Caring values provide growth for family firm

Burys Solicitors, from left to right, Melissa Cooper, Joanne Bury and Charlotte Huxley.
Burys Solicitors, from left to right, Melissa Cooper, Joanne Bury and Charlotte Huxley.
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A Ribble Valley law firm has announced strong growth which it attributes to its caring approach.

The turnover at Balderstone law firm, Burys Solicitors, is up 33 percent year-on-year for the last four years and, drawing on its team’s personal experience of family loss to provide a sympathetic service to bereaved people across the region, the firm attributes increasing demand to its sensitive approach and specialist expertise.

The firm was set up four years ago by Joanne Bury, whilst caring for her mother, Shirley, who suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s from the age of 55, and who later sadly passed away in 2015 following a 12-month battle with lung cancer.

Whilst her mother was hospitalised, Joanne also had to deal with her father’s serious illness, which required him to stay in intensive care.

After going through these difficult times, Joanne fully understands the stress of arranging paperwork when coping with the illness and loss of loved ones.

As a result, Burys Solicitors strives to make legal arrangements as easy possible for people experiencing these issues and offers a niche service to fit in with clients’ busy schedules, including visits in the privacy and comfort of their homes at no additional cost.

Each year, Joanne holds a music festival called Shirlstock in honour of her beloved mother, Shirley Bury, who was widely known and loved in the local community, after working in Barclays for more than 40 years.

The popular event raises money for Blackburn with Darwen Carers Service, of which Joanne is a trustee, and will take place on July 14th.

Joanne specialises in wills, probate, powers of attorney and care home fees and lectures students at degree level at University Centre at Blackburn College.

Associate solicitor, Charlotte Huxley, excels in wills and court of protection work and shares the same passion for providing a sensitive and professional service. Consultant solicitor, Chris Raven, brings 43 years’ experience to the team and newest recruit, paralegal, Melissa Cooper, was talent spotted whilst under Joanne’s tutelage at university.

Company director and solicitor, Joanne said: “All members of the team have been affected first-hand by the loss of loved ones to dementia, Alzheimer’s and cancer. We’re ordinary people affected by the same traumas as our clients, we just happen to have qualifications that can help to make their lives a little easier.

“We are happy to do anything we can do to educate the local community and to benefit carers of those who are suffering from dementia, old age or terminal illnesses. From attending coffee mornings or educational conferences or seminars, we have been on panels for experts for other professionals, charities and social groups/clubs all over Lancashire.

“I am newly on the board of Trustees for Blackburn with Darwen Carers Service and as stated, I have been a lecturer on the law degree and other professional qualifications at the University Centre at Blackburn College for eight years. I am very much here for my community, as my amazing late mum was.”

Joanne’s story.

“I was 16 years old when my maternal grandmother came to live with my parents and myself and my 19-year-old brother in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease, which was getting worse. Soon enough she didn’t recognise us and we slowly watched her personality slip away. I helped as much as I could to assist my mum, who was working full time and caring for her. What struck me was the paperwork for Powers of Attorney and the probate for my late grandfather that dumbfounded her and caused her much stress. She didn’t have time to take from work to visit a solicitor’s office to do paperwork with someone not empathetic and it was too stressful for her. She felt that she should have been concentrating on looking after my gran.

“I decided to change from a history degree to a law degree and study close to home so I could stay and help as my mum, who was my best friend too. I vowed that when I was able to, I would open my own firm in which I would be the solicitor that was qualified but there to help clients like my mum and my gran and I would visit them at home to take the stress out of necessary and complicated legal documents and be able to advise them for their families. This was a 13 year plan!

“After training and qualifying, I started to teach at the local university on the law degree whilst I set up my own law firm. In that time, my own beloved mother, Shirley Bury, who was widely known and loved in the local community from working in Barclays for over 40 years; started to suffer from the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease herself at around 55 years old. I went through years of appointments with every medical professional there was trying to get her a formal diagnosis.

“My husband and children bought an old farmhouse to renovate with an annexe on to house her and my father so that I could help with caring for her and take the pressure away from my dad. Unfortunately, within the first three weeks of them moving in with me, Shirley was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and had less than a year to live. The cancer was now making the Alzheimer’s worse with the tumours spreading to her brain and spine. During the time she was hospitalised I worked on the business from the side of her hospital room determined not to leave her alone and confused. I had to use the Power of Attorney for her when I had to consent to an operation for her as she no longer had capacity due to the cancer and heavy chemo, and my dad could not cope. It was heart breaking for me when my mum and best friend looked at me so confused when I called her mum.

“Unfortunately one night my dad collapsed with a blocked bowel that was about to rupture and was taken on his hospital bed to say goodbye to my mum as he had a very low survival rate going into emergency surgery. He thankfully and luckily survived and was in intensive care when my mum was moved to a hospice for her final days and it crushed me that I was so helpless and now I couldn’t even take her home to die because my dad was in ICU.

“She died with me by her side and the funeral was postponed so that my dad could have special dispensation from the hospital to attend the funeral of the love of his life. A funeral in which only brightly coloured outfits were allowed, was beautiful and in keeping with her vibrant personality.

“Doing the specialised job I do, it was even more difficult for me to see ‘the late Shirley Bury’ on paperwork that I had been lucky enough to have in hand. I do what I do because I know that families like mine should be able to grieve and care for their relatives without the added stress of paperwork and each of my clients need and deserve that assistance at home, with someone empathetic and caring to look after their interests, so a home visit service as standard is perfect, especially for busy or vulnerable clients.

“I know all too much how they feel and I don’t want to see anyone struggle. Even if it is advice on the phone that will help, that’s all that matters. A human being to listen. I have had to live and breathe every single document we produce - that’s the difference.

“I have been lucky enough in my company to be able to surround myself with ‘family colleagues’ in Charlotte, Chris and most recently Melissa. I trained with Chris and he was instrumental in me becoming a solicitor and his wealth of knowledge and experience of being 43 years’ qualified makes him the backbone of our firm. Charlotte and I have known each other for years, having attended university together for the postgraduate qualifications and being qualified for the same amount of time, as well as working in the same area of law.

"It made so much sense for us to come together, with her own family background facing similar issues as my own, to be able to look after each in business as well as friendship, supporting each other as working mums. When you meet us together, you will also realise that we are carbon copies of each other too. Melissa was a former student of mine and when I saw her potential and empathy from Alzheimer’s in her own family, I knew she was perfect for us and it is wonderful to ‘home grow’ our own ‘family’."