Hadleigh's Jo Hogger launches Flowers by Jo grave tending in Suffolk
A Hadleigh business owner looking to put the beauty back into grave tending has seen her career’s second act flourish after leaving the corporate world – and she is now hoping to help others do the same.
Jo Hogger has won acclaim and the recognition of BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour since launching Grave Tending and Flowers by Jo, and she is now setting up the Association of Grave Tenders.
Her journey began as she trained as a florist after leaving the IT and telecoms sector after 36 years in 2018. Having prepared flowers for weddings, she was attracted to grave tending because of her love for cemeteries. “They are such peaceful places,” she said. “But I noticed a lot of graves were looking tired.”
Having found that many relatives were either elderly and unable to clear overgrowing shrubs, or lived too far away to visit regularly, Mrs Hogger sought to provide a bespoke service, including flower arrangements and maintenance.
She is now providing the service to graveyards and cemeteries all over Suffolk and in border towns.
Mrs Hogger, who has had training in bereavement counselling, said she was fascinated by the stories of the people commemorated.
“There was one woman who had a stillborn child 50 years ago and she had only just found out where it was buried,” she said. “It was a special moment for her.”
She added: “The reaction to it has been amazing. I have found that the service was really needed – I make an effort to put care and thought into all of the graves.
“I emailed Women’s Hour and they were really interested. Jane Garvey (the now former long-serving host of the popular radio programme) interviewed me and I got so much feedback.”
Part of this feedback was from people starting small businesses around the country. This led Mrs Hogger to feel there needed to be an opportunity for grave tenders to network and share tips.
“Being a small business can be lonely, so having a team of like-minded, passionate business owners is a joy to be part of,” she added.
For more information, go online to gravesflowersbyjo.co.uk.