Find out how much your local Funeral Director, Bennetts Funeral Directors support the community!
Bennetts Funerals has been serving the Brentwood and Billericay area for more than a century. When the family-run business decided to mark its 125th anniversary this year, managing director Jane Bennett knew she wanted to implement some kind of legacy for the benefit of the local community.
At times it’s meant rolling up her sleeves, donning Wellies or dusting off her walking boots and at others, ditching footwear altogether for the red-hot embers of Brentwood Community Firewalk. But it’s all been well worth it for such a ‘wonderful, memorable year.’
We wanted to mark the anniversary because, I guess, for the 150th I won’t be around, so this was my reason for making this a prominent year.
We’ve always been part of the community and I wanted to do a community project, something that would show our support for the future as well.
Trees and timber have been very much part of our profession, and still are, so I thought we’d plant 125 trees. They help the environment, they brighten up the area and they have longevity,” said Jane Bennett.
Bennetts has planted trees in Billericay at Sun Corner and Lake Meadows, where an avenue of cherry trees will ‘look absolutely stunning each spring.’ Also in Brentwood, South Weald Park and the Community Orchard in Pastoral Way, Warley. Apple trees donated by Bennetts now grow in local school grounds too.
Three charities were chosen to benefit from the company’s fund raising programme throughout the year: Warley based children’s charity Special Needs and Parents (SNAP), St Luke’s Hospice in Basildon and Saint Francis Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower.
In June an Open Day was held at Bennetts’ Brentwood High Street headquarters for the local community to join in marking their anniversary. There was birthday cake, even a special, Brentwood-brewed anniversary beer and all three charities benefited from being the focus of fund raising efforts on the day.
To further support St Luke’s and Saint Francis hospices, two memory trees have been commissioned and installed in Bennetts’ offices in Billericay and Brentwood.
We’ve had two memory trees designed and sculpted by father and son artist metalsmiths Gary and Thomas Thrussell. They’re beautiful.
Anyone can have a leaf on the tree in memory of a loved one or to support the hospices. They can visit the trees anytime in office hours.
Funding goes straight to each of the hospices. At Brentwood it goes to Saint Francis Hospice and Billericay to St Luke’s.
Going forward it means we’re always there and supporting the hospices, a sort of legacy, which is what I wanted as the work the hospices do is fantastic.”
We hope the trees raise lots of money for the future of the hospices and that people draw some comfort from the fact their loved one is commemorated in that way and that they’re continuing to help the hospice,” said Jane.
In August a balloon race in aid of SNAP, sponsored by Bennetts, raised more than £600. The race started from East Horndon church.
SNAP had responses from Belgium and Germany. The furthest was around the Maastricht area of Germany and we received pictures and letters from the children over there who found them. Now people in Europe are aware of SNAP!” said Jane.
Keen walker Jane embarked on a charity challenge in aid of SNAP with her friend Mary, son Callum and his girlfriend, Phoebe and some four legged companions to raise another £1200 for SNAP this summer. The group and their dogs walked Hadrian’s Wall.
Near SNAP HQ in Pastoral Way, Warley, there is a sculpture carved into a fallen tree. Sponsored by Bennetts as another anniversary legacy, the artwork includes, among other subjects, the image of a child and a squirrel, depicting the theme of nature and nurture.
The sculpture is on the old Warley hospital site. Hollytrees School, SNAP HQ and Beechwood Surgery are there now and so we feel the theme is very apt.
In supporting local people who have experienced the death of a loved one, Bennetts works with Stepping Forward in Billericay and two bereavement support groups in Brentwood. New Era, formerly the Brentwood and Billericay Bereavement Support Group, meets on the second Wednesday of the month at St George’s Church Hall, Costead Manor Road from 1.30pm and marks its 10th anniversary in January. The other one, a parents’ bereavement group, meets on the first Monday of the month. Anyone wishing to attend any of these groups can contact Bennetts on 01277 210 104 for more details.
An annual memorial service, organised by Bennetts, for the bereaved and their families takes place is at the Regimental Chapel, a non-denominational church, at Warley.
As part of its anniversary programme, Bennetts sponsored the annual Brentwood Community Firewalk which took place at Old Brentwoods Club in October this year, helping to raise funds for lots of local charities, particularly SNAP. But the company has been a staunch supporter of local community events for decades, like the annual Brentwood in Bloom Awards. For the past 15 years Bennetts has organised and sponsored the competition for the Religious Grounds and in the recent past, the Schools categories too.
As a family we’ve always been involved in supporting the community. For generations we’ve been supporting local grass bowls events. My father started that. He passed away in the mid-seventies but it just shows how long we’ve been involved.
We sponsor the annual Arthur Bennett Memorial Trophy, a competition for all the Brentwood and District Bowling Association teams,” said Jane.
Like her grandfather and father before her, Jane Bennett is determined to keep Bennetts Funerals involved and at the heart of the local community. So as the anniversary year draws to a close, although plans not yet vocalised are quietly being formulated, you can bank on Bennetts being involved in the Brentwood and Billericay community throughout 2017 and well beyond that.