Posted: 15th February 2021
Having always been passionate about flowers, being made redundant gave me the opportunity and space to change my career path to floristry after 36 years in the corporate world; a bit of a sea change, but I love it.
My Grave Tending business provides a personal, friendly, fully managed Graveside tending service using seasonal flowers and bespoke designs for people who can’t be there in person. That reason could be distance, I have customers in Canada and New Zealand, limited time, not able to travel to the Grave or because too distressing for them. Losing someone we love is extremely painful, but as time moves on a grave plot provides a place to honour their lives and your love for them.
I tend graves all over Suffolk and across the borders, visiting Cemeteries and Churchyards is an absolute joy, they are places of natural calm and beauty, bursting with nature.
Alongside my Grave Tending and Flower business I am also a qualified Cruse Bereavement Support Volunteer, my customers will be grieving too, I understand how difficult it is for them not being able to visit their loved ones grave.
But why grave tending …
My aunt and uncle lived in Yorkshire and tended various relatives’ graves in Hampshire, being busy people they struggled travelling monthly to Hampshire. Since that time I have sadly lost my own parents and my beloved aunt and found myself in a similar situation, I realised I wanted to use my floristry skills tending graves for others who face similar challenges.
Tending a grave includes maintaining the grave by cleaning the memorial, pots and stones, picking up debris, weeding, trimming the grass and placing a personal message, families will receive before and after photos as well as when I will visit next. Grave Flowers can be wreaths, bouquets, plants or arrangements, I revisit after a time to dispose of the flowers and make clean & tidy again.
Beautiful flowers are not only for weddings. When I am designing my bouquets and wreaths for graves I use the same principles I use for any celebration … that they will delight, surprise and in this case provide reassurance that the loved one is honoured, loved and respected. Flowers are a symbol of life as well as sending messages,, I carefully select the flowers I use … a simple arrangement of Stocks meaning You will always to beautiful to me an example of a message a husband my want to send to his wife.
My Floristry and Business skills equip me with all the professional experience I need to provide this needed Service … families may need me long term on a regular basis or just for a short while.
When I was bouncing the idea for the Business around everyone would say ‘great idea, I didn’t know such a service existed’ it was the same when I spoke with businesses to partner, a Funeral Director said to me ‘I will give out your leaflet if anyone asks but to be honest in all the years I have been in the business no one has every asked.
This was a light bulb moment for me, I realised that I needed to promote the Service of Grave Tending not just my business, I also soon realised that mostly my customers wouldn’t be local, they could be anywhere in the UK or world. Therefore, my focus had to be to increase the Awareness of the Service and reach my client base within the UK and globally – but how could I do that? Whilst listening to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour they were promoting ‘Listeners week’ so I thought, what better way to raise awareness and reach my audience. I emailed the programme and was delighted to get a quick reply from the Producer saying they were interested in featuring me and my business. My interview was on the 26th August 2020 with Jane Garvey, it was a wonderful experience and the response and feedback I received incredible. As well as enquiries, over the past months I have been contacted by over twenty different people who listened to me and have been so inspired are setting up similar businesses across the UK, I didn’t expect that at all. It was actually a blessing, I am in the process of setting up an Association of Grave Tenders so we can all work together promoting the service and passing referrals to each other providing a Service to whoever is in need as well as sharing knowledge, ideas and providing support to each other, as you all know being a sole business owner can be lonely at times so very welcomed.
Covid-19 has impacted our lives, everyone has been affected in some way. I talked about WiRE on Woman’s Hour and the incredible support and benefits being part of a Network of 6000 members, there is no better time to help and support each other than now. With this in mind, I thank you for reading my story and would very much appreciate if you could share my business with your friends and networks to promote the awareness of Grave Tending as a Service and help me reach customers in need, especially at this time when we are not able to travel, contact me if I can help you in any way or if you have any questions.
Women’s Hour Interview
I wish you all well and stay safe,
Grave Tending & Flowers By Jo
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