Funeral directors walk 500 miles for Chestnut Tree House

Employees of Ian Hart Funeral Service will walk 500 miles this May as part of a year-long 20th anniversary charity challenge – to raise £10,000 to pay for a day’s care at children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House.

Funeral director Sam Hart – son of company founder Ian Hart – is leading the fundraising effort after settling on the idea over dinner with his mum, Sue.

“Chestnut Tree House opened in 2003 and we launched the business in 2004. We’ve had links with Chestnut since the start,” says Sam. “Those links are both personal and professional. My auntie, funeral director Jane Keeley’s goddaughter has been cared for by Chestnut Tree House since it opened, and she is now 25. We’ve been able to witness that support Chestnut offers first-hand.

“I’ve also been to the hospice to arrange funerals. At such a devastating time for the family, it’s not just Mum and Dad being supported through that bereavement. You’ll see staff looking after the siblings, taking them for a swim, just making that experience as easy as it can be. Chestnut Tree House is a sanctuary for these families in such a difficult time. As we’re celebrating 20 years in business, we wanted to give something back.”

The fundraising kicked off last month when staff offered their services for a charity car wash and there will be a coffee morning in September with a company-wide Bake Off challenge. Sam is organising a golf day in June and will field a team in a special match against Broadwater Cricket Club over the summer. He’s also planning a charity football match against a Brighton and Hove Albion XI and a World Cup of Indoor Bowls later in the year.

May’s Proclaimers Challenge was born out of necessity – “My first baby is due in two weeks, so I needed something that required minimal organising!” says Sam. “The whole team can get involved, and 500 miles between 15 of us is doable. Some will do less, but others can pick up the slack. It’s going to be a nice team effort and hopefully the weather is turning, so this will get everyone out and active.

“We have a lot of money to raise over the year, so I’m hoping this will make a good dent in it!”

If you’d like to help Sam and the team raise £10,000 to pay for a day of Chestnut Tree House’s care costs: