Would you like flowers or donations?

Part 1. Would you like flowers or donations?

This statement is poignant. It’s also not mine. But I have been using it and here’s why …

I’d like to share some stories that relate to this line. I’ll do this in two parts.

The line I’m using belongs to one of my TEDxWarrington 2023 speakers – Karl Perry. His talk was about life (and death), perspective, fear, CPR and much more. I won’t divulge as you can watch his full talk (and others from the 2023 event) here. His talks repeated in my mind. I’d not told him why. In December, I was reminded again.

Above: TEDxWarrington speaker Karl Perry. Below: Heartstart First Aid course.

The lower picture features my daughter on a First Aid course. I started taking my two girls to these when they became teens. In the early years, it was more about bumps, bleeding, recovery position and choking. I wanted them to know the basics to help others and especially their much younger brother. They all have anaphylaxis so a med box sits by our front door and they need to know what’s in it. Over time though we’ve added other reasons for doing the course.

I’d not done a course for a while. Covid break I guess. But the recent TEDx talk by Karl was niggling me – and regularly. So I booked a British Heart Foundation course at the amazing Safety Central site in Lymm. Free/by donation for individuals, local and included a tour of the fire safety education centre. A no-brainer.

Whilst there, the timing of my last visit came into conversation with the instructors.

May 2018 – along with one of my best friends.

4 days after that course, my friend returned home from work and had to use CPR when she found her husband on the floor having had a cardiac arrest. She applied all her knowledge but tragically it was too late. She had called me. I missed that call as I was in a pitch for Lymm Business Centre (maybe that explains why I’m tied to making that charitable project work because it took me away from helping at an important moment). When I got to her house, the first thing she said was “I did what they showed us the other night but I couldn’t get him back”.

That day is etched on my mind. It was 8 May 2018.

8 May 2019 was the date in Karl’s talk. The day he died. But, despite all the odds, and with more luck on his side, CPR at the right moment saved him. The date hit me like a ton of bricks when he applied to speak at TEDxWarrington. And every time I’ve heard him speak since. It whispers ‘update your CPR’ (and so much more).

I cannot stress how valuable these courses are. They may not save everyone, and in fact the odds aren’t great, but they offer a chance.

Please learn CPR. And ensure it is learnt in your communities and workplaces – and not just by a single first aider.

Please send your staff on courses. Not just for your workplace but because it might save other folk or limit repercussions in their lives.

CPR is a life-skill, just like swimming or driving imho.

You don’t want to be dealing with the ‘flowers and donation’ line he describes in his talk.

Thank you Karl for reminding me that I needed to refresh my own first aid skills


Part 2. Flowery business lessons to launch 2024

What is your relationship with flowers OR growth potential OR new beginnings?

Part 2 of this flowery thought-train is shared to coincide with New Year planning.

Whilst Part 1 focused on reframing your attitude to life in the face of death and the huge importance of learning CPR, this part shares some more upbeat thoughts about new beginnings to launch 2024.

And I’d like to use flowers to illustrate some of these New Year thoughts.

And yes, there is some business relevance within my ramblings, so bear with me.

I’m a little obsessed with flowers and plants and the symbolism they represent.

I blame this on my Grandmother who used to export daffodils from the gardens of her Cornish guest house. This then coloured my mother’s hands who still applies her green-fingers to allotment-ing, floral art and gardening clubs galore.

I’m still searching for that “green gene” but involving flowers and plants in many parts of my life and business is something I enjoy.

The pictured examples are in my home and work life and for different reasons.

I’d like to share these and their relevance and learnings for business.

Photo 1 – The flowers at my TEDxWarrington event

I put in place table displays as a symbol of my presence in the room to show support to my TEDx speakers. I told them that even if they couldn’t see me watching, the flowers would be looking up at them instead.

TEDxWarrington – pre-event teambuilding by flower arranging

I often use flowers at larger events, but with a specific purpose stretching beyond an isolated visual moment. They’re not just to make the tables look pretty.

Firstly, they add sensory stimulation for all but especially those relying on other senses.

Secondly, I often get team members to flower-arrange together to help with relaxation and team-building before an event starts.

Thirdly, the foliage always comes from my Mum’s garden. It’s a small way I can involve her in my work life if we pick and arrange together.

