Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors has been a proud sponsor of the St Catherine’s Hospice HeART to Heart art trail this summer, with staff from across Sussex – the company has offices in Billingshurst, Crawley, Horsham and Hurstpierpoint – getting involved in a variety of ways. As the Trail came to a close last week, the team held one final event to mark the occasion. Here, Community Co-Ordinator Becky tells us more…
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over ten weeks since I kicked off our HeART to Heart Trail campaign by sharing some heart-shaped biscuits with the team and finally revealing the location and design of our sponsored heart! The summer has whizzed by in a haze of heart-hunting adventures, plus our two Hub Takeover days at County Mall in Crawley.
Seeing the reaction of my colleagues and members of the public has been brilliant. The event has had a lot of coverage in the press and via social media, so even on days when I’ve not been out and about heart-hunting myself, I’ve been able to keep up with what’s going on. Before the hearts temporarily disappeared, we wanted to bid Keepsake a fond farewell. We’re looking forward to seeing who buys this fabulous heart – and the others! – at the auction next month, and we hope they raise a significant amount of money for the hospice. The end of the Trail also felt like a great opportunity to thank the team at the hospice for their hard work this summer and leading up to it, in organising the Trail and associated activities.
Having been inspired by the return of one of the nation’s favourite TV shows, we decided to host an office Bake Off. We weren’t sure that, even with blind taste testing, anyone within our own team would be able to cope with the pressure of judging the friendly competition, so we recruited some assistance! Happily, when offered baked goods, most people are willing to help, and we’re grateful to Hannah, Suzanne, Emma and Suzanne from St Catherine’s Hospice for popping in to do the honours. This also meant that we were able to take the opportunity to thank the St Catherine’s Hospice team for their hard work in putting the Trail together and making the event a success.
We had a variety of entries to the competition – in the spirit of keeping it fun, we decided against a Technical Challenge, and instead made it an open contest. Colleagues prepared a range of bakes and submitted them for judging, with the Star Baker prize coming with first pick of the remaining goods following judging.
The entries consisted of:
- Becky’s ‘Choose your own adventure’ brownies
- Jen’s Lemon heart biscuits
- Natalie’s ‘A star is born’ cake
- Paula’s cupcakes
- Vicky’s carrot cake
- Abi’s chocolate and hazelnut biscotti
All of the bakes were carefully transported to our Crawley office, and set out ready for the eager judges! Having submitted an entry myself, I drove with extra care, for fear of any cake incidents being considered sabotage by my fellow contestants! The contestants were also pleased to hear that the judges planned on taking a kind approach, unlike certain reality TV stars…
The judges took a brilliantly scientific approach: they carefully portioned themselves out a sample-size of each bake, and then chose to consume their tasters in the same order, to accurately compare and contrast. Much delighted munching took place, and it quickly became clear that this was going to be a tough decision – apparently, the Freeman Brothers team is full of talented bakers! Each bake was thoroughly complimented, and a variety of merits were discussed. The judges commented that, although some of the styles of bake wouldn’t be their usual preference, the ones supplied in this competition were found to be exceptional. The ultimate compliment issued was that none of the bakes would be out of place in the St Catherine’s Hospice café, which is renowned for a fantastic offering (if you ever find yourself visiting, make sure you try some cake, plus money spent in the café helps to support the cause!).
Following much deliberating and contemplative chewing, the judges took a vote, and issued some ‘Highly Commended’ awards to Vicky and Abi’s bakes, but the winner was Paula’s cupcakes! Paula is based in our Horsham office – if you’ve ever been to our office on North Parade, or called us, it’s very likely you’ve met or spoken to her – so it would be a little while before she learned of her triumph, as I had some other tasks to complete!
As the judges entered a repechage, returning to enjoy more of their favourite bakes, we spent some time chatting about how the Heart Trail had gone. We were pleased to hear that they’ve regarded the campaign as a huge success, and that their busy summer has been worthwhile. It was also great to learn that our support via social media and volunteering in-person has been appreciated too. From the early stages of becoming a sponsor, I worked on generating ideas to help maintain momentum throughout the summer, and helped the Hospice team with generating ideas for ways to ensure members of the public were inspired to interact with the Trail.
I’ve found it fun to challenge my creativity: in addition to arranging for some of my colleagues to visit our heart in Tilgate Park, I tasked myself with figuring out how to involve animals with Keepsake. Many members of the public enjoyed taking their dogs heart-hunting, but unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed in the Walled Garden, where Keepsake was situated. Fortunately, the rules don’t apply to toys! So thanks to a bit of lateral thinking, I was able to take a cuddly toy dog on an ‘adventure’ to visit Keepsake during the closing days of the Trail.
Having completed my photo op and trip with Ron (the cuddly toy dog), I carefully returned to the Horsham office. I arrived with less cake than I had departed with and, following a drumroll, duly crowned Paula the winner. Everyone was a winner really, though, as my return was celebrated by shared consumption of cake! I suspect a few recipes have been swapped too.
As summer rolls into autumn, our campaigns at Freeman Brothers continue. Following the conclusion of HeART to Heart next month – with the Secret HeART exhibition and the heart auction – we celebrate Holly Lodge’s tenth anniversary in November. We’re planning an event which supports another organisation – Giving Back Crawley – and are still accepting donations of tinned food on their behalf, having collected tins throughout the summer. There’s also an event planned in December by our Hurstpierpoint branch, but I’ll save the details for Chrissie to announce very soon.
Finally, the build up to 2020 has already begun too. It’s an important year for us – the company will celebrate its 165th anniversary, a huge milestone which we’re keen to mark in a variety of ways. This means even more charity and community events than ever before, so if our work with HeART to Heart has inspired you to think that we would be able to support another cause you know of, please get in touch and let me know. There’s plenty of room in the calendar, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can come up with.