Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors has been an integral part of the Horsham community since 1855. With offices now in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint too, 2019 is an important year for the Crawley branch in particular, as this November is the tenth anniversary of the office’s opening. The team wanted to mark this special occasion with a series of events designed to give back to the local community. One of the events the company has chosen to support is the St Catherine’s Hospice HeART to Heart Trail, which launched two weeks ago.
With the company’s participation being announced earlier in the year, but the finer details having to be kept under wraps in order to ensure a surprise for members of the public, the team were excited to finally be able to share their enthusiasm for this event. Community Co-Ordinator Becky blogs here on how the first week of the trail being live unfolded…
After months of waiting, and weeks of planning regarding how we’d like to participate once the Heart Trail went live, I fell asleep the night the hearts were being installed feeling as though I was experiencing a Christmas in July. My own Event Manager heart was also with the team who were busy all night ensuring the hearts were in position – I know they’ll have had a long and hard night of work, which I think quickly paid off.
My minor guilt at knowing that someone else was doing all of the hard work was eased by the fact that we’ve had a glorious run of weather – there’s not a lot worse than an outdoor event build in the pouring rain that we come to expect from living in the UK! The setup took place on a dry night, and the conditions continued throughout not only the first day, but the first week of the trail.
I had to keep myself busy until at least 10am on 4 July – launch day – as our heart, Keepsake, is in the Walled Garden at Tilgate Park, which is only open between 10am and 6pm daily. Whereas many hearts are out in the open in public spaces, like ours, some of the others – such as the ones in Swan Walk in Horsham, and County Mall in Crawley – can only be visited during certain hours. Fortunately, I had plenty to keep me busy at the office, and I needed to make an announcement to the rest of my colleagues.
Due to the confidential nature of the location and design of Keepsake, I kept the details quiet at work, only letting a few people in on the specifics. At our daily morning meeting, I arranged to speak for a few minutes in order to bring everyone up to date. It was also an opportunity to raise some extra funds for the hospice: I decided that all meetings are improved when biscuits are available, so I’d baked some special heart-shaped biscuits at home. Having been inspired by artist Lindsay’s Keepsake design, I iced and decorated the biscuits in a similar style – my skill level is far lower than hers, sadly, but they did taste good!
Whilst I ran everyone through the process of getting involved with the Trail, they dutifully popped some change in our donation box and munched on the biscuits. It was brilliant to be able to share the details, letting them know where they could find our heart and the others on the trail, as well as sharing the pictures I had of the sculpture. What was particularly nice to see was the rest of the team sharing my excitement – they all thought it was a great project to be involved with; we’re a close team and all live locally, so it’s something which is a fantastic activity to have available during the summer. With my colleagues now looking forward to taking their friends and families heart-hunting, it was time to go and see Keepsake in her new home.
As I approached the car park in Tilgate Park, from the entrance by K2 leisure centre, I glimpsed another heart on the horizon – there are three at the park – and quickly went to ‘collect’ The Pumpkin before going in search of Keepsake. I’d already downloaded the Heart Trail app to my phone, and found it easy to navigate and use. The ‘Rewards’ section offers some great little challenges, breaking the Trail down by geographical areas, plus some challenges which are related to timing, all of which increase engagement for users.
I enjoyed the walk to the Walled Garden – although it’s uphill, I got to say hello to some ponies and observe the wooded surroundings. When I found the garden, I could already glimpse Keepsake shining in the sunlight, and was so pleased to see how good the sculpture looked. Keepsake is on a piece of garden which is surrounded by flowerbeds, currently displaying some beautiful roses in bloom, all of which adds to the joy of visiting this particular heart.
Having taken a variety of photos, I thought it’d be a good idea to get some video footage too – starting at the entrance to the garden, I tracked down to Keepsake, and later uploaded the video via social media. It’s quite easy to find Keepsake in the garden, but due to the work that we do, I’m particularly aware that some people aren’t able to visit places such as parks, and wanted those who can’t necessarily get out to be able to see what I could see.
I then had enough time to head into the town centre before returning to the office. Between our Crawley office, on Brighton Road, and County Mall, I collected another heart, then found two more inside the shopping centre whilst I made my way to the Heart Trail Hub. The team from St Catherine’s Hospice were busy setting up the space for the activities which will be taking place throughout the summer – visitors can participate in free art activities here, as well as supporting the hospice by purchasing merchandise. I was pleased to hear that a Heart Trail colouring book is coming soon, and look forward to getting one of these for myself.
My heart-hunting took a break for the weekend, but a few days after the Trail began, I returned with a team of colleagues, who had just finished providing their services for a funeral at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium. Together, we took a trip to the Walled Garden and the team kindly posed for a photo with Keepsake on another glorious sunny day – we really have been fortunate with the weather recently. We took full advantage of the conditions and popped in to the garden café for some treats, enjoying our ice creams in the sun with Keepsake.
Seeing my colleagues admire the artwork was nice too. The piece really does look fantastic in person, with the metallic paintwork and ‘gemstones’ looking impressive. It becomes clear that Lindsay spent over 100 hours working to build up this sculpture, the attention to detail is astonishing.
At the end of week one, I’d already managed to collect ten of the 26 hearts on the Trail – my role means that I’m out and about quite a lot, and I just so happen to find my way past hearts at the moment! It’s been a great start to the campaign so far, and I’m excited to see what the next eight weeks bring.