Ahead of the 15th anniversary of Santander Consumer Finance’s Big Build Splash Projects next year, there was mutual agreement that this year’s project, at a West Sussex hospice, should be “new, bold and push boundaries”.
And, thanks to the shared ambition and vision of Splash and Santander, and the tenacity of all 250 members of the financial firm’s volunteers, it proved to be Splash Projects’ most ambitious project to date.
Over seven days, teams created a 40-metre long ‘memory pathway’ with seating and an attractive ‘living wall’, for patients and families at St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley. The central feature of the garden was a stunning pergola which drew inspiration from the Cambridge Central Mosque.
“I’ve been coming to Santander’s Big Builds for the last 10 years and it’s the best day of the year, said Denton, a volunteer. “You look around and see what everyone’s doing and everyone’s got a smile on their faces.”
What constitutes a ‘Big Build’? The scale of the project, which is purposefully ambitious and challenging for the team, and the level of involvement in the Splash Project process: team members get involved from the get-go, from selecting the charity and consulting on the design process, to project management on the day.
On day seven, heavy rain and flooding prevented all volunteers from being able to work on the site, which had become severely waterlogged, but a reduced team of 20 carried on with determination and resilience to get as much finished as possible on the final day.
Laura Kelly, Head of Partnerships at the hospice, said:
“We have a saying that we can’t add days to life but we can add life to days. That’s an ethos that everyone who worked on this project will have seen and felt.”
Auds Stapleton, Corporate Partnership Officer for the hospice, said:
“This project has created a space for patients and their families to come outside into a beautiful, reflective, calm space.”
Graham Firmin, Technology and Transformation Director at Santander Consumer Finance, said:
“The project has given us the opportunity to work together while giving back to people who are less fortunate.”
Jacqueline Thomas, Strategic Partnership Manager at Santander Consumer Finance, said:
“This is a really special project and create a lot of special moments for a lot of people for a long time.”
Anita, Financial Crime Officer at Santander, said:
“It’s been muddy and wet, and the weather threw up a lot of challenges, but everyone got on with it and this showed how much they cared.”
Splash Projects designer Dan Pooley, who came up with the design after close consultation with both the charity and Santander’s committee, added:
“There are design elements we’ve never done, such as the bridge over the pond, the curving wall and the pergola. Both the charity and Santander’s committee were so committed and enthusiastic and gave me great feedback throughout the design process.
“The arches of the pergola are like trees. The idea is that your eyes are lifted from the ground, giving you a sense of space and upliftment.
“It was a really hard build. It was a big ask!”
St Catherine’s Hospice is for people in West Sussex and East Surrey when life comes full circle. The charity pioneers standards in end-of-life care through collaboration, research, and training.
The Splash Project was part of their £19.5m new build venture and was funded by Santander Consumer Finance, with the charity donating £9,000 to make it happen.