A FUNERAL director from Salisbury who was awarded an MBE for services to the profession has died, aged 96.

Mary Phyllis Case was one of the first female funeral directors in England when she qualified in the 1960s and led the way for other women in the profession.

Before joining the family business, Will Case Funeral Directors, set up by her father, she spent 20 years as a nurse and health visitor for the World Health Organisation in India and Africa. To complete one of her tours of duty, she drove alone in her Volkswagen Beetle from the then Salisbury, Rhodesia back home.

For more than 40 years she worked in and strengthened the firm, and with her business partner, Sheila Dicks, founded the Salisbury College of Funeral Sciences, which has now achieved a worldwide reputation for training in the industry.

In 1986/7 Miss Case was national president of the British Institute of Funeral Directors and she also served on the national board of governors and the disciplinary committee, and had a long involvement with the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Throughout her career, Miss Case suffered with the muscular illness Myasthenia Gravis, but did not let it daunt her efforts to be at the forefront of the profession.

A life-long fan of Salisbury City, she rarely missed home or away matches, even going at the age of 95 to the away match for the third round FA Cup between Salisbury and Sheffield United at Bramall Lane .

Her colleagues at Will Case & Partners Funeral Directors said: “Meeting her in earlier years she could be viewed as a very daunting person, but her kindness and care for those she worked with or cared for was always unstinting, and her sense of justice and fairness would see her stand firm against any adversary.

“She was a person of very strong moral courage and held the belief that we only have one chance to get a funeral service right for a family and that whatever a person’s station or lot in life they deserve to be treated with care, respect and dignity.”

Miss Case died at her home last Wednesday and her funeral will be on May 17 at 2.30pm at St Thomas’s Church in Salisbury.

Donations, in lieu of flowers, are for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, a fund that Miss Case supported.