A community came together to share some seasonal joy despite the pandemic, thanks to a huge helping hand from Borders Crematorium.
With the consent of families, metals recovered during cremation are recycled and any money raised at each of the 34 crematoria and cemeteries nationwide, operated by Westerleigh Group, is used to support local worthy causes.
The ‘Merry Meander’, a fun-filled family festive event hosted at The Haining Estate in Selkirk, received a donation of nearly £1,400 from the crematorium.
Each of the group’s crematoria is able to choose where to donate its money, and the team at Borders chose to support the Merry Meander, as well as donating £1,000 to Youth Borders.
John Nichol, a Trustee for the Haining Trust, came up with the idea for the Merry Meander as a way of bringing some much-needed Christmas spirit to local families.
He said: “It created a welcome distraction from the current coronavirus crisis and delivered a sprinkling of Christmas magic.
The generous donation from the Westerleigh Group enabled us to bring a little light into an otherwise very dark time.”
More than 500 people from all generations, from all over the Borders, braved wet and cold conditions to enjoy a walk around the Haining Loch path, which had been illuminated and decorated with Christmas theming.
Judith Emond, Site Manager at Borders Crematorium, said: “Support for the event came from far and wide, with many local businesses and people contributing their time and various resources to help bring the community together, under Covid-safe conditions, and to spread some smiles and laughter.”
An army of volunteers was on hand to make sure the event ran smoothly and safely.
The Haining Volunteers, Selkirk Rotary Club, Selkirk Ex-Soldiers Association and Selkirk Merchant Company, handled the smooth running of the car parking, and general marshalling.
Volunteers from the Selkirk Community Shed made signs and built Santa’s sleigh, and the Selkirk Yarn Stormers knitted elf hats for all of Santa’s little helpers.
Judith said, “John thought it would be really nice to just light up the paths on the estate, to try to spread a little joy, and it just grew from there.
There were life-sized wooden reindeer among the trees, with elves searching for them, and elves (wearing elf and safety hi-vis) rescuing presents from Santa’s sleigh, which had crash-landed in the loch. Of course, Santa himself made an appearance, and the Living Nativity team, who normally appear in Selkirk Market Place every Christmas Eve, provided tableaus, costumed characters, and an assortment of farm animals, around the loch.”
Judith, herself, became “Mrs Claus”, and said she was thrilled to see local children turn up, with their letters for Santa.
She added, “The Haining Estate has always been a popular venue for family activities, and local people were devastated because many community events were cancelled because of the pandemic.
We had support from MKM Building Supplies, Creative Stage, Speedy Services, Soundwaves Pro Audio and Fountain Designs. Selkirk Distillers provided their famous Apple Brumble Punch, and Booker Wholesale donated hot chocolate and marshmallows – both essential elements for any Merry Meander”.
Judith said: “It was lovely to see three generations of some families come together to safely walk around the festive path.
“Just for an hour or so, people were able to forget about the pandemic, make some memories and safely enjoy some quality family time together.
“A huge amount of work was involved in making this happen, but the look of excitement on the faces of the children, and the fantastic feedback we’ve had about the event, made it all so very worthwhile.
It’s great that the crematorium was able to make such a significant contribution to an event which brought the whole community together and brought a lot of joy to people during a particularly difficult time.”
Borders Crematorium also made a donation to Youth Borders, a network of voluntary and community-based youth organisations in the region, which support and promote good quality youth work.