As the St Catherine‘s Hospice HeART to Heart Trail draws to a close, Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors’ Community Co-Ordinator Becky looks forward to what’s next…
Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors has been serving communities across Sussex since 1855. The business has made a commitment to support the areas surrounding its offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley, Horsham and Hurstpierpoint – and does so by participating in a wide range of activities. With the Crawley branch approaching its tenth anniversary, the team were particularly keen to make a significant contribution to the local area during 2019. One of the ways in which they have done this is to sponsor the St Catherine’s Hospice HeART to Heart Trail, which will soon draw to a close.
Community Co-Ordinator Becky provides the latest update, and reveals what will happen next…
Whilst I’ve been busy in the office getting ready for the next season of events and promotional activities, plus supporting my colleagues who arrange funerals, it’s been great to watch updates come in about the HeART to Heart Trail. With the school summer holidays in full swing, members of the public have been out and about heart hunting. Thanks to social media, I haven’t felt left out, and it’s been lovely to look through the photos people post.
It’s clear that people are having a great time visiting these unique pieces of art, and I feel particularly excited when a photo of Keepsake pops up. I’m really pleased to see that other people enjoy our sponsored heart as much as we do, and have been making the most of the sunny weather (when it’s lasted!). Seeing people visit the piece of art which captured our hearts here at Freeman Brothers has been a pleasure. I’ve heard lots of stories of children rushing up to Keepsake excitedly!
One of the best days for us was visiting Keepsake with a team who had just finished a funeral service. Parking the (empty) hearse at Tilgate Park drew the attention of a few people – not necessarily the kind of vehicle people expect to see at the park! We made our way to the Walled Garden together so that my colleagues could see our heart for themselves. It was a beautiful day, and with a bit of time on our hands, we made the most of the café’s offering, taking the opportunity to enjoy some ice creams before returning to work.
In addition to the social media interaction, the HeART to Heart Trail has received lots of publicity in local media. I wasn’t aware that Keepsake was going to be featured so prominently on the cover of the Crawley Observer when the Trail began, so it was a lovely surprise to see the heart there on the front page when I arrived at the office! In addition to covering our Hub Takeover days ourselves, my blog posts on these have featured on the Trail’s website, and some comments and a picture also featured in the Crawley Observer. Members of the public have commented positively on our decision to be involved with such an important event, and I’m pleased to say that they’ve also picked up on our reasons for choosing the Keepsake design. For us, this particular heart continues to represent treasured memories of loved ones, as well as an item that we keep close in order to cherish these.
There’s been plenty to get involved with, even when the weather hasn’t been pleasant. In addition to several of the hearts being housed indoors (a particular favourite here has been ‘Fluttering Free’, which may or may not be due to it being located in the café at a local garden centre…), St Catherine’s Hospice organised a range of HeART to Heart merchandise. There were plenty of items that we’d always expect to see – such as keyrings and mugs – but also a heart-shaped stress ball, and a special edition colouring book.
Colouring is one of my favourite relaxation activities, and I’ve got more books than one person potentially needs, but was still keen to add the HeART to Heart one to my collection! I’ve actually left it at work, where I have a small stash of colouring pencils. I decided it’d be great to have on my desk for those times when I need a quiet moment, or if there’s a rainy lunchtime and I don’t feel like going outside. As you can see from the photos here, I’ve already made use of it!
As we prepare to say a temporary goodbye to Keepsake when the Trail ends in a couple of weeks, we’re getting ready for the next stage of the event. Some of my colleagues have already purchased tickets to the Secret HeART exhibition, which takes place at the end of October. Some of us have contributed pieces to the upcoming exhibition – will you be able to spot which postcards we have designed?!
Following this, there is of course the auction for the hearts which have formed the Trail. This is a great opportunity for members of the public to buy a unique piece of art, and I’ve got a feeling that Keepsake may prove highly attractive on the night! In addition to this, the auction represents a further opportunity for the hospice to raise funds. I’ll be at both the Secret HeART exhibition and the auction – I’ve actually never been to an auction before so I’m excited to experience the atmosphere and see how much will be raised, plus where the hearts end up being housed!
Throughout the duration of the Trail, we’ve been encouraging participants to bring tins of food to us, as part of a drive for donations in aid of Giving Back Crawley. In return for tins, we are handing out free goodie bags, and I’m pleased to say that some generous heart-hunters have popped in to our Crawley branch in order to make donations. The Freeman Brothers team will be contributing some bonus tins too. For anyone who still wishes to donate, we’re happy to continue collecting through the autumn, and handing out goodie bags of course! Our office is open from 8am until 5pm, Monday to Friday, with free parking available outside the branch for visitors, so it’s easy to stop in and get involved.
Our relationship with St Catherine’s will continue beyond the completion of the Heart Trail. I’m very much looking forward to seeing their new premises, once completed in a few years’ time, and am also keen to see how they follow the success of this summer. I don’t envy the events and fundraising team their task!
With this event ending, I’ll have time to focus on what’s next: autumn sees the return – for the last time, as this will be the grand final – of Sussex Comedian of the Year, the event we’ve sponsored as part of Horsham District’s Year of Culture. I’m really looking forward to this, as it’ll be great to see how the acts have progressed since the heats, and which wild cards will be chosen for the final. We’re also busy planning an event to mark the tenth anniversary of our Crawley branch, which takes place in November. There’s also a special event happening via our Hurstpierpoint branch in December – more details of that will be announced here soon. What I can say at the moment is that this event marks the beginning of a significant occasion for us – Freeman Brothers celebrates 165 years in business in 2020, a fantastic achievement which we’ll be marking throughout the year. I’d better get ready…
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