FoH July Blog
Welcome to the July edition of the FoH Blog. We hope you are enjoying the summer as the exciting transfer news from Tynecastle rolls in. Like the Club, we are working hard to make sure we are ready for the new season ahead. This month’s blog provides an update on our latest news.
The Kindness of Strangers
The Hearts community is a family, and, like all families, there are natural endings and beginnings. Lifelong supporters, steeped in the club’s folklore and legend, pass away, and their endlessly recounted tales of Hearts’ golden era and the feats of the Terrible Trio become ghostly memories. But as they leave us, the next generation of supporters are up and coming – young kids, bursting with pride and excitement at attending their first match with their parents. A page is turned and fresh ties with the club start to take root.
Last year, a lifelong Hearts supporter (we have been asked not to divulge his name) passed away at the age of 93. He had not been able to attend matches at Tynecastle for a number of years, but his affection for the club was undiminished. In his will, he directed his executors to give part of his estate to a body which promotes the aims and objectives of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.
The executors gave careful consideration as to how they should implement these instructions, and they decided that payment should be made to the Foundation. We are delighted to share that, on 24 June, the Foundation received a cheque for £108,725 from the executors.
This bequest means so much to us and the Club, and we can only express our deepest appreciation for the kindness and generosity of our benefactor. His gift reminds us yet again of how, in a quiet, unsung way, so many people are giving a helping hand to the club they hold dear. We will be discussing with the Club a fitting way of putting the legacy to use. In the meantime, we thank our unnamed friend – and you all – for being part of our journey. You are amazing.
Remembering McCrae’s Battalion
The Foundation was privileged to be invited to travel to Contalmaison this month as part of the annual pilgrimage made by McCrae’s Battalion Trust in remembrance of brave soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country during the First World War. Garry Halliday and, our chair, Brian Cormack proudly represented the Foundation and Brian shared his thoughts on the experience:
Garry Halliday and I travelled to Contalmaison in France at the start of the month on behalf of the Foundation of Hearts. We were honoured to be invited, along with Ann Budge and Eric Hogg from the club, to the ceremony organised by the McCrae’s Battalion Trust. This was the 99th anniversary of the first action of the Battle of the Somme where Hearts players and supporters were part of McCrae’s Battalion. It was an amazing day which closed the small village of Contalmaison and saw the officials, police officers and school children all join together with the visitors from Scotland to commemorate the fallen soldiers.
Jack Alexander, the author of McCrae’s Battalion, made a very emotional speech, as did Major Gary Tait of The Royal Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Mayoress of Contalmaison also spoke of the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France. After the ceremony we were taken to nearby fields where the soldiers from the Royal Fusiliers gave us accounts of the battle on the 1st July 1916.
In the afternoon the village hosted a lunch for the McCrae’s Battalion Trust where guests from Raith Rovers, Dunfermline, Falkirk and Hibs attended. The Scottish Government and the Edinburgh Council were also represented.
This was my first visit to Contalmaison but will not be my last. It was an amazing and very humbling experience.
Brian and Gary both travelled to Contalmaison at their own expense to represent the Foundation for which the rest of the Board are extremely grateful.
Managing our costs
One of the most significant costs to the Foundation each month are transaction fees associated with collecting pledges by direct debit via GoCardless. We are charged 1% of every direct debit collected, a very competitive rate when compared with other providers.
However, we are always investigating ways of reducing our operating cost to maximise the funds flowing to the Club. This month we managed to renegotiate our arrangement with GoCardless to include a maximum cap of 39p per transaction. This means that we will save on costs for every pledge over £40 from July onwards. We are very pleased to have agreed this with GoCardless and are grateful to them for their continued support.
FoH in the international press
The Foundation was delighted to be featured in an article in the Brazilian newspaper Valor this month. The article was entitled “Passion FC: stories of love for football show the strength behind fans interest in the sport” and spoke of the Foundation (and of the Hearts support) as an example of the love and passion that still exists within football. It also included a Q&A with our Chair Brian Cormack. The interest from abroad is a reminder that our message resonates beyond Scotland and we are delighted that the Foundation is being held up as an example for others to follow.
We have recently been developing a plan to recruit our members based overseas to act as ambassadors of the Foundation in their home countries. The number of FoH members not located in Scotland, or even the UK, is quite simply remarkable and each month we are overwhelmed with the feedback we receive from our members from abroad. This spawned the idea of a group of overseas ambassadors with the remit of promoting and sharing information about the Foundation to members and potential members in their geographic region.
We are still working through the finer details and have already received a number of emails expressing an interest in getting involved. If you are a FoH member and you are keen to learn more, please contact us at email@example.com and we will be in touch.
We will keep members up to date on the progress of this initiative and plan to feature details of our overseas ambassadors in future blogs.
A reminder to members that Premium Benefit and Premium Benefit Plus cards provided by the club are still available for collection from the club shop so why not pick up your card when you are collecting match tickets or buying our next season’s kit. Details of the range of discounts and benefits on offer are available at http://www.heartsdeals.co.uk/home.php.
Proud to Pledge
In our June blog we announced that we had arranged for the manufacture of the first ever Foundation of Hearts pin badge. We are pleased to confirm that our first batch were delivered this week and will be available to fans at our match day stall for a voluntary cash donation. As ever, all proceeds raised will be used to support the Club on its return to the Premiership. We hope members will wear the badge with pride.
The badge will be available before the Everton game on Sunday 26th July from 1pm at the Tynecastle reception on McLeod Street. We look forward to seeing you there.
Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback on this month’s blog below. By the time we publish the next blog, the season will be under way and, all going well, our first three points will be in the bag!