Welcome to our first blog of 2018. This issue includes news of our first ever Foundation Day, a personal Why I Pledge story from a familiar face as well as bulletins on what the Foundation has been working on since our last update.
Update from Foundation of Hearts Chair, Stuart Wallace
It’s great to open up our March 2018 blog with so much activity at Foundation of Hearts to report.
Our first Foundation Day is reported in quite a bit of detail below. I was fortunate enough on the day to host one of my boyhood heroes, Donald Ford. Donald kindly agreed to cut the ribbon on Foundation Plaza and it seemed fitting that a club legend and founder member of the Foundation of Hearts should have that honour. I was also joined by Bryan Jackson who along with several others put in the real hard yards to save the club back in 2014. That said, the purpose of Foundation Day was much more about thanking the Hearts support, the #legendsinthestand. We wanted to pay tribute to those who pledge and also to those Hearts fans who contribute in so many ways to the club. This day was for all of you.
As part of the day we wanted to have a highly visible presence within the stadium and to make ourselves accessible for those who wanted to start a pledge or increase their pledge. The numbers are set out below, but we have been absolutely thrilled by the reaction, including four first team players becoming pledgers. We also met with many Hearts fans on the day who simply wanted to talk about Foundation matters and it was fantastic to hear your feedback and messages of support.
During the course of the last few weeks I have also been fortunate enough to join the members of Prestonpans Hearts for their monthly meeting. I attended, along with Louise Strutt from the Foundation board and also Gary Locke who joined on behalf of the club. We gave an update on both Foundation and club matters, talked a little about our roles and responsibilities, and generally had a good chat about all matters Hearts. We concluded with an open Q&A session and the passion in the room was clear to see. We hope to do many more of these supporters’ club visits. Next stop is Craigmillar on 7 April.
I hope you enjoy the content we’ve prepared for you this month and hope to see you at one of our roadshows.
Saturday 27th of January saw Tynecastle play host to the first ever Foundation Day with a series of activities taking place to mark the amazing contribution Hearts fans have made in saving the club.
The centrepiece of the day was the official opening of the new Foundation Plaza, the impressive new space behind the main stand. Pledgers assembled to witness club legend Donald Ford cut the ribbon and to take in a pipe band playing, including a solo piper’s performance of the Hearts Song – many fans opting to join in with a whispered rendition of the chorus. It was a poignant moment and you didn’t have to look far to see how much it meant to so many. The ceremony was followed by a group picture taken from above the main stand with pledgers holding their Foundation scarves aloft with pride to mark the occasion.
Inside the stadium, pledge stations were manned, Foundation clappers were left under every seat, and the players took to the pitch wearing a special Foundation day T-shirt. Bryan Jackson, who played such a key role as administrator when the club was close to extinction, was a guest of honour and was interviewed by Scott Wilson at half time.
We’ve simply been blown away by the response to the day. More than 230 pledgers have joined the ranks or increased their pledge and we raised more than £700 from one-off donations on the day. Among those to sign up on the day were four first team players – Christophe Berra, Ross Callachan, Steven Naismith and Demetri Mitchell. Further evidence, as if it was needed, that we are all in this together.
The day, and the achievements of Foundation pledgers, were also featured in the local press.
We’d like to thank the 30+ volunteers who gave up their free time to help make the day a success – we simply could not have done it without them. Similarly, the day would have not been possible were it not for the hard work and support of officials from the club to whom we are hugely grateful. Finally, a huge thanks to Haddington Pipe Band who played beautifully at the Plaza.
For those of you who were not there in person, there is an excellent video on YouTube that captures the mood of the day which is available here.
Stadium Funding Update
At the date of publishing the blog, the Foundation has paid over £2.71m of the £3m promised under the stadium funding arrangement, taking the total advanced by the Foundation to the club to £6.76m. We are well on track to have paid the £3m before the June deadline, at which point we will commence repayment of the Bidco loan and start the process of acquiring a majority share in the club.
The 2017 Foundation of Hearts AGM took place on Wednesday 20th of December at Tynecastle Stadium. At the meeting, Chairman Stuart Wallace delivered his reflections on 2017 as well as looking forward to what would be a busy 2018. Chief among the Chair’s message was the impact our pledges continue to have: the new main stand, the Memorial Garden, the Foundation Plaza being just some of the examples. Stuart also reported that in 2018 the Board would continue to progress its thinking on future governance and also be on the front foot with regard to marketing and member attraction and retention.
An interview with Ann Budge followed Stuart’s address before the agenda turned to formal matters.
Stuart concluded by thanking those in attendance, the directors and the volunteers who supported the Foundation across 2017 and on the night of the AGM itself.
January saw the launch of a new initiative aimed at persuading existing pledgers to get their pals to sign up – with a unique piece of Tynecastle history as a potential reward.
The best advocates for the Foundation have always been existing pledgers. With this new initiative we’re giving pledgers yet another reason to spread the Foundation’s message.
So how does it work? Members can download a Pledge Pals certificate, add their mate’s name, and send it on to them.
Every pledger who successfully persuades a pal to join our ranks for the first time or restart their pledge will go into a prize draw for a very special piece of the Tynecastle pitch – the exact spot from which Rudi Skacel scored the first goal in the 4-0 win against Hibs on 7 August 2005! The process of how to enter the draw is also explained on the certificate and we intend to run this until the end of the season, so there is still plenty time to take part.
More details are available here: https://www.foundationofhearts.org/news/pledge-pals-initiative-launched/.
Why I Pledge – Club Captain Christophe Berra
As many of you will be aware, at the recent Foundation Day at Tynecastle, I took the opportunity to sign up for the Foundation of Hearts and become a monthly pledger. This honestly was a very easy decision for me. Since coming back to the club, I have come to appreciate just what an amazing community we now have here – led from the top by Ann Budge and her team and driven forward by the incredible passion of the supporters. This passion was, as we know, responsible for laying the foundations which saved the club and I want to congratulate the Foundation of Hearts and all who have pledged for turning that passion into such a constructive and positive force. I was absolutely delighted to add my contribution to this movement.
It has always been a real privilege to pull on the maroon jersey and represent Heart of Midlothian. More than ever now, though, I believe that the players genuinely understand and appreciate what Hearts supporters have achieved for the club and what they are still doing – particularly through the Foundation of Hearts – to take Hearts forward. To have such supporters behind us is more of a motivator than anything else I’ve ever experienced in my football career.
I’d ask supporters who haven’t yet signed up to the Foundation to consider doing so, if they can afford it. So many fantastic things have happened here at Tynecastle in just a few short years. As a very proud captain of the club, I truly believe that with the kind of support we have here, we can build on these successes, both on and off the field, and the Foundation of Hearts’ role in this is vital.
Finally, thank you to all the supporters who have given the team such wonderful support, and thank you to the Foundation of Hearts. Together we have a bright future which is definitely maroon.
Dates for the diary
Big Hearts Day is scheduled to take place at Tynecastle of Saturday 17th of March. Please watch the Big Hearts and club website for further announcements and information about how to get involved.
The next plot ceremony will take place on Sunday 18th of March. We continue to work through the backlog and you will be invited in the order you reached the 1,000 Maroon Points total. Your patience is much appreciated.
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.