Watton and Swaffham funeral director sets up fund to support families who have lost a child

Eddie Godden, left, and Andrew Francis from Andrew Francis Funeral Directors in Swaffham are hoping to raise £25,000 to help Breckland families who are suffering the heartbreak of losing a child. Picture: Matthew Usher. Eddie Godden, left, and Andrew Francis from Andrew Francis Funeral Directors in Swaffham are hoping to raise £25,000 to help Breckland families who are suffering the heartbreak of losing a child. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
3:47 PM

A funeral director is hoping to raise £25,000 to help Breckland families who are suffering the heartbreak of losing a child.

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Andrew Francis, who runs funeral services in Swaffham and Watton, has set up the Francis Foundation, a charity designed to assist in the payment of children’s funerals.

Currently, Mr Francis’ own independent family-owned business does not charge for children’s funerals but in other cases, families can face a bill of up to £1,500.

Thought to be the first of its kind, the charity will enable families in Breckland to arrange their child’s funeral through any funeral director across the district and the costs will be covered by the Francis Foundation.

The fund will be supported by ongoing charity events, the first of which will be a 24-hour cycling challenge in June.

Mr Francis, who has two daughters aged 11 and 14, said: “Until you have suffered the loss of a child, you cannot imagine what the feelings are going to be like.

“Children’s funerals can cause financial ruin that can break people, you don’t need that to add to the trauma of losing a child. To know you don’t have to worry about the bill means you don’t have to worry about money and can just think about looking after the family. We are starting with Breckland and will see how it goes.”

The fund, which will be made available from June 15, will cover the costs of funerals for children aged under 15.

Mr Francis, who has worked in the funeral service industry for 20 years, said there were on average between 25 or 35 deaths of children aged under in 15 in Breckland a year. It is hoped £25,000 will be raised to cover the cost of every child’s funeral needed in Breckland.

“It’s a subject you don’t want to approach but it’s there,” said Mr Francis. “We are not moaning at any other funeral directors for what they do but we want to help.”

The first large-scale fundraising event will be held on June 6 to 7 and will see 150 participants cycle 2,014 miles over 24 hours on six exercise bikes.

Staff at Andrew Francis Funeral Service, Mr Francis’ daughters and firefighters have already pledged to ride but they are calling out for more people to give up 15 minutes to an hour of their time and get on a bike.

Drinks and food will be provided for riders by the funeral home and all funds raised will go directly to the Francis Foundation.

To find out more about the charity or to offer your help for the 24-hour cycle challenge, call Eddie, who is leading the fundraising effort, on 01760 720200.

Are you setting up an innovative charity? Email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk.

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