Austin's Blog


Austin’s Charitable Fund Update

March 24th, 2020    Author:

As we reflect on another year of Austin’s Charitable Fund we are delighted to share the news of our 2019 success and who we will be supporting throughout 2020.

As a bit of background, our charitable fund was set up in 2002 and has since raised over £130,000 for community-based and local charities including the Samaritans, Stevenage Haven, Cancer Hair Care and Tracks Autism. We’re very grateful to everyone who has helped to raise money for all of our charities.


Over £5,000 raised for the Butterfly Volunteers

Back in early March we were delighted to make a donation of £5,169 to the Butterfly Volunteers at the Lister Hospital, following a series of events throughout the year.  Take a look at this video that RewindMedia kindly made explaining what the volunteers do 

These wonderful, specially-trained volunteers provide companionship for end-of-life patients at the hospital and need to raise £25,000 a year to continue their work. We’d like to thank each and every one of you who helped us in raising a fifth of their annual fundraising target, hopefully taking the pressure off just a little bit!

Our Managing Director Claire Austin visited the Lister to hand over the cheque to Abdellah El Alami, General Manager for Cancer Services at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, and Butterfly Volunteer Service Coordinator Angela Fenn.

Claire Austin presenting cheque to Butterfly Volunteers


Introducing Cruse Bereavement Care – our 2020 charity of the year

We’re pleased to announce our 2020 charity of the year is Cruse Bereavement Care Hertfordshire. If you’ve recently visited one of our branches you may have already noticed the Cruse charity boxes inside.

Cruse Bereavement Care exists to promote the well-being of bereaved people and to enable anyone suffering bereavement caused by death to understand their grief and cope with their loss.

Cruse was established as a charity in 1959 and quickly grew across the country with local branches being set up. Each and every Cruse volunteer goes through a nationally accredited training programme in order to ensure that they practise to a consistently high standard and ensure continuous delivery of service.

Cruse Hertfordshire is run as a free service from their office in Hatfield with around 80 volunteers operating the helpline and visiting clients in their own home on a one-to-one basis.

Although volunteers provide their services free of charge, the charity needs to raise funds to pay for administrative and office costs, the telephone helpline and volunteer expenses.

Of course, these are very challenging times during the current pandemic and Cruse are currently having to transfer all of their services over to telephone support.  Although they have many trained volunteers who are able to provide this service, the charity says that they will need to cover the extra costs arising from the telephone sessions.

Once their service resumes and they are able to reinstate training, the team at Cruse would like to provide their volunteers with a number of extra training opportunities, and we very much look forward to being able to support them in doing just this.

Chair, Sue Friend, said: “Cruse Bereavement Care Hertfordshire are delighted to be chosen as Charity of the Year by Austin’s. Their recognition of the help our dedicated volunteers give to bereaved people means a great deal to our organisation.”

To find out more about the Cruse Bereavement Care Hertfordshire, visit:

 In the meantime, we’ll be posting updates about the work they do throughout the year on our website and social media channels.


Butterfly volunteers: Making a difference to every last minute of life

February 4th, 2019    Author:

Butterfly Choir

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life”. We all know February is the month of love, but with Time to Talk Day on the 7th, it’s also about opening up about mental health – anxiety, depression, perhaps even loneliness. We all know how important relationships are at all stages of our lives, and feeling close to those that we love.

How would you feel about being alone in the last chapter of your life? What would you do if you couldn’t get to a family member or close friend in their last few days?

Charity of the year

With this in mind, we’re delighted that our charity of the year for 2019 is the Butterfly Volunteers Service. This incredible team of specially trained volunteers are based at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage where they provide support and companionship to dying adult patients and their families.

The quote above is from Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the Hospice Movement. It’s hugely poignant and synonymous with the Butterfly Service, which creates a ‘hospice in hospital’ environment.

The Butterfly volunteers, or ‘Butterflies’ for short, say: “It is recognised that in the final days and hours of a person’s life, it is not always possible for staff or family members to sit with dying patients; factors determining this include busy workloads and geographical proximity of relatives.”

Happiness is love

We love these words from one of the Butterflies: “For me happiness is love, not just receiving it but also being able to give it, share it. Being with a person at the end of life is a privilege and I hope it makes a difference to their lives, as little as it may be.”