And finally, it lets me tag on a little side fundraising or goodwill gifting; TEDx flowers this year went to local homes and the raffling of table pieces from my International Women’s Day event raised £402.81 in 2022 for the Ukraine Crisis, and £423.06 in 2023 for the Red Cross Turkey Syria Earthquake Disaster Appeal.

Flowery lesson no. 1: Small gestures count and aren’t hard to include in your work. They can promote wellbeing and any charity will say that all fundraising helps. Not bad for a little foliage and donated time.

Photo 2 – My lucky heart plant

Lucky Heart

I’ve had my lucky heart since January 2021. Given to me by someone who knows what it is to have a heart. The gift and timings of my gift were significant. I’d just received a Prime Minister’s award (for community work) and been called ‘the beating heart of Lymm’ but ironically, on the day the local news featured the story, I was headed in for minor heart surgery.

Flowery lesson no. 2: The tiniest plant in my house undoubtedly carries the biggest significance. Two years later and I’m still nurturing it. It serves as an important reminder about life, friendship, health and happiness; and that it is not always the big things that carry the most significance.

Photo 3 – The new team at Lymm Sanctuary Hub and Business Centre

For Christmas, I got them all little plants in star-shaped pots as a small gesture of thanks for being the “A-star team” that keeps LSHBC, a local charity and business centre, running each day.

A-Star team at Lymm Sanctuary Hub and Business Centre

Flowery lesson no. 3: Not all organisations have scope for big away-days or glitzy Christmas functions but recognition and thanks at any level is important to make people feel valued.

Photo 4 – A Christmas friendship poinsettia

New Beginnings

This is my friend with a Christmas poinsettia I bought her. She is the lady who bought me the lucky heart plant above. She’s also the lady who features in Part 1 . A lady who lost her husband suddenly in 2018. A lady for whom the line ‘flowers or donations’ became a reality. And a lady, who, when she asked for donations, took small comfort from seeing over £3000 raised in her husband’s name. She’s one of the people I respect most on this planet for how she has coped with tragedy and embraced new beginnings.

Flowery lesson no. 4: The New Year can give us chance to reflect. We all need useful reminders about perspective and that life can re-blossom and be beautiful, albeit different, after any hardship in life or in business.

Photo 5 – My favourite houseplants

I’m particularly proud to say I’m keeping these alive after many years of learning about what they needed.

Every plant has significance. Here are a few examples.

Finding the right environment to thrive

My lemon tree – a gift from my Mum (and yes, it has yielded several lemons and has one budding now if you look closely!)

My cheese plant – a 50th birthday gift from my sister.

My lily – the thank you gift from my TEDx team.

And my orchids – both flowering this month despite fears I’d killed them. I used to have them on show in the kitchen. They didn’t flourish. I moved them out of view to the bathrooms. No longer on show but now in the right environment for what they needed and suddenly they began to bud and flower again. For years, I have managed to kill plant after plant because I’d under or over-watered it but mainly because I’d placed it in the wrong location and didn’t understand what it needed.

Flowery lesson no. 5: Not all that is beautiful is visible and the invisible may well be thriving and ready to flower. The best life stage of a plant may be when it is a budding, rather than flowering, but how many of us appreciate this stage with our business ideas and with our staff and associates.

And so endeth’ my garbled flowery business lessons.

Used metaphorically as 2024 begins to prompt questions about purpose, health, connection, growth potential and new beginnings – in business as well as in life.

A reminder to offer the right food, environment, light and nurture to others. And to be patient too.

Encouragement to consider that maybe within our work settings, we would do well to focus less on the big flashy flowers and more on the seeds of potential that are yet to be revealed.

And that we might do well to remember that some of the best people and successes in life and in our organisations might be hidden away out of view.

And that maybe, we might consider taking comfort from knowing that if something isn’t flourishing right now, it might just need a change of position, perspective, environment or management. Consistently existing and consistently being nurtured both count.

I’ll close my flowery thoughts by wishing you new beginnings, budding with potential, at whatever time of year you read this.


Kirsty is a relationship-marketing expert with a track record in marketing project management; event organisation, facilitation, hosting and speaking; and networking skills training and strategy coaching. Kirsty specialises in effective business communication and relationship-marketing using the power of networking to enable personal and business growth and community engagement.

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