Chrissie of Freeman Brothers Hurstpierpoint explains how the team recently used ice cream to support a good cause…
Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors has been operating in Sussex and Surrey for over 160 years. With branches in Billingshurst, Crawley, Horsham and Hurstpierpoint, the company serves a variety of communities. Having remained independent and family-run, the team at Freeman Brothers are keen to give back to their neighbours by actively participating in community events. Recently, Community Co-Ordinators Becky and Chrissie participated in Hurst Arts Festival, meeting members of the public. Here, Chrissie tells us more…
Our Hurstpierpoint branch has now been up and running for 7 months and what has become very apparent, is that the population of over 7,000 Hurstpierpoint residents openly support their beautiful village. This couldn’t be more evident when we joined in to lend a hand at the popular Hurst Arts Festival on an absolutely gorgeous, sunny Sunday.
We first met with Michel Olszewki, the Chair to the Trustees, in June and he was not only keen to share the history of the festival, but to welcome Freeman Brothers in supporting this worthy cause.
‘Hurst Festival was conceived in 2004 by a merry band of friends over dinner, impressed by the wealth of talent in our village,’ Michael told us. ‘It has one aim; to provide people with two weeks enjoyment in September during which we can meet each other, experience something new and feel connected to our community.’
Their website makes for a fascinating read; ‘The first Hurst Festival took place in 2004 as an afternoon of events at the Hurstpierpoint Village Centre showcasing some of the amazing artistic talent in the village. Over 500 people turned up and the founders realised that their idea had serious potential. Building on the enthusiasm and the energy generated by that one day, plans were quickly underway to create a full-length festival to take place each September.
Since those early days, Hurst Festival has grown year on year to offer more than 80 events to thousands of locals at venues all across the village of Hurstpierpoint. In this, the 15th year, their aim is to ‘rubber stamp’ all local Sussex talent and produce to show just how diverse our local community is.’
With the focus on ‘community’, it felt like an ideal opportunity to be able to do something positive for one of our local charities that we have been working with; Know Dementia, who opened their new Memory Moments café in Hurst in May. The charity is going from strength to strength and has just opened a new café in Heathfield in September. Like most charities, they rely heavily on their dedicated team of volunteers, comprising of family carers and qualified professionals, and the financial support of sponsors.
With over 800,000 people in the UK having been diagnosed with dementia, an estimated 700,000 families and friends are affected. Know Dementia support the whole person and their loved ones, not just their medical condition.
This type of support is invaluable; it creates a safe haven for people diagnosed with Dementia, which is a degenerative memory loss condition, together with their families, friends or carers, to come together to share and to receive much-needed advice and support.
Living with dementia can have a big emotional, social, psychological and practical impact on a person. Adjusting to these series of losses is challenging and their social environment is central to life, regardless of age or mental ability. Know Dementia welcome people for tea, coffee and cake, not to mention, fun and laughter with games, talks, music and dance.
With the high street closed to all traffic, to accommodate the many arts and craft and charity stalls, and the classic car run, our chance to become part of the annual festivities literally fell into our laps, in the form of ice cream and the professional services of Jack.
We arranged for the lovely Jack to come along for the day with his traditional ice cream bike, clothed in classic dress, complete with boater hat, serving authentic, Italian gelato ice cream, complete with sprinkles and an array of different sauces.
Everyone loves ice cream, it seems to be the ‘go to’ treat no matter how you are feeling. Being able to offer ‘free’ ice cream to passers-by, was simply too tempting for many to resist and we soon had a long queue forming. The response from the public when they realised that we were raising money for a local charity, Know Dementia, in lieu of a delicious ice cream, was amazing. There were so many generous people who were only too delighted to donate to such a worthy cause, with a special mention to the wonderful group of children who willingly donated their pocket money.
The atmosphere on the street and the camaraderie of others was astounding, with a local radio station making impromptu announcements over the mic to support and highlight our campaign. We had the chance to speak with lots of different people and organisations, many of whom were residents of Hurstpierpoint and who had come with their families to enjoy the celebrations. We even managed to entice a team of local fire fighters to our stand to enjoy a well-deserved five minute break!
To be able to present a cheque for £328.22 to Jo Parnaby, Café Co-Ordinator and Pauline Malloy at Know Dementia, made what was a fun-fuelled day incredibly special and rewarding for us. During Know Dementia’s monthly meeting, we had the pleasure of watching as everyone was put through their paces by Rosario, a Brighton dance teacher, who attended the session to get everyone moving. You couldn’t help but notice the brightly coloured pom-poms, ribbons and multi-coloured material waving through the air, but most importantly, see the concentrated smiles and enjoyment that everyone was having.
Know Dementia rely on these donations to pay for activities such as this, which is crucial to help stimulate and engage people living with memory loss conditions, and to help lessen anxiety and irritability.
We also had the chance to meet Bernard O’Rourke, President of Sussex Vale Rotary who have supported the Memory Moments cafes in Haywards Heath and Hurstpierpoint and leant their support from the start.
We are hoping that more local organisations can get behind this fantastic charity and raise awareness and funds to keep the much needed cafes fully functioning. Dementia does not discriminate and this unique disease can see families lose their loved ones not once, but twice; the slow psychological receding of the person they once knew, and their eventual physical death.
If you were one of the wonderful people that generously donated at the Hurst Super Sunday event, thank you, your donation has made a difference.
The team at Freeman Brothers have big plans for 2020: Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors will celebrate 165 years in business next year by supporting local organisations and groups in 165 different ways. This will be a combined effort from staff across all four of the company’s branches. If you or anyone you know would like the company to contribute to your efforts in 2020, please get in touch with the Community team. Whether you’re organising a fundraising event, trying to increase awareness, are looking to make new contacts, or have a completely different idea, the team look forward to hearing from you as they mark this significant achievement.
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