Helping in numbers

Did you know that, before the Service was set up in 2016, an estimated 15-20 patients a month were dying alone at the Lister Hospital, either waiting for relatives to arrive or because they didn’t have any relatives?

As heartbreaking as that number is, it’s wonderful to hear that last year the hospital’s 30 Butterflies sat with 650 patients, made over 2,000 visits and provided over 1,000 hours of emotional support. Now they’re some numbers to be proud of, and there’s no doubt the Service has made a fundamental difference to the way the Lister provides end of life care.

Working as a team

The work these volunteers do really is priceless. If you’re at the Lister Hospital and see people in purple polo shirts with butterfly logos, you’ll know what amazing work they’re doing.

The Butterflies work with:

● Patients nearing the end of their life, who may feel lonely and frightened. They might read to them, sit with them or just hold their hand
● Friends and family of the patients who may need someone to talk to, someone to give them a break from sitting by the bedside, or simply to make hot drinks or run errands to the hospital shop
● The ward staff to help free up their time to care for other patients, safe in the knowledge that there is someone providing support to patients who are dying

One person helped by the Butterflies said: “To leave Dad with a Butterfly Volunteer, who we knew would sit with him in our absence, was a great comfort to us. You helped to make a difficult time a little easier. Thank you.”

Austin’s charitable work
The Butterflies need £25,000 a year to continue their work and we aim to help them towards that target throughout 2019. Our charitable fund was set up in 2002 and it has raised over £125,000 for community-based and local charities including the Samaritans, Stevenage Haven, Cancer Hair Care and Tracks Autism. We’re very grateful to everyone who has helped to raise money for these brilliant charities so far.

To find out more about the Butterfly Volunteers Service, visit:

We’ll also be posting updates about the work they do throughout the year on the website and on our social media channels.

Donation to Isabel Hospice

May 17th, 2018    Author:

MD Claire Austin was thrilled to hand over a cheque for £5,000 to Isabel Hospice  this week. Isabel Hospice cares for adults with a life-limiting illness across eastern Hertfordshire.  Specialist palliative care is available to adults both at home and at the In-Patient Unit as well as at the Day Service locations. All care is free, although running costs each year are currently £4.5 million, of which £2.8 million must be raised from charitable sources.

The donation was made possible by our membership of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), which runs an innovate Metals Recycling Scheme.  As part of the scheme, crematoriums can have metals collected from their premises, with profits from the recycling scheme fed back so that they can donate to their nominated charity.

Photo L – R are: Beth Hardy, Head of Community and Events, Nurse Anne Porter, Austins MD Claire Austin and Nurse Karen Beckwith


Cheque presentation of £5,000 made to Peace Hospice


Austin’s charitable donations

March 27th, 2018    Author:

We believe in helping those most in need in our community, which is why we set up Austin’s Charitable Foundation. Each year, we’re delighted to be able to support a charity by donating a proportion of our annual profits along with money donated from sources including our funeral service CD and Christmas carol concert.

Since we started the foundation in 2002, we’ve raised over £100,000 for charities such as the North Herts Samaritans, Cancer Hair Care, the Hertfordshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre and Road Victims Trust. Earlier this month, Austin’s was thrilled to hand over a cheque for £5,414.30 to our 2017 charity recipient Stand-By-Me. This local community-led service supports children and young people following a bereavement and helps them to understand and deal with grief.


We’d love to raise as much money, if not more, for our 2018 charity, Resolve – which supports people through their recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, and helps them understand the possible Outpatient facilities to consider before joining a program, and proceeds with their recuperation. If you’d like to help the local community in memory of a loved one, information on how to do this is available from all our funeral offices and at Harwood Park Crematorium. You can also download a donation form

With your help, Austin’s look forward to donating money to deserving causes for many years to come.


[photo caption]

Claire Austin hands over a cheque to (right) Shirley Avery, fundraising trustee at Stand-By-Me and (far right) Helen Gray, foundation director of Hertfordshire Community Foundation


* For help and support planning a funeral or cremation, please contact Austin’s on 01438 316623.