‘A common decency you don’t often see’

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Avril’s mother, best friend and business partner Mrs Jean Beacom may have passed away over four years ago, but the way in which her daughter speaks about her makes me feel like I know her.

“I probably keep referring to my mum quite a bit, but she was a true inspiration.”

She says this without apology and nor does she need to. Because it is clear that it is not just her devoted daughter who held the founder of Corick House in such regard.

Reports of her death in October 2011 in the local press describe her as a “highly regarded businesswoman” and something of a pillar of the local Clogher Valley community, someone who was known for her kindness and generosity.

But few knew her better than Avril.

“Since I was 20, we worked in each other’s pockets 24/7,” she says. “It wasn’t always a bed of roses. But I will never have her drive. And she had a common decency that I don’t really see in a lot of people, she had a really big heart.”

Avril firmly places the credit for her own professional success on the shoulders of her late mother.

“What did I learn from her? Gosh, where do I start? I learnt everything I know. She taught me to work hard, put the hours in, put the effort in, always make sure that you have enough money to pay the tax man and the VAT man, make sure that they are seen to and that your staff are seen to.

“Work with your staff, remember where you have come from.

“My mum was a tough nut as far as we were concerned, and you wouldn’t have got anything handed to you, but if you needed anything, she was the first person there to give it to you.”

Last year Avril was named Ulster Tatler Businesswoman of the Year, a true career highlight.

For her, it was, she felt, a fitting tribute to her late mother, and she dedicated it to her.

“I was so humbled by the award, I was over the moon. I really was delighted,” she smiles.

Her voice lowers as she mentions her mother. “The day I lost her, I lost my best friend, my everything. My world fell apart, but it was lovely to pick that award up on behalf of her.”