Welcome to our October Blog, another bumper edition for you covering everything that is going on at the Foundation of Hearts.
It seems only right that I acknowledge the sheer scale of activity that we have had across the last week or so at the Foundation of Hearts. Clearly the club made a strong start to the season and we saw the impact of that with many pledgers checking out their dashboards and rewards, getting in touch with us by email, lots of new or restarted pledges and a fair old amount of increased pledges. We are really grateful for the level of support you are showing the club through the Foundation of Hearts. We are discussing other ways in which we can allow members to contribute at times like this but for the moment the “donate now” button is available on our website. Our Twitter feed has been on fire, long may that level of engagement continue!
As I write this article, the level of funding we have now passed over to the Club and Bidco 1874 has passed £7.6m, it is an incredible level of support. Each and every one of us should be proud of the part we have played. We now have a community of around 11,000 Hearts supporters who have pledged at some point in our journey.
One of the items below is the conclusion of our second consultation on our Governance model. This process started some time ago, with a working group consisting of representatives from the Foundation of Hearts board, an academic from Heriot Watt University, an expert in the field of governance and members of the club executive. We have now consulted with our members twice, have considered all feedback, held a number of one to one meetings and made some changes along the way. We will now issue a final draft to members of the Governance committee to agree before we bring this to the AGM for approval. It has been a painstaking and thorough process carried out away from the public glare with our members. It is crucial we have a governance framework in place well in advance of becoming the majority shareholder in Heart of Midlothian FC.
I hope you like the proposals and ask that you join me in thanking those who have put in such hard work, all in the name of the long term future of the football club we all love so much.
On other matters, you will find some great coverage below of our recent plot ceremonies (with lots more of those to come), an update from Louise Strutt on her visit to Contalmaison, with further updates on funding, Director elections and AGM dates for your diary. You will also find this month’s ‘Why I Pledge’ story from Ian Baillie. I was lucky enough to meet and chat with Ian at his recent plot ceremony, he has a great story to tell. I hope you enjoy the content.
With the new state of the art pitch now in place at Tynecastle and the season under way in glorious fashion, the natural order has resumed with our plot ceremonies and membership clubs. We continue to receive incredible feedback about our ceremonies, including on social media, a snapshot of which we’ve included below to give a taste of how special these occasions are to so many.
The overriding sense we get from pledgers is that walking out onto the pitch and stepping into the shadow of the new main stand really brings home the magnitude of what we are achieving as a group and we hope that all Hearts fans share in this sense of pride.
The next scheduled plot ceremonies will take place on the 6th and 21st of October and we will continue to hold ceremonies approximately every 3 weeks (fixtures allowing). Every pledger who hits the required Maroon Points total will receive an invitation to this special event. Please bear with us as we work through the vast number of you who have now reached this level of points.
Contalmaison Memorial Service
In July, Foundation Director Louise Strutt attended the Contalmaison Memorial Service to lay a wreath on behalf of the Foundation. Afterward, she shared these reflections on her experience.
I had the great honour of attending the Memorial Service on 1 July 2018 at Contalmaison with the McCrae’s Battalion Trust.
Having been invited along to lay the wreath on behalf of all the Foundation of Hearts members, I travelled with the Club representatives Gary Locke and Jonathan Tink to Paris the day prior to the ceremony.
On arriving at Arras I was delighted to meet so many Hearts fans who had made the journey together with representatives from both Hibs and Raith Rovers. The service took place early on Sunday morning with a 7am start which led us to the village of Contalmaison.
I was not prepared for the welcome that we received from the French villagers or even the sheer volume of people who had turned out in attendance to remember our bravest team, from the French and Australian Army to the Canadian band that played throughout the service. This of course was hosted by Jack Alexander and many poignant words from Lt Col Gary Tait who I had the pleasure of sitting with at the celebratory lunch kindly put on by the villagers for all those that attend each year.
We were invited by the Mayoress to visit her offices which are next to the village church – this is full of memorabilia from all teams that served in the battalion and it was good to see in a prominent position Hearts McCrae’s Battalion Shirt from the 14/15 Season.
After lunch Lt Col Tait took us a short distance from the village to explain the timeline as it happened on 1 July 2016 and gave an incredible insight into the positions reached by the Battalion and of course relaying the story of how they held on to Scots Redoubt.
Standing in that exact spot, looking back at the village of Contalmaison, you cannot fail to be moved knowing that almost 20,000 men died there on what is still the blackest day in British military history. As a lifelong Hearts fan this visit was something I had wanted to do for some time and I would recommend all Hearts supporters to take the journey if you can. The overwhelming feeling of pride I have for our bravest boys is truly insurmountable.
