Making the most of flowers

Sheila Nunn is the proprietor of Elizabethan Flowers in Ipswich, and the recommended florist for both branches of Hunnaball of Ipswich. She’s worked with the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group for longer than any other florist, clocking up over 22 years, and we think she does absolutely lovely work.

She told us how the partnership began and why it continues to work so well.

“Having worked in the banking industry for 15 years, I decided to change career when my children were small. I was already an enthusiastic ‘flower arranger’, but I enrolled at Otley college to train to be a professional florist.

“In 1999, after completing my course, I delivered a floral tribute to the Dove House branch of Hunnaball of Ipswich. It was lovely, because the lady who worked there was so enthusiastic in her admiration. When I asked her who usually did their flowers, she told me that they used a florist in Colchester, so I decided to contact the head office and see if I could be of service to them as a more local florist. Melanie Hunnaball and I hit it off immediately, and I can honestly say that she was responsible for encouraging me to specialise in funeral flowers, and I’ve never regretted it.

“I’ve been their florist since then, and the girls at both branches of Hunnaball of Ipswich, Dove House and Spring Road, are lovely. We have a great working relationship and we try hard to help and support each other. Usually, the client will choose flowers from the brochure and their order will be sent to me to fulfil. Sometimes, however, families have special requests and I will talk to them and, between us, make sure that the flowers are perfect for the funeral of their loved one. Communication is so important.

“Over the years, I’ve noticed that clients have become more focused in what they want. They choose to have just one spray for the coffin top more often, rather than numerous small tributes, and I’m always happy to help. If I’m asked, I often recommend roses, because they look beautiful, come in such a lovely variety of colours, and can be enjoyed by families after the service too. My own favourite flower, however, are green bloom chrysanthemums, because I had them for my wedding.

“Like Hunnaball, I will only accept the best. I feel that if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. I’m so lucky to have a great wholesaler, who does his best to get me everything I want, delivered fresh, every day, from the Dutch auctions; although it’s been difficult with the challenges of both COVID and Brexit, which have caused the prices of flowers to increase every week. Very sadly, a number of growers have even gone out of business as a result of the pandemic, but we’re still able to supply lovely flowers, which we know help to make a sad day just a little bit brighter.

“Floristry is certainly a job of passion, and sometimes I think I should retire. But not for long, because I soon realise just how much I’d miss the job, and the people.”

We know that flowers play such an important part in commemorating a loved one. All of our branch teams are more than happy to discuss flowers with clients, and have access to local florists who are excellent at what they do. Sheila, however, is very special and we love working with her, and hope to continue to do so for years to come.