. In fact, they are they have been the same throughout Trevor’s professional life in the funeral industry which began more than 65 years ago.

Our Company History

The Hunnaball Family Funeral Group started in 1983, when Trevor and Melanie Hunnaball purchased Geo. Paskell Funeral Service of Wix. By that time, Trevor had already worked in the industry for 25 years, much of it serving as Managing Director of WH Shephard in Colchester, and his depth of knowledge and expertise have been invaluable to the company ever since. Trevor and Melanie were already running a number of successful businesses, including a successful limousine and car hire business, Hunnaball Car Hire, which from 1979 had supplied the Mayoral car for the Borough of Colchester, a flower shop in Manningtree, and a wedding shop in Colchester.

Geo Paskell Funeral Services of Wix (c.1983)
Geo Paskell Funeral Services of Wix (c.1983)

In 1985, they opened Trevor Hunnaball Funeral Services on Hythe Hill, and the journey had truly begun. In 1987, the Hythe Hill branch relocated to York House, on Mersea Road, now known as Hunnaball of Colchester. In the same year, a second Colchester branch was opened on Crouch Street, with Melanie’s Floristry next door. Colchester Funeral Service opened in Stanwell Street and the company was then renamed as Hunnaball Funeral Services, although the traditional Paskell name was retained in Manningtree.

In 1988, JK May Funeral Services of West Mersea was acquired, and John May continued to work in the business. JK May of West Mersea continues to thrive and serve the community on Mersea Island.


Saul joined the business in 1986 followed by Chris in 1991 then Polly in 1993. Their three spouses, Jennie, Zena and Joe became involved soon afterwards, and in 2023 Saul and Jennie’s daughter Emilia joined the family business, so that today the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group is served by three generations of the family.

The Hunnaball Family (c. 2010)
The Hunnaball Family (c. 2010)

The Hunnaball Family Funeral Group, as it is now known, really is a family business, and it quickly built a reputation for excellent service in every part of their work. Families returned time and again when they needed our help, because they found that our professionalism went hand in hand with real compassion. Our business continues to exemplify the same culture of professionalism and compassion in all of our branches throughout Essex and Suffolk.


Our family group are proud members of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), the leading association in the UK which represents the funeral profession. In 1995, Trevor became President of the NAFD, the highest accolade in the funeral industry, and continued to serve the association in many roles, both locally and nationally, to promote best practice across the industry in the UK.

Trevor and Melanie during his year as NAFD President (1995)
Trevor and Melanie during his year as NAFD President (1995)

Into Suffolk

In 1996, Hunnaball of Ipswich opened its doors, with Melanie at the helm. She had already qualified as one of the first female funeral directors in the country, and she championed the ‘Ladies in Hats’ brand, which continues to be so important across the business. Compassion, elegance, and style were embodied in our lady funeral directors and the Hunnaball family was at the vanguard of change in the funeral industry. When Hunnaball Funeral Services began, the majority of public-facing employees across the industry were men; now most are women, and we’re incredibly proud to have played a part in making that change.


In 1997, at the very beginning of the green burial movement, Trevor Hunnaball began his involvement with Oakfield Wood, near Manningtree, which was the first ‘green’ burial ground in Essex. The Hunnaball family continues to champion and support new ideas within the funeral industry, provided they serve the people we serve, not only in the area of green burials, but in relation to funeral transport too.

Hunnaball at 40 – Part 2 to follow…