Austin's Blog

 

Looking Back at 2021

December 15th, 2021    Author:

2021 seems to have flown by. After the loss and grief of 2020, this year has had its fair share of difficulties. But, just as we did last year, we’ve all pulled together and negotiated our way through another uncertain year, with lots to celebrate as well.

We started the year with Harwood Park being able to donate £10,000 to the Isabel Hospice, through a charitable scheme operated by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.  We presented the hospice with a giant cheque in January, knowing just how hard charities have been hit during the pandemic with their fundraising efforts limited by restrictions. Meanwhile, the team were hard at work taking in your real Christmas trees to recycle and do our bit for the environment.

With another national lockdown in force, we joined the Heart FM tech appeal. Many families were struggling to provide their children with the technology they needed to continue their studies during the lockdown, so we asked you to dig out those old laptops and tablets and drop them into one of our branches or to Harwood Park. On a similar theme, we were also very pleased to get involved with the ‘Give a Future’ campaign with North Hertfordshire College .

In February we announced our charity of the year; the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance. We’re looking forward to bringing you more information on how much we have raised for them in the new year, so watch this space.

We also announced ‘Lydia Day’, which is our initiative to give all of our staff a complimentary day’s leave on their birthday to show our appreciation for their hard work and support. We had two members of staff leave us this year after many years of loyal service: our Funeral Administrator at our Welwyn branch, Stephanie Lawrence retired after 14 years with us, as did Funeral Operations Manager, Alan Coleman, after 19 years, a key member of our Senior Management Team.

As spring finally arrived and we headed towards Easter we once again had the popular ‘Charlie Chicks’ on sale for Garden House Hospice, which are knitted by local ladies and contain a chocolate Easter egg. Easter also marked the opening of our new Funeral Arrangement Office in Hoddesdon where bereaved families would be guided and cared for by our experienced Funeral Administrator, Tina Williams.

As the lockdown lifted we were pleased to be able to sponsor, alongside Waitrose, the updated activity maps for Welwyn Garden City.  A great resource especially with so many people looking for different walks and cycle routes while we couldn’t travel further afield.

On 3rd May we had some very welcome news as the government announced for the first time in over a year that there would no longer be a limit on the number of people at funerals. At the same time, we also acquired premises in Harpenden, which have been in the process of being refurbished this year.

With the better weather we saw lots of visitors to our Memorial Gardens at Harwood Park and in August we launched our interactive map. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look. If you scroll over the numbers and names on the map, images of the gardens will be revealed.

At the end of the month we were delighted to see our sponsored Stevenage Borough Under 12’s squad play their first match of the season sporting their new Austin’s strip. A couple of weeks later we sponsored the ‘Excellence in Customer Commitment’ finalists at the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce awards.

In November we were over the moon to see that the Stevenage Community Trust raised a huge £36,500 from their Dinner Dance , which we proudly hosted on their behalf.  The Trust is an independent charity that provides funding and support to charitable organisations and people in need.

Now all that is left is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, as we remember how much stronger we are when we’re together. Enjoy the festivities and here’s to 2022!