Weekly Community Roundup – 25th October 2019

It’s been a busy few weeks for our branches up and down the country and this week we reflect back on some of the lovely work they have been doing within their local communities, starting with

Celebrating Black History Month – Steven Mears Funeral Directors

Our lovely Funeral Arranger, Janice Getten from Steven Mears celebrated Black History Month by making hampers to donate to local care homes. Janice also created orders of service detailing some historical achievements, a history of black inventors and traditional recipes.

On 17th September Janice, on behalf of Steven Mears Sydenham hired a saxophonist to play at St Christopher’s Hospice for an hour to entertain patients and staff.

Janice said: “The event was a success with one patient even joining in on the last song with the piano.”
Janice also visited Barchester- Westwood House Care and Castlebar Care Homes to introduce herself, donate a hamper, orders of service and other information.

On the 23rd October Peartree Care Home in Sydenham will be hosting an event to celebrate Black History Month, Janice has arranged for the saxophonist to play again as well as an African drummer.

Organising a service for bereaved parents – Henry Ison & Sons Funeral Directors

Henry Ison & Sons Funeral Directors helped organise a memorial service at Coventry Cathedral for over 150 bereaved families who had lost a baby.

The service drew inspiration from the children’s book Guess How Much I Love You, as attendees heard excerpts from the story and hymns sung by pupils from the local Exhall Grange Specialist School. Families also received free copies of the book as donated by 4Louis charity.

Paul Atkinson, Funeral Arranger at Henry Ison & Sons, said: “We want to get the word out that families don’t have to suffer in silence like so many do. There are many people in their situation who understand what they’re going through and want to talk.”

The service was made possible with the support of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and local organisations like Henry Ison & Sons. This is in addition to sponsorship from The Lily Mae Foundation, Baby Lifeline, Sands and eight other local bereavement charities.

Amy Jackson, founder and operations manager of the Lily Mae Foundation, said: “Remembrance events are really important to highlight the needs of bereaved parents, their families and friends.

“We thank all of those organisations involved in putting on the service for their hard work in giving bereaved parents a platform to remember their babies.”

All five Henry Ison & Son branches based in Coventry, Leamington Spa and Kenilworth installed window displays with The Lily Mae Foundation’s Memory Boxes to raise awareness for Baby Loss Awareness Week and the memorial service. The memory boxes provide items like toys, candles and books to aid families trying to cope with the loss of their baby.

Plane sailing for fearless Justin – Dawe Brothers Funeral Directors

Justin braved a 13,000-feet skydive to support St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford.
Justin, of Dawe Brothers Funeral Directors in Ledbury, joined the fundraising Flying Angels skydiving group to jump at Army Parachute Association Netheravon in Wiltshire.

Justin had previously attempted parasailing on holiday and took his wife on a hot air balloon ride for her birthday earlier this year. He explained he told his brother-in-law he’d like to attempt a parachute jump next.

Within minutes, his brother-in-law, whose mother had been supported by St Michael’s Hospice, had put him in touch with Mike Pullin from the Hospice Angels and he was quickly signed up for the tandem jump.

Justin said: “The nurses and volunteers at the hospice are wonderful, they create a bond and support the patients and their families until the end. It’s amazing to be able to do that for someone.

“My fundraising will help them to continue their work and that kept me focused when it came to jumping out of the plane.”

Strapped to an experienced instructor, Justin remained surprisingly calm as they prepared to jump. “I was taking in the beautiful view, the sun was shining and I could see as far as the Isle of Wight.

“It was phenomenal and something I’ll never see again in that way. The instructor took me through a cloud – that was like a sauna, I didn’t realise how warm a cloud is!”

As well as setting up a fundraising page, Justin held a tombola and raised funds for the Hospice from donated furniture, bringing his total raised to £1,500.

Resident’s funds given a boost – HAVEN Funeral Services

Funeral Director Douglas Goddard for HAVEN in Acton attended a coffee morning at Acton Care Centre where he took along a cheque for £25.00 which was raised from client donations for memory pins.
The money was raised from clients, and members of the public donating £2 and choosing a memory pin or pins.
A memory pin box & tree was displayed in the branch window which generated a lot of passing interest, including a little boy who purchased a cat pin badge in memory of his beloved cat.
The money will go into the resident’s activity fund.

