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Sponsor Blog – Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors – Part 1

Our wonderful HeART to Heart sponsors have not only supported us through their sponsorship of a heart on our trail, but they have also got involved in the trail in a variety of other ways; from becoming HeART to Heart ambassadors to takeover days at The Hub in County Mall. Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors recently spent two days taking over The Hub. Here, their Community Co-Ordinator, Becky Hughes tells us more about their first takeover.

With offices across Sussex, Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors takes a keen interest in supporting the communities local to Billingshurst, Crawley, Horsham and Hurstpierpoint.  2019 sees the company’s Crawley branch celebrate ten years in the town and, as part of this, Freeman Brothers proudly sponsors the St Catherine’s Hospice HeART to Heart Trail.  As part of this, the team participated in a ‘Hub Takeover’ at the charity’s event Hub in County Mall, Crawley.

Since the HeART to Heart Trail started at the beginning of July, I’ve been busy promoting the event via social media, and visiting as many hearts as possible, including our sponsored heart, which is in Tilgate Park.  Keepsake looks particularly beautiful in the sunshine, surrounded by some beautiful roses and conveniently-located next to the café – I highly recommend that you pay a visit!

One of the many opportunities we’ve been offered as part of our sponsorship was to be resident at the hospice’s event hub in County Mall for a day.  The hub is operating in several ways: it’s an easy place to pop in and pick up a trail map, or ask questions about the event; visitors can purchase merchandise being sold in aid of the hospice; hosting free art activities for members of the public.  Art activities are running on specific days, and the schedule can be found online.  When formal activities aren’t taking place, there’s still plenty to see and do!

Having arrived at the hub early in the morning, I was shown around by Emma from the hospice, who talked me through what we could offer to visitors.  In addition to the hub hosting one of the large hearts which forms part of the trail – Wasteful Heart, which is to be completed with help from the community during one of the hub’s workshops – the hub is home to one of the trail’s ‘Young Hearts’.  These were decorated by local schools – the one in the hub was a project by Three Bridges Primary School.

There’s a station in the hub for members of the public to contribute to another Young Heart.  The hospice has provided ribbons on which people are able to write the name of a loved one who has died – whether they were a patient at the hospice or not – and tie their piece of ribbon to the heart in the person’s memory.  Submissions are also currently still open for the Secret HeART project too.  This is a chance for anyone to contribute to the HeART to Heart exhibition, which will take place in October.

The final regular element of the hub is that a colouring competition is underway.  The hospice have provided blank templates of the heart sculptures in order for visitors to choose what they would have designed had they been in charge of decorating a heart.  Entrants are primarily children, and the competition will be split into age categories, with the winner of each category receiving a goodie bag and tickets to the exhibition of all hearts which takes place prior to them being auctioned in October.  The winning artists will then also get to see their designs displayed at the pre-auction exhibition too!

Our first hub day took place during the first week of the summer holidays, and there were lots of families out and about enjoying the trail.  The previous day had been the hottest day of the summer to date, so many were making the most of the fact that the weather was a bit cooler, and it was more pleasant to be outdoors.  It was great to be able to talk to people about their favourite hearts that they’d visited so far.  Our team had ordered and were wearing special t-shirts with a picture of Keepsake on them, so those who had yet to make the journey to Tilgate Park got a taste of what’s to come!  It also allowed us to share why we’d chosen this design – to mark our tenth (or tin) anniversary – and how we thought that the padlock design also fit with the fact that we help people to remember their loved ones.

Lots of people chose to get involved with the colouring competition – there was one point where there were no spare seats at the table!  There were lots of different supplies provided, with wax crayons and soft stickers proving particularly popular.  Many of the children chose to use bright colours, which was great to see.  I even had a go myself – I enjoy colouring as it helps me to switch off, I find it a very mindful activity.

Whilst they were busy colouring, several people took the time to tell us about their designs.  Most of them had taken the heart as inspiration and were choosing colours or themes based on what someone they had been close to had enjoyed.  It was touching to hear positive stories of the hospice, and how much the care that their loved ones had received meant to people.  It made what we’re doing by supporting the HeART to Heart campaign feel all the more important, and it’s great to know that what we’re doing helps a good cause.

For those who took the opportunity to buy a piece of merchandise, we offered a free gift – a pack of our forget-me-not seeds – with their purchase.  Another thing that the hospice have set up which I’m a fan of is a contactless payment donation point.  Many people don’t always carry cash now, and the contactless points are easy to use.  The one at the hub has three settings to choose the donation amount, then the cardholder simply touches their card to the reader and the donation is made.  I think these are a great idea to help boost donations.

As always, we were ready to answer any questions people had about funerals.  My colleagues Vicky and Chrissie were with me throughout the day, as their roles involve funeral arranging, and they’re able to answer detailed questions on that.  We’re all passionate about people having conversations about funerals before they’re in the position of arranging one, as we know from experience that this can make the process a lot easier.  So many people are afraid to discuss their wishes, or don’t know where to start, which is where we can be of assistance.

We had a brilliant time taking over the hub, and the busy day sped by!”

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