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'Workaholic' who founded E Corr Plant Hire in Bishop's Stortford dies at 82

Eugene Corr (9349977)
Eugene Corr (9349977)

An Irish immigrant who founded a multi-million-pound civil engineering company in Bishop's Stortford employing more than 120 people has died, aged 82.

Eugene Corr was one of seven children brought up in a poor farming family in rural Ireland. He left Leitrim penniless aged just 17, determined to set up his own business and make the Herts and Essex borders his new home.

A workaholic from the start, he drove lorries and toiled on a series of tough construction projects across the country before he met his wife Anne, a Northern Irish immigrant working as a nurse in the burns unit at Colchester General Hospital.

The newlyweds settled in a flat in London Road, Bishop's Stortford, in 1966. The following year, the eldest of their four children – daughter Sinead, now news editor of the Bishop's Stortford Independent – was born, followed two years later by son Brendan, who now runs the family business E Corr Plant Hire.

When the young family moved to a new home in Stansted Road, Eugene set up his civil engineering company and began working on projects at Stansted Airport and groundworks for schools, hospitals, industrial estates and shopping centres.

As the business grew, so did the family, with the arrival of younger son Sean, who now works with his brother.

When the workforce expanded in the 1970s, Eugene decided the time was right for a new base and set up a yard, workshop and offices in Michael's Road. The site is now The Aspens estate.

Anne and Eugene completed their family with the birth of daughter Aine. All the children attended St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Great Hadham Road and St Mary's Catholic School in Windhill, where Aine went on to teach art.

At the start of the 1990s, the family and the business moved for a final time, to Gaunts End at Elsenham, transforming a former animal quarantine area into a new base close to their biggest client, Stansted Airport.

Sinead said: "Dad's work was his life. We always thought he would die with his boots on, but it was not to be. After Mum died from cancer in 2012, it became apparent that Dad had dementia.

"Nevertheless he remained fiercely independent and continued to take a great interest in his businesses. With the help of his amazing carer Michelle, we were able to look after him at home until just before Christmas, when he fell and broke a bone in his back.

"He moved to Hargrave House in Stansted, where the staff were wonderful, but he never really recovered. A series of infections accelerated his dementia and he was in and out of hospital."

Eugene passed away peacefully on Thursday, April 25 in Gibberd Ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital with his family around him.

Sinead said: "Apart from his work, my dad's greatest happiness was in his family, particularly his grandchildren. He knew he was very poorly educated and really wanted them to go on to university." As well as his four children, he leaves seven grandchildren.

Sinead's son Joe, 27, followed in his grandad's footsteps in construction with a degree in project management from Westminster University. He lives in London with his teacher girlfriend Sophie. Joe's sister Enya works in publishing and lives in Bristol with her boyfriend James. The couple met at the University of York, where Enya, 25, achieved a BA and MA in history. Little brother Oliver, 22, is studying computer engineering at Nottingham Trent University.

Brendan, who also runs LPL Construction Services, lives in Dunmow with wife Rachael and daughter Bethan, 22, who has just finished a degree in graphic design at Norwich University of the Arts. Brendan's son Declan, 15, is a student at The Bishop's Stortford High School.

Sean and his wife Lesley live in Elsenham with their son Jasper, a 12-year-old pupil at Helena Romanes in Dunmow.

Aine and husband Toby Allanson live in Stansted, where Aine runs her own upholstery business. Their seven-year-old daughter Martha attends Bentfield County Primary School.

Eugene's funeral will be held on Tuesday, May 14 at 11.30am at the Catholic church of St Theresa of Lisieux in High Lane, Stansted, followed by a private family farewell at Cam Valley Crematorium in Great Chesterford.

His children have asked for donations in his name to Dementia UK through Daniel Robinson and Sons Ltd at www.drobinson.co.uk/in-memory-pages.

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