Shaking up funeral donations – Woking Funeral Service

Woking Funeral Service give bereaved families the opportunity to ask friends and relatives for online donations to charities, raising an incredible £148,000 for the local hospice.

Funeral Director James Ray noticed families received less traditional donations like flowers, preferring to ask for donations to charities and often with a connection to their loved one. Woking Funeral Service therefore began offering the service to enable their clients to ask guests for online contributions to Woking & Sam Beare Hospices via a MuchLoved donation page.

James said: “We’ve seen donations go from around £100 in a collection box at the end of a funeral service to £1,000 online.”

Woking Funeral Service has raised over £250,000 for charities since the scheme was started by Funeral Partners five years ago. £148,000 of the donations has gone to support the great work of Woking & Sam Beare Hospices.

James said: “We always make sure families are aware of the MuchLoved service and many decide to use it. We promote it in the funeral order of service and also send the link for families to distribute to those who can’t attend the funeral.

“I’ve seen Woking & Sam Beare Hospices work relentlessly to improve the quality of life of those with life-limiting illnesses. It’s easy to see why we and so many of our families choose to support them.”

Phil Wormley, Director of Fundraising at Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, said: “It is an incredible amount of money Woking Funeral Service has raised for us over the last five years.

“Without support like this from local businesses we simply would not be able to continue to provide our specialist care to our patients and their families across North West Surrey.”

Stratford-upon-Avon School Uniform Bank – Hemming & Peace Funeral Services

From the beginning of July and on-going, Funeral Arranger Emma Gibbons has been collecting donations of school uniform for local schools.

Stratford-upon-Avon Uniform Bank collect new and pre-loved school uniform and distribute it to local families in need totally free of charge.

The donation point in branch garnered a very positive reaction from the local community and Emma continues to receive regular donations.

To date Emma has taken receipt of approximately 20 sacks full of uniform that will help families all over Warwickshire.

To find out more about SUA Uniform Bank donation points or to donate towards the cost of new uniform purchasing please use the link below.

https://www.gofundme.com/sua-uniform-bank or to apply for assistance, visit https://forms.gle/u2SCPXCWgsixDNtP6

Bereaved parents vote Daren Persson as the most supportive funeral director – Daren Persson Funeral Services

Daren Persson Funeral Services, North Tyneside, won The Most Supportive Funeral Director Award at Darcey’s Dream Ball and Awards, organized by the charity supporting families dealing with the loss of a child.

Seventy funeral directors were nominated for the award by bereaved families across the country, which was shortlisted to six by a panel of judges. Daren Persson then took joint gold for going above and beyond what’s expected of a funeral director.

Suzanne Bremner, funeral administrator at Daren Persson, said: “We are very humbled and honoured that the families who nominated us took the time to do this during such a sad time in their lives.”

“All staff across the Daren Persson branches show incredible dedication to their roles and they work very hard to ensure they support families 24/7, offering as much support as they need.”

Petra Williams, founder of Darcey’s Dream, said: “The families that nominated Daren Persson told judges the branch would do anything they could for a family.

“Families felt like they had a friend for life, as Daren Persson checked in with them after the funeral on a regular basis.”

Suzanne presented a £1,190 cheque to Darcey’s Dream, which she raised by inviting locals to shave her hair off outside Daren Persson’s Wallsend branch.

Suzanne said: “It was a small price to pay for such a well-deserving local charity as Darcey’s Dream, that supports so many bereaved families and siblings, as my hair will grow back.”

Petra said: “We’re so honoured that Daren Persson chose to support us and I think the amount raised is incredible.

“It will allow us to organise more activities for our sibling distraction therapy, as well as boost our Sibling Memory Boxes and 24-hour counselling support.”

Wet weather doesn’t dampen community spirit – Firmager Funeral Service

Firmager Funeral Service spread a little sunshine with their annual coffee morning in aid of Macmillan.

Every single member of staff either baked, faked or attended the coffee morning which shows their commitment to raising money for charity and supporting their colleagues.

There was a delicious array of cakes and bakes for sale and a raffle to be proud of.

A total of £275.60 was raised towards Macmillan Cancer Support which provides specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer.