Having supported the Heart to HeART campaign by St Catherine‘s Hospice throughout our Crawley branch’s tenth anniversary year, the event concluded last week with a fundraising auction. Read more about it here…
Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors was first established in Horsham, West Sussex in 1855. Now, with branches also in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint, the company has been proud to serve communities across Sussex and Surrey for over 160 years. In addition to the regular provision of funeral services, the company supports the local community in a variety of ways, from supplying raffle prizes and printed materials, to giving talks on the funeral industry and running events in order to encourage members of the public to discuss their funeral wishes. Throughout 2019, Freeman Brothers has sponsored the St Catherine’s Hospice Heart to HeART campaign, which culminated last week with a live auction. Community Co-Ordinator, Becky, attended the event, and tells us all about it here.
Supporting the Heart to HeART campaign has been brilliant from beginning to end. For us, the start was early in 2019, when we signed on as a sponsor of one of the Heart Trail’s pieces of art. We were able to choose a design from a catalogue of many beautiful potential creations submitted by local artists, and Keepsake was quickly our winner.
The design, by artist Lindsay Seahorse Wright, is based on a heart-shaped padlock, incorporating a lock and key, as well as coloured gemstones. For us, this fit in a couple of ways: much of the work that we do involves helping people to remember their loved ones and celebrate their lives; in addition, the reason we were particularly keen to support the hospice this year is because our Crawley branch has been open for ten years this month – tenth anniversaries are traditionally symbolised by tin gifts, so a design with a metallic influence was perfect. We were pleased when Lindsay was happy to tweak her design to match our brand further – on her first design, some of the gemstones were red, and whilst this was lovely, we use blue to represent our Crawley branch, and thus Keepsake was transformed to match.
Having decided on our heart, we were also able to choose where it would be located. There were several great options, and we settled on the Walled Garden at Tilgate Park, as we wanted as many people as possible to be able to enjoy seeing Keepsake.
With a large focus of my role being on public engagement, I had a lot of ideas for how to ensure that we helped the Heart Trail to capture the public’s attention. When the Trail launched at the beginning of July, I spent some time taking photos of Keepsake in situ for the first time – I’d been very lucky to be invited to see the finished piece when it was briefly at the hospice prior to going ‘into hiding’ for a few days. It was a glorious day, and our heart shone in the sunshine among some beautiful roses.
As pictures appeared throughout the ten week trail on social media, it was gratifying to see people enjoying the heart as much as I have. Children seemed particularly taken with the design, often making the most of the tactile nature of the sculpted surface. Just as the trail was drawing to a close, it was also lovely to hear that a group of service users of local charity Kangaroos had been able to pay a visit – the staff and volunteers who helped to make this happen did a great job. One thing I’d been sad about was that dogs weren’t able to visit Keepsake as they aren’t allowed in the Walled Garden. However, this just became a test of my creativity, and with some support from an old friend at home, I was able to change this: I took a small toy dog on an ‘adventure’ to visit Keepsake. My main challenge was that it was a little breezy on the day in question – I didn’t think it’d be so difficult to pose an inanimate object with another inanimate object!
Having regularly visited our piece of art throughout the summer, it was strange when the hearts disappeared at the end of the trail – a bit like when the decorations are taken down after Christmas. Fortunately, I had a few other projects to keep me busy at work whilst I waited for the end of October to roll around. During the period between the end of the trail and the exhibition and auction, the pieces of artwork spent time with their artists being spruced up – ten weeks outside in the wild took its toll somewhat, but happily, the only ‘damage’ done to Keepsake was that it had apparently been offered and enjoyed some ice cream from the nearby café whilst on display…
Sponsors were invited to view the Farewell Exhibition prior to it opening to members of the public, and it was a pleasure to attend this event at the Copthorne Hotel in Effingham Park. The exhibition was a unique opportunity to see all 26 of the hearts from the trail in one place, and I had a lovely evening wandering around to explore the works, some of which I hadn’t managed to see during the summer. I also got to clamber up on the platform Keepsake was stood on – ice cream stain now gone – in order to pose for a photo. My family attended the exhibition once it opened to the public, and they too were in awe of the works.
The auction took place the following week, at Motorline Volkswagen in Manor Royal. This was the first time I’d attended a live art auction, and I’d been excited about enjoying the buzzing atmosphere, as well as hoping that the works raised further critical funds for the hospice. The evening exceeded my expectations, and it was a real thrill to wait whilst bids flew around in order to determine the final homes of these artworks.
Several hearts proved popular, as we had anticipated, and I was particularly pleased to see that Keepsake generated a lot of admiration. Our sponsored heart was purchased by local businessman Matt Turner, who intends to display Keepsake in his garden at home.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the St Catherine’s Hospice team, not only for the wonderful work that they do on a daily basis – they care for those in our community who need support, as well as looking after their loved ones; the team are also responsible for raising funds in order to ensure that they can continue the work that they do. This project was two years in the making, and has succeeded in the aim of engaging members of the public with hospice care, as well as raising money to support their work. The fundraising team were supportive of Freeman Brothers as a sponsor, offering us many opportunities to engage with the campaign on a wider level, and it was rewarding to see their hard work pay off.
As the hospice works towards relocating during the next few years, in order to make its home in a new facility, we look forward to continuing to support the work that they do, and being part of whatever innovative way they next create in order to capture the hearts and minds of the community.
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