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Sponsor Blog – Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors – Part 2

In our last blog, Becky from Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors told us about their first takeover at The Hub in County Mall. Here, Becky tells us more about the teams second takeover day, as well as their HeART to Heart sponsor story so far.

“Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors is a proud sponsor of the St Catherine’s Hospice HeART to Heart Trail, taking place this summer throughout Sussex.  The company is supporting the event as part of the celebrations building up to the tenth anniversary of its Crawley branch in November 2019.  Freeman Brothers’ sponsorship is also part of the company’s Community programme, whereby the organisation aims to help the areas around its offices in Billingshurst, Horsham and Hurstpierpoint too.

The team at Freeman Brothers have been getting involved with various aspects of the HeART to Heart campaign.  From using the app to visit and unlock hearts across the district, to following updates on social media and fundraising by making heart-replica biscuits, there has been lots going on!  The team ran their first ‘Hub takeover’ day at the event’s base in County Mall, Crawley during July, and returned for another in August.

It’s already been so much fun taking part as a sponsor of HeART to Heart.  As the school summer holidays began, excitement really picked up, and I was delighted to hear how things were going.  The HeART to Heart app quickly reached 1,000 downloads, and the campaign crossed the fundraising mark of £100,000, which is fantastic news.

When we first enquired about sponsorship, the team at St Catherine’s Hospice were keen to tell us that the trail was going to be far more than just the sculptures themselves.  It sounded incredibly ambitious to me, but as the different activities popped up and the public continued to engage, it’s been lovely to see it all take shape.  From workshops at the hub in County Mall, to an origami station in Swan Walk, Horsham, there’s so much to explore, and all for free!

I was joined for our second Hub day by my colleague Abi, who is very creative!  One of Abi’s main hobbies is knitting – she’s created lots of beautiful garments to give to friends for their children to wear, plus a particularly memorable panda blanket for her Mum.  I asked Abi if there was anything she’d be able to teach people to knit on the spot, and she optimistically said yes.  She soon found a pattern for miniature hearts online, quickly taught it to herself and decided it was something which would work, so came armed with knitting needles and wool for our Hub day!

I became the guinea pig student.  My grandmothers had attempted to teach me to knit as a child, but it had been a very long time since I’d tried to knit, so we started at the beginning.  I chose orange wool for my first heart, to match the hospice’s branding (and my own manicure!).  An hour later, I had finally completed three small rows of knitting – including casting on with Abi’s help – and was very proud of myself.  Abi said she’s never seen me concentrate so hard (perhaps not what one ought to hear from one’s boss…), and I actually found it therapeutic to forget everything else and just focus on needles and wool.

We took a break – for the benefit of my brain and Abi’s patience – and joined the activities at the art table.  Artist Rachel Cowell was also at the Hub for the day, and she had prepared an activity to get people thinking about the environment.  Rachel invited us to take part in a printing activity.

As with my colouring during our previous Hub day, I took inspiration from our own branding – our ‘zen garden’ image is, after all, a variety of plants – and attempted to re-create this in print form.  My limited artistic skill meant that my piece was a little on the abstract side!  Abi let her imagination run wild, and chose to incorporate a selection of patterns in her print, which then became a multi-coloured masterpiece.

Lots of families were flowing in and out of the Hub, enjoying the printing activity and collecting Wasteful Heart, the heart in residence as part of the trail.  Hospice volunteers were on-hand to help provide further information about the trail, and I was delighted to see that the colouring books we had been promised had finally arrived!  I enjoy colouring in my spare time, and it’s great to see some of the designs featured on the trail reproduced in a colouring book.  I’m looking forward to completing them soon, and particularly enjoy my hobby when I know a book has been purchased in support of a good cause.

Abi and I returned to our knitting – I was determined to complete a heart in a faster time than my first effort!  We looked through the wool available and realised that we had the correct colours to complete a miniature project.  Our second Hub day happened to be taking place on the same day as Brighton’s annual Pride event and, as keen supporters, Abi and I were sad to be missing out.  Whilst we couldn’t attend on this occasion due to our commitment to the hospice’s cause, we realised that we could still show our pride, and decided to knit a heart in each colour of the rainbow.

I achieved my goal of completing a heart in a better time, but my third attempt went somewhat downhill, so I let the expert take over, and Abi duly completed the rainbow of hearts faster than I am able to even cast on!  However, it was highly satisfying to finish this little project together, and I now have a knitted souvenir of our achievements hanging next to my desk.

It was great to see that the Hub has become a more active space since our visit a week earlier: as the summer holidays are now in full swing, lots of families were out and about.  The memorial heart has received many more ribbons in memory of loved ones – it’s lovely that people are getting involved.  Throughout both Hub days, I enjoyed watching families and friends interact via the art.

It struck me that there are many skills which are covertly being developed: whether users choose to participate via the smartphone app or the hard copy paper maps, there are a variety of tasks involved, from reading and using maps to inputting numbers and understanding the information provided.  Although children are on holiday from school, it’s a chance for them to put their skills to practical use, and enjoy an activity which also offers them the opportunity to be outdoors with those they’re spending time with.

There’s still plenty of time to get involved with the trail.  Activities at the Hub are advertised via the trail’s website, and are run free of charge.  The trail itself continues until early September, so there’s a good chance you can ‘collect’ all of the hearts.  Further updates will be posted here as we continue to be involved, including at the all-important auction in October, when the hearts will find their permanent homes.  Tickets for the Farewell Exhibition are on sale now, and are expected to sell quickly, so if you’d like a chance to ‘follow your heart’ and see all the hearts together for the only time, be quick!  It’s all in aid of a great cause.”

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