Why I Pledge – Ian Baillie
I am now in my 70th year and have supported Hearts since the age of 7. I am also 100% Glaswegian (though my great grandfather was born in Cramond!). My family was strongly in the Rangers camp, but, luckily for me, my father was fairly lukewarm in his support for the Gers. By the age of 7 I had already decided (for various reasons) that I was a Hearts supporter, and eventually persuaded my dad to take me up the road to Firhill to see Hearts Reserves play Partick Thistle Reserves. He was only prepared to go for the second half, but at least I had the opportunity to see the maroon shirts run out from the tunnel, and that memory has never left me. The game finished 1-1! My father, incidentally, finished his life as a Hearts supporter, and often accompanied me to games in his later years.
Most of my secondary education took place at Bearsden Academy, where I played for the various age-group football teams. In our Under-13s team four of us were Hearts supporters, and by the Under-14s we had added a fifth. It was quite extraordinary for a West of Scotland school (I can only recall two Rangers supporters in the team!).
Unfortunately, my first visit to Tynecastle was not a happy one, as we lost the league championship to Kilmarnock in the final game of the season. Had goal difference been in operation rather than the ridiculous goal average (who thought that one up?) we would have comfortably won the league that day, no matter the result. Anyway, the devastation felt then was nothing compared to the way I felt after the Dundee defeat twenty years later. Worst day of my life.
By contrast, the best day of my life (unknown to my wife!) was the 1998 cup final. I was there with a young friend, then aged 17, who tried to keep me calm during that tense second half. Had Thomas Flogel scored with a simple header to make it 3-0 it might have been different, but as it was I spent a fair proportion of the second half pacing up and down the Parkhead toilets – and I wasn’t alone! As I finally resumed my seat, Ally McCoist pulled one back for Rangers and my stress levels soared once again. Anyway, we got there in the end, though I often wonder what would have happened if Albertz had been playing for Rangers that day; they had a fair few free kicks and, fortunately for us, Amaruso sent most of them into the stands!
I have an incredibly strong connection to Hearts Football Club, one which has now lasted for over six decades (I still find that hard to believe!). As I can no longer attend as many games as I would like, it seemed a no-brainer to maintain that connection through contributing every month to the wellbeing of Hearts. It is a truly amazing and uplifting thing that you have done.
The Foundation are grateful for Ian’s contribution. If you are interested in sharing your story in a future blog, we would love to hear from you. Email us telling us what pledging to the Foundation means to you at email@example.com.
We reported back in May that we reached the significant milestone of making the final payment of our £3m contribution to the Tynecastle Redevelopment Project. At the same time, we made our first payment to Bidco and thus commenced the final phase of the agreement to acquire a majority stake in our beloved club. Since then we’ve continued to make monthly payments to Bidco and the total advanced at the time of writing was £550k which is just over 1/5th of the £2.5m required to bring the club into fan ownership. Whilst we’re delighted with progress, we still have a long way to go and each and every pledge continues to be vital to ensuring a successful transition toward fan ownership and beyond.
Two places on our board will be up for election/re-election at our forthcoming AGM (save the date below). The election process will start in mid-October, when we will issue nomination forms to members and invite candidates to come forward. If you’re a passionate Hearts supporter and Foundation pledger and feel like you have a skillset that the Foundation will benefit from we’d encourage you to engage in the process.
An update on our Governance proposals
The final consultation period on our proposals for the future long-term governance arrangements closed on 19 September. Thank-you to everyone who has participated.
The next step is for us to firm up on the final version of the proposals. Once we have done this, we will set out the details in an explanatory memorandum and ask the members for approval of the proposals at our annual general meeting in December. Our plan is to issue all the governance papers to members at least a month in advance of the meeting.
Date for the diary – Foundation AGM
This year’s Foundation of Hearts AGM will be held at 6.00pm at Tynecastle Park on Wednesday, 19 December. The annual accounts and formal notice convening the meeting will be circulated to all members in due course.
We want to make it as easy as possible for members to contact us and receive a prompt response. We’ve created new email inboxes for specific purposes to help with that. Each inbox is manned by a different FoH representative set up to respond to your queries. The details are below:
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about your Maroon Points, including issues with the number of Maroon points displayed on our website.
Contact email@example.com for questions about plot ceremonies and membership clubs.
You can also continue to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for general FoH queries.
If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to email@example.com.