Austin's Blog

 

Austin’s raise almost £250,000 over 20 years of their Charitable Fund

March 25th, 2022    Author:

There are celebrations all round as this year marks 20 years of the Austin’s Charitable Fund. The fund was set up back in 2002 by the Austin family to support and benefit charities and organisations in the local community, and includes a local Annual Charity selected by the family alongside some significant other financial support to local causes.

Managing Director, Claire Austin, explained that, prior to the Fund being set up, they would always have a lot of people writing to them with small charity requests, such as sponsorship for the London Marathon and other challenges; so they decided to focus their efforts and raise even more money for a few, select causes each year instead.

Each Annual Charity is promoted through their branches, website and social media. Funds are raised through families donating to the cause after losing a loved one, a percentage of profits, annual events such as the Christmas Carol Service at Harwood Park, and donation boxes in all of the branches.

Claire said: “The original concept of the Austin’s Charitable Fund was to find a way to ‘give back’ to the community we serve. The bereaved  families we look after live and very often work locally. Many of them have been supported by local hospices and care providers. Therefore, we feel we are creating a ‘circle of giving’.”

Over the last 20 years the fund has raised an incredible £242,385.54, after the most recent donation of £5,709 was made to 2021 Charity of the Year, the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT). A representative from Austin’s always visits the charities to hand over their cheques and this year it was Jackie Lawrence and Maggie Bashforth who were delighted to present the donation to EHAAT at their base in North Weald.

“We chose Herts Air Ambulance as our 2021 charity because they provide an amazing, but largely unseen, lifesaving service to our community and are funded purely by charitable giving,” said Claire.

Jackie Lawrence and Maggie Bashforth hand over the cheque to EHAA

A blog published last year by the Charity Commission stated that over 90% of charities had experienced some negative impact from Covid-19, “whether on their service delivery, finances, staff, or indeed on staff morale, resulting from the months of frustration and uncertainty”. Furthermore, 60% saw a loss of income, and 32% said they experienced a shortage of volunteers. While charity fundraising is always vital to their survival, the last few years have been particularly tough for everyone and highlights the impact something like the Austin’s Charitable Fund can make.

Just some of the charities represented by the Fund over the years include: Riding for the Disabled (2005), Hertfordshire Young Homeless Group (2007), Cancer Hair Care (2014), North Herts Samaritans (2015) and Resolve (2018), as well as local hospices, hospital charities and bereavement charities. They’ve all received donations between around £5,000 and £7,000, and some even more.

Alongside the Charitable Fund, there are other avenues of fundraising that Austin’s finds to raise more essential funds. Claire herself has had her fair share of challenges, visiting India in 2010, Vietnam in 2015 and, most recently, the Arctic Circle just before Covid hit, to raise funds for Home Start Hertfordshire. In fact, Home-Start Stevenage (as it was called back then) was Austin’s first ever Charity of the Year back in 2002.

Another avenue is the recycling scheme at the crematorium at Harwood Park. The metal that is left over after a cremation (hip joints etc.) is collected and sent over to Holland who then send some money back. Around every 4-6 months, Austin’s submit an application to the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management with a suggestion of who this money should be donated to. We will shortly be donating £15,000 to the Rennie Grove Hospice.

This year’s chosen Charity of the Year is the Anne Robson Trust. Austin’s look forward to raising funds for this wonderful charity and another 20 years of fundraising, because, in the words of Helen Keller, “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

What to do with your loved one’s ashes?

September 29th, 2021    Author:

Cremation is a very popular choice among Brits. In our blog last month we told you that, in 2019, 78% of funerals in the UK were cremations. The ashes that are left at the end of a cremation are called cremains and it is up to you what you choose to do with them. During the grieving process, playing games like 해외배팅사이트 might be able to help you take your mind off things.

With a burial, everything comes to a close at the end of the day; you’ve had the funeral and committed the body to the ground. There is a sense of finality, a feeling of closure.

Cremations, on the other hand, are different because after a short period the ashes are back with you. While some people might know what they are going to do with the ashes, or even have a second ceremony organised to bury or scatter them, many of us don’t know at this point what to do with them. And that’s absolutely fine because there is no rush. It may also help with the grieving process, just slowing everything down and taking your time to say your final goodbyes.

Some people decide not to do anything and simply keep the ashes with them. There is something to be said for knowing your loved one is still very close by.

It is legal to scatter ashes on land and water in the UK, as long as you have the landowner’s permission. Do think carefully about your choice. You will likely want to revisit the place for many years after you scatter the ashes, so make sure it is somewhere you will be able to access easily and without feeling like you shouldn’t be there.

