June 16, 2020 • News5 min read

An interview with the founders of Thankful Hearts

We chatted to the co-founders of Thankful Hearts about how they created a brand and a symbol that helps the public show their continued appreciation for the NHS, even after the clapping stops.

  • Last week we announced our partnership with not-for-profit company Thankful Hearts, which was founded by four passionate creatives in May 2020 with a mission to remember, support, and heal the NHS in a post-lockdown UK. We caught up with the founders virtually to find out more about their experiences of creating the Thankful Hearts symbol and their plans for the future.

  • Who are you and tell us a little about yourselves?

    We are Chris, Emily, Alex, and Westley. Three small families who share similar passions, and we’ve wanted to work together for some time.

  • We met through professional networks around eight years ago and have stayed in touch through various different projects but have never really had the chance work on an initiative together, until now.

  • We all have day jobs that take up so much of our time and children and pets that take up even more so it’s fantastic we’ve been able to use our time in lockdown to do something that we are all proud of.

  • What’s your professional background?

  • Chris and Emily are husband and wife who are both creatives. Emily is a Senior Designer who runs a small agency called Wet Dog Creative, specialising in high volume reproduction and creative services. Chris has worked in brand studios for over 10 years as a Creative and Brand director.

    Alex owns an award winning creative agency called Obviously Creative who specialise in the film industry working with clients such as Sony and the BBC.

    Westley is a Director at Morgan Alexander, a cutting edge estate agent based out of Hertford.

    What prompted you to found Thankful Hearts?

Like most of the UK we were all reading the stories about how the NHS and their staff were working around the clock to deal with COVID-19. It was actually a phone call from a doctor on LBC that really struck a cord with each of us and sparked conversations on what we could do to help.

There were campaigns already emerging like Clap for Carers and the NHS rainbows appearing in every window, all creating an amazing contribution and messages of support for the NHS, but we couldn’t help but think about what happens when it all stops, would we forget?

Drawing of a rainbow in a window

Watching the public rally around what is often an under-appreciated NHS and the response from those on the frontline, was a display of unity and hope that we hadn’t seen in our lifetime. We got to talking about how we could use our skills and contacts to build something together that would help us to symbolise all of this amazing public spirit and unity.

  • How did you create the symbol that represents Thankful Hearts’ aims and values?

  • As creatives and brand specialists we found it incredible how quickly communities built brand awareness using the rainbow of hope, however it also felt like a real opportunity to bring consistency to this brand to symbolise this time.

    Initially we started out with some basic designs to represent gratitude and thanks, similar to that of the rainbow but as our story began to build and we started to realise the values, purpose, and mission of our campaign, we soon realised that we needed a symbol that had a nod to those activities but represented so much more.

  • Our symbol had to look back in remembrance but also remind us that this wasn’t going to be over for a long time. A reminder that the world was changing and that there would be people living with the consequences of such an event for many years to come.

    Our values of Hope, Thanks, Healing, and Support were born, and we began to design more logo designs around them. We played about with shapes and colours trying to represent the NHS in its most simple format. As soon as we landed on the plaster folded into a heart, we knew we had the perfect symbol to represent our campaign.

  • Thankful Hearts symbol on yellow background

    We actually tested the first run of stickers on our kids to see if it would relate to them. It was an instant hit and now we have Thankful Heart stickers all over our houses, cars, mobiles, and laptops!

  • City Pantry is a B2B platform. How do you think businesses can show their appreciation for the NHS?

  • It’s so important that businesses don’t take for granted what the staff at the NHS have had to sacrifice to help keep their employees safe and able to work.

  • For so many businesses our employees will begin to return to work and our lives will go back to some sort of normality, but for those on the frontline their lives will never be the same. Many of us have worked for big companies and we know how important it is that you value your staff and their wellbeing. 

We’ve seen businesses doing some amazing campaigns that have raised millions in donations for various causes and it really does remind us of what we can do when we work together. We believe the Thankful Heart is about more than donations and that’s why we think it’s so important that companies just like City Pantry continue to show support for the NHS to other businesses in order to spread the message far and wide.

Four colourful bottles against a blue background. Each has a Thankful Hearts or City Pantry logo on it
We’ve been supporting the public, the NHS staff, and other businesses with kid’s packs, social assets, and digital materials to create events, mini-campaigns, staff initiatives, and internal communications packages that all help to keep our message alive.

If any businesses want our help with ideas or have been inspired by our story we’d love to hear from them to see how we can support one another.

  • What’s been the best moment you’ve experienced since launching Thankful Hearts?

  • There have been so many rewarding and emotional moments throughout the past few months.

  • One highlight that comes to mind was a story we received from an NHS Senior Nurse Manager who had come across the Thankful Hearts page on Facebook. She reached out to us to tell us how reading our story had really resonated with her and her ward staff. She worked on a children's ward at Royal Preston Hospital and told us how the children had often been scared and upset by them having to wear PPE. She thought our stickers would help her staff to calm the children and encourage them to speak to them. They’ve also downloaded and printed our free kids activity pack to give to the patients. They don’t receive funding for things like this so she was incredibly humbled by our direct support.

  • The fact that the Thankful Heart had organically reached NHS staff and they thought that it was something that they could use to help in their day-to-day job, was really rewarding. She also asked for stickers to give to staff to help lift their spirits so we came up with a more permanent badge design which they can now wear on their uniforms. We’ve now offered these free badges and stickers to NHS trusts all over the country as a way of directly giving something back. 

  • What does the future hold for Thankful Hearts? Do you have any other campaigns in the pipeline?

Our ambition is to make the Thankful Heart the symbol of remembrance for the COVID-19 pandemic. We are always on the lookout for new partnerships and currently working on new products such as pin badges, t-shirts, and corporate gifts to help fund the campaign.

We’re currently speaking with some of the other causes, campaigns, and businesses who have been involved in supporting those most affected by the pandemic. 

Our hope is that we are able to make this an annual remembrance event where we once again show our Thankful Hearts to the NHS and each other.


If you'd like to find out more or buy Thankful Hearts stickers please visit www.thankfulhearts.co.uk 💛