It was a proud day for Hertfordshire-based independent family funeral directors J J Burgess and Sons recently, when sixth generation proprietor Justin Burgess received a Civic Award from Welwyn and Hatfield Council.
The award was presented in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Welwyn Hatfield community and JOCA charity. Justin’s nomination came from Lord Salisbury and Lady Salisbury, John (Jack) Burgess and Eliza Burgess.
Copy taken from the nomination form outlined why Justin was put forward for this award:
“There is a general feeling in Hatfield that Mr Justin Burgess has gone way above and beyond. He did a terrific job throughout the pandemic, and he continues to do so.
“Justin created a charity called JOCA (Just One Click Away) to tackle the rising cases of depression in the UK, mainly in young men, through providing counselling, support, and guidance, all of which was utilised by many people through the pandemic.
“The need to start this charity stemmed from the death of three of his friends from Welwyn Rugby Club and it has grown exponentially through a ‘pass it on’ campaign. A JOCA branded rugby ball was given to different clubs across the county for them to hold a mental health awareness day to ease the stigma that ‘big rugby lads’ are too tough to talk about mental health, which has helped many players of all ages at rugby clubs all over Hertfordshire.
“Not only has the charity already been adopted by a further 10 clubs across different sports, but the RFU have also been looking at the idea of making JOCA a national charity to allow its effect to be felt nationwide, and to help other young men and women struggling to speak up about mental health.”
J J Burgess & Sons was founded as Funeral Directors in 1839 by James Burgess. However the family’s business roots in the Hatfield community can be traced to 1700, when the family were clockmakers, beehive makers and timber dealers. As well as its Hatfield head office, the firm has branches in Codicote, Knebworth, London Colney, St Albans and Welwyn Garden City.
The company’s stonemasonry business, Burgess Memorials, was also founded in 1839.