Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors has launched a new initiative – read on to find out more…
Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors has been based in Horsham, West Sussex since 1855. The company remains independent and family-run, currently owned and operated by the fifth generation of the Freeman family to look after the business. There are now a further three offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – across the county, with the organisation employing almost 30 people from the surrounding areas.
With the company celebrating 165 years in business in 2020, the team decided to take on a challenge: could they carry out 165 acts in support of the community and local charities throughout the year? The team have already worked together to come up with as many creative ideas as possible in order to complete their ‘165 for 165’ and Funeral Support Assistant, Jen Bolt, has had several!
Here, Jen introduces the company’s latest initiative – an honesty book exchange in order to support enthusiasm for reading and raise funds for charity – which was launched in the Crawley branch on World Book Day…
What sort of a reader are you?
Are you a regular face at your local library, devouring books like they’re going out of fashion? Perhaps you enjoy a good novel, by a favourite author, on high days and holidays? Or maybe the back of a shampoo bottle is the closest you get to good literature? Whatever your style, it’s undeniable that reading plays a crucial role in our ability to understand and successfully navigate the world around us. In some cases, this is obvious – like the manual for a new washing machine, or the note you write to a friend explaining how to feed the dog while you’re away – but what about fiction? Can the knowledge we gain from stories be just as helpful?
The poet, A. E. Housman, once wrote: ‘All human knowledge is precious, whether or not it serves the slightest human use.’ A Classicist and Professor of Latin, Housman was something of an expert in the unseen value of seemingly ‘useless’ knowledge. He knew that knowledge itself was not as important as the ability to learn and process information, so he certainly knew a thing or two about the value of reading literature and its power to inspire, educate and entertain.
Funeral Directors, like great writers, spend their working lives immersed in the highs and lows of human experience – grief, trauma, relief and contentment – but are thankfully spared the added strain of finding the words to express and commit those feelings to the page, instead relying on professional novelists and poets to provide comfort in the darkest hours. Perhaps that’s why so many grieving families turn to the words of a favourite poem or reading when marking the death of a loved-one?
But the benefit doesn’t end there. Writers know that the more knowledge and experience we expose ourselves to through poetry and storytelling, the better prepared we are for the twists and turns of life, the more likely we are to react positively and pro-actively to change and (perhaps most crucially!) the more sympathy and understanding we can show to others. Reading can benefit us in so many more ways than we think.
In my former life as an English teacher, I was often asked (admittedly, more often by parents than pupils!) what else could be done at home to help improve exam results. My answer was typically a single word: ‘Read.’ The usual follow-up question – ‘Read what?’ – had an equally simple response: ‘Anything.’ Very helpful, I know, but I stand by it. As children’s author, Dr Seuss, put it: ‘The more that you read, the more that you know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’
It’s hard to know what those parents were expecting. Did they want me to espouse the ‘classics’? Prescribe a heavy tome or two? Provide a convenient excuse to turn off the telly? (No – I think I speak for teachers everywhere when I say we’d all have happily let the dust jacket do its work in favour of the latest ‘Bake Off’ instalment.) Nevertheless, I still firmly believe that the best way to learn, to develop and to generally be a happier and more fulfilled human being is to read. And it’s this belief that has fueled our latest initiative at Freeman Brothers, Crawley.
As part of our on-going commitment to performing 165 charitable acts to celebrate having been established for 165 years, Crawley branch is helping to promote literacy and reignite a passion for books by holding a pre-loved book sale in collaboration with The Reading Agency charity.
The sale, which will be on-going for the whole of 2020, aims to encourage as many people as possible to fall back in love with reading by making interesting and exciting literature available for a very reasonable price! Just pop into the branch and browse through the tantalising titles – any one of them can be yours for a minimum suggested donation of 50p for a paperback or £1 for a hardback. We only offer books that are in good condition so – who knows – you may find a gift for a loved one or friend, and get the satisfaction of helping a worthy cause into the bargain!
The Reading Agency – our chosen beneficiary for this particular initiative – is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. Funded by Arts Council England and working with partners across the UK such as prisons, schools and libraries, The Reading Agency impacts 1.4 million people every year, of all ages and backgrounds so, by purchasing a book from us in-branch, you are helping us to help others. Not only that, but every book sold will also be accompanied by a free, limited-edition, commemorative bookmark. What’s not to love?
As well as book-buyers, we’re also welcoming book-donors who’d like to contribute to our stock. We accept books for all age groups and of many genres, which have minimal damage or soiling and are in saleable condition. So, if you’re planning a spring clean, just drop your unwanted books into our branch on Brighton Road and we’ll do the rest. We’re waiting to welcome you!
The scheme is currently in operation in Freeman Brothers Crawley, with plans to roll out across other branches throughout the year. Let us know if you’ve been to visit, by tagging @FBCrawley and #165for165 on Twitter.
If you know of any charities, community groups, or other organisations which could benefit from the company’s support as part of the ‘165 for 165’ campaign, please get in touch – we look forward to hearing from you!
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