For instance, you may have a field or meadow in mind, but will it always be as it is or could it be built on? If you’re thinking about a place where your loved one spent lots of time, such as a golf course then make sure you find out what you need to know. While they may grant you permission to scatter the ashes there, how easy will it be to revisit if you’re not a member or having to go after play stops to avoid the flying golf balls? Public venues such as football stadiums and tourist destinations are usually off limits. You will be grateful in the long term for finding somewhere peaceful and easy to visit where you don’t feel like you’re not welcome. Remember, you can scatter some of the ashes in different places.

Of course you can also choose to bury them in a churchyard or a memorial garden such as at Harwood Park. The good thing about burying ashes is that you have somewhere to go and visit your loved one and lay flowers on special occasions. Unlike scattering, you know they are there and you can have a memorial stone, just as you would a gravestone for a burial.

If you want to keep the ashes close to you, but not sat in an urn, there are many different options available. You can have their ashes made into memorial jewellery. Ashes can be added to colourful glass beads as a charm bracelet, included in a locket or set into silver for pendants and necklaces. You can also have ashes made into a diamond. Created in a laboratory, a hi-tech process extracts the carbon from the ashes and compresses it at a high temperature, after which the molten material reforms into its natural state. It’s then cut and polished into a genuine diamond. As we all know, diamonds are forever, so what a fitting way to remember your loved one.

Did you know Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, was shot into space after his death? There are now companies who will send ashes up into space, or if that’s a little too far, ashes can be added to fireworks, which are then set off into the sky in a very special fireworks display.

Why not divide the ashes up and give them out to family members to do as they see fit? Here is some more inspiration just to show that, with the help of specialist companies, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding a fitting final resting place for your loved one:

  • Scatter them from a hot air balloon or a light aircraft
  • Scatter them at sea or into a river by a special charter boat
  • Mix them into clay or concrete to make something such as a garden ornament, or have them sealed in resin
  • Commission an artist to mix them with paint and create a special portrait
  • Have them pressed into a vinyl record to play your – or their – favourite music

 

We can’t fly without you: Essex and Herts Air Ambulance is our 2021 charity of the year

March 20th, 2021    Author:

As the daffodils are shooting up, days are getting longer and the promise of warmer weather draws nearer, we’re delighted to announce our new charity of the year for 2021 – Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

We’ve all heard awe-inspiring stories of successful air rescue missions in the news, but how much do we really know about the Air Ambulance and the service it provides locally?

Introducing the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance

Here are some key points that you may not know about this fantastic charity…

  • The charity aims to save lives by delivering a first class pre-hospital emergency medical service
  • They are not part of the NHS and are funded entirely by public donations and National Lottery funding, with very limited financial support from the government
  • They are based in Colchester, Essex
  • Thanks to charitable donations they were able to welcome their first purchased helicopter, the Agusta Westland 169, to the fleet
  • They attend calls both by air in the helicopters and by road in rapid response vehicles

 And in numbers…

  • 2,366 missions in 2020 of which 479 were road traffic collisions
  • 1,239 missions by air and 1,127 by road
  • 1,626 patients treated by their critical care team

Our MD Claire Austin says: “We chose Herts Air Ambulance as our 2021 charity because they provide an amazing, but largely unseen, lifesaving service to our community and are funded purely by charitable giving.”

Charities during Covid

Austin’s charitable fund was set up in 2002 and we have raised over £130,000 for community-based and local charities including the Samaritans, Stevenage Haven, Cancer Hair Care, Tracks Autism and, over the last couple of years, the Butterfly Volunteers at the Lister Hospital and Cruse Bereavement Care.

When we announced Cruse as our 2020 charity of the year last March, we had no idea how difficult things would become for charities nationwide.

Back in June it was predicted by independent charity Pro Bono Economics that the UK’s 170,000 charities would lose £6.4 billion of income over the six months to December 2020, leaving one in 10 potentially facing bankruptcy.

This was a particular threat for smaller, local charities struggling with reduced income and fundraising paused, but increased outgoings on extra costs for things like food, medication and PPE. Those who are in short supply of basic needs like this, can trust sites like kinship care california.

The Air Ambulance, like so many others, have had to get creative with their fundraising. They’ve set up online giving platforms, virtual fundraising platforms and even come up with all sorts of ideas for ‘at home fundraising’ including baking challenges (bring back the banana bread from lockdown 1.0!) to Netflix parties!

Onwards and upwards

We’re very grateful to everyone who has helped to raise money for all of our nominated charities so far. Your support really does make a difference, particularly during these most challenging times.

To find out more about the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, visit: https://www.ehaat.org/

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

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 https://player.vimeo.com/video/362540032 

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: www.cruse-hertfordshire.org.uk/contact

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