A recent local charity event provided a great opportunity for the Freeman Brothers Hurstpierpoint team to engage with their local community – read on to find out more
Having added our fourth office this year, in Hurstpierpoint, to our existing offices in Billingshurst, Crawley and Horsham, Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors is keen to support those within the extended community that we are now part of. Our network now spreads across West Sussex, and incorporates an increasingly diverse range of groups, which is an opportunity to explore a variety of interests and enjoy meeting people from all walks of life.
Thanks to our branch teams being engaged members of their local communities, we were already aware of a range of organisations that we might like to support, and one which quickly came up was the St Peter and St James Hospice in North Chailey. Having met with the hospice in early 2019 – and sampled some of the delicious cake prepared by their chef! – we learned that a key event in aid of the hospice happening in the heart of Hurstpierpoint village is an Open Gardens, organised entirely by volunteers.
Hurstpierpoint Open Gardens takes place in June, and was first arranged by the existing team in 2014. It has since been a phenomenal success! During the years it has been running, the event has raised between £5,000 and over £7,000 each year, which is an incredible amount from simply one afternoon of activity. The team at Freeman Brothers were keen to help, and got in touch with Bec Hanley, who leads the Open Gardens team, in order to find out how we could be of assistance.
Bec explained that the event had taken a break in 2018: organising the event is time-consuming, and with jobs and families to manage, it isn’t possible for the team to run an event each year. They also like to offer visitors a variety of gardens, but there are a limited supply of these, and gardeners require a break too! With everyone refreshed and raring to go, plans for 2019 have been in full swing for several months, and a fantastic trail had been put together, comprised of eight local gardens.
The trail is curated carefully in order to ensure maximum accessibility – several of the gardens involved are in central Hurstpierpoint, and some are a little further outside of the village, which is where the team were looking for some assistance! The services of a minibus are usually procured in order to help those who have limited mobility, or don’t have access to their own vehicle, but this was something that the team had been struggling with for 2019. Here, Freeman Brothers stepped in, and volunteered the services of one of our fleet of Jaguar limousines plus a driver for the day. The team were delighted by our offer, but this wasn’t the only support we raised for the event.
Community Co-Ordinator Becky’s extensive experience within the events industry has taught her that the smallest elements of event organisation can be as challenging as the largest part, so Freeman Brothers offered to help with some finishing touches too. In addition to printing the maps which are a critical part of the Open Gardens trail, via our longstanding Community Printing programme, the Freeman Brothers team arranged some giveaways – cotton bags were donated in order for the Open Gardens team to provide each garden host with an information pack, and specially-produced packs of forget-me-not seeds were given to the team for use on the plant stalls.
Funeral director Russell volunteered his services as limousine driver, and Becky was on-hand throughout the day as a volunteer at Norfolk House – home to the all-important raffle! The Open Gardens team mentioned early on that the raffle was a particular challenge, as by the time it is drawn at the end of the day, many visitors are no longer nearby in order to collect their prize. Again, Freeman Brothers stepped in and offered some assistance – raffle prizes which were unclaimed when the draw took place will be transported to the Freeman Brothers Hurstpierpoint office, and made available for collection during business hours.
With plans in place and an extensive collaboration organised, the team from Freeman Brothers were excited to be participating in this important local event. In addition to the horticultural variety throughout the gardens, the team work hard to ensure that there are other different and enticing activities throughout the trail. Each garden offers its own hospitality in terms of refreshments, plus there is the raffle and a variety of local produce on offer – from ice cream and plants for sale, to local honey and information on hedgehog conservation, there was something to interest everyone.
Whilst Russell was kept busy in the limousine, ferrying eager visitors between gardens, Becky was stationed at Norfolk House in order to sell as many raffle tickets as possible. Having had some mildly worrying moments throughout the week prior to the event, fortunately it proved to be a gloriously sunny afternoon, and this helped to encourage visitor numbers. The gardens were busy throughout the event, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that this has proven to be another successful year in terms of fundraising for the hospice.
As a new business to Hurstpierpoint, this event was a brilliant chance for us to meet more people, and demonstrate the ways in which we’re happy to support local organisations. Helping those around us is something the team is passionate about, something that Becky explains further.
‘When I joined the company in October 2017, I was thrilled to be part of a business which has a long history, and remains independent and family-run. This is rare these days, as many companies have been sold on to larger groups. Freeman Brothers being a family business gives it a very distinct feel – as an employee, I do feel very cared for and that my skills and experience are recognised highly.
‘It’s also great to be part of something which is so well-known within the community: in the areas where we have been operating for many years already, I often find that people recognise the company name immediately when I introduce myself, and the reaction I get is always positive. For a service which many people are often sad to find themselves in need of, this is a remarkable feat, as it shows that we do help to make what can be a tough time that little bit easier.
‘From my very first day at the company, I have worked with the idea that we support other small, local organisations – ones which perhaps don’t have the human resources and budget to be able to break through the noise of that larger groups are able to make, in order to help spread the word. The St Peter and St James Hospice does fantastic work with a much smaller team than some hospices are privileged to have, and this makes their volunteer support all the more critical. It’s an honour to be welcomed by the Open Gardens team, and this was a particularly fun event to be part of – I hope we can continue this relationship and help in future.’
If you are interested in finding out more about how Freeman Brothers may help your organisation, please contact our Community team – they are always open to new ideas, so if you have something in mind which has not already been mentioned, please let us know!
Tel: 01403 254590
If you have an urgent query, please call 01403 254590. This number is answered by one our staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the quickest way to reach us.
Tel: 01403 785133
25 & 27 Brighton Road
Tel: 01293 540000
126 High Street
Tel: 01273 831497