Floral Angels, a charity re-purposing flower bouquets is helping to spread joy to others

Flowers that bring a smileIt was only when she read the letter from the women’s refuge that Frances Hunter fully realised the difference she and Floral Angels were making.

“We had made up some posies and taken them to the refuge,” she remembers. “The letter was from a lady who was staying there, saying it was the first time in her life she’d ever received flowers.”

Since delivering those first posies, Floral Angels, the charity started by Hunter, Julie Ritter and Amanda Romain, has recycled more than 20,000 bouquets from events and florists that would otherwise have been discarded. The three met on a course at a London flower school and wanted to continue working in floristry after it finished. “I’d come across a charity in the US called Random Acts of Flowers” says Hunter. The charity collected leftover blooms from florists and weddings and remade them into posies for hospitals and care homes. After visiting America in 2013 to see how the charity ran, Floral Angels blossomed.

One of the first floral designers to get on board was Shane Connolly, who holds Royal Warrants for both The Queen and the Prince of Wales and who designed the flowers for the Prince’s wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  The Duchess of Cornwall agreed to become their patron.

As their work grew, so did their reputation as they were embraced by London’s floral industry. “Florists tell us they love the fact their arrangements won’t be wasted and that they’ll go on to be enjoyed by someone else,” says Hunter. “It also helps companies minimise their eco footprint if flowers are used again.”

Eventually there were given workspace at the event florist Pinstripes & Peonies, based at New Covent Garden Market, and now have a 40-strong team. They have smaller offshoots in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Jersey but, says Hunter: “We’re 100 percent volunteer-led.”

Over the years their posies have graced hospices, care homes, the Royal Hospital Chelsea and homeless shelters. The power of flowers can be demonstrated by the reaction of those in hospices who have received Floral Angels bouquets. “Flowers do give a focus for people, we’ve been told about patients with dementia whose language skills appear to have gone then suddenly say something about their garden, or “I had roses in my bridal bouquet”, when they’ve received some of our flowers,” says Hunter. “It’s not going to feed the starving or save the world, but it does change the atmosphere and bring joy.”

Source:  Waitrose & Partners Weekend magazine