Westerleigh Group embrace Captain Tom tribute


Westerleigh Group’s grand tribute to Captain Tom

Teams from Westerleigh Group’s crematoria all over the country walked a total of 1,000 miles to raise more than £4,500 in honour of pandemic hero Captain Sir Tom Moore.

Westerleigh Group, the UK’s largest independent owner and operator of crematoria and cemeteries, challenged teams at its 35 sites across England, Scotland and Wales, to do something to support the Captain Tom Foundation on what would have been his 101st birthday.

The Foundation was formed by Captain Tom and his family in September 2020 to support organisations and charities which were close to his heart, including those which help people with life limiting illnesses or who are facing or coping with bereavement.

This resonated with the values shared by Westerleigh Group and prompted its leadership team to throw down the gauntlet to its teams to come up with their own ideas for raising money.

Westerleigh Group set up a JustGiving page and encouraged anyone in the local communities who visit or use one of their crematoria to make a donation to support the efforts of the local teams.

Westerleigh’s senior management team got the fundraising started with a £500 donation and the teams around the country then added a further £4,000-plus thanks to their efforts.

Many crematoria chose to pay tribute to Captain Tom by quite literally following in his footsteps.

Captain Tom captured the hearts of the nation by raising £38.9m for NHS charities by walking 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden before his 100th birthday.

Many Westerleigh teams decided that the best way to honour him was to do something similar and walk around their crematoria grounds; some – like the teams at Howe Bridge, West Berkshire, West Wiltshire and Stirlingshire, chose to do 100 laps while others, like the five-person team at Borders Crematorium in Scotland, chose to walk 100 miles.

The Great Glen Crematorium team decided to go the ‘extra mile’, since the campaign was in honour of Captain Tom’s 101st birthday; one lap of their site is exactly one mile, so the five members of the team each walked 20 laps/20 miles, and then they came together to walk the final mile together.

The Sedgemoor Crematorium team also walked 101 laps while the manager of Test Valley Crematorium in Hampshire, Rob Metcalf, chose to run 100 laps around the car park.

The team at The Vale held a ‘fast wheels relay’ to cover their 100 laps, with bikes, a scooter and a skateboard.

Not all the sites chose to walk laps to raise money. A number of other activities also took place, with Forest Park, Gedling and Parndon Wood crematoria opting for cake and bake sales.

The site manager at Forest of Dean Crematorium turned to pedal power, covering 100 miles on an indoor bike at home in honour of Captain Tom. Similarly, a member of the team at West Lancashire Cemetery and Crematorium, cycled 100 laps around the site.

Team at Wessex Vale Crematorium hoisted a Union Jack flag on its new flagpole to mark how much money had been donated.

Their colleagues at Basildon Crematorium got to enjoy some prolonged peace and quiet, after self-confessed team chatterbox Zoe-Nikita Medcalf agreed to complete a sponsored silence, using notes to communicate with her team-mates.

West Lothian’s team took part in a quiz to raise money, facing ten questions in ten different categories, and inviting donations from local Funeral Directors, clergy, friends and family.

Meanwhile the team at Vale Royal Crematorium recorded their own version of You’ll Never Walk Alone, the song Captain Tom recorded with Michael Ball and which went to the top of the charts, earning Captain Tom a Guinness World Record for being the oldest performer to reach Number One.

Westerleigh Group’s central HR team also got in on the act, using the Strava exercise tracking app to log them walking or running 519 miles – the equivalent distance between Westerleigh’s most northern site, Stirlingshire Crematorium in Scotland – and most southern, Treswithian Downs in Cornwall.

Roger Mclaughlan, Chief Executive Officer of Westerleigh Group, said: “I’m very proud of the tremendous team spirit at all our crematoria, that’s been demonstrated once again by the way our teams have embraced the fundraising challenge.

“We’re grateful to our Funeral Directors and local communities for supporting our teams so generously. We’re delighted to be able to donate more than £4,500 to the Captain Tom Foundation, as our tribute to a remarkable man who inspired so many people during such a difficult time.

“On a day-to-day basis, our teams provide exceptional care and support to people all over the country who are also facing tough times.

“It’s been so rewarding for us to do something positive and raise money for some very worthy causes in honour of Captain Tom.”