Charity shop celebrates anniversary

A CHORLEY charity shop and its dedicated team of volunteers are celebrating their 15th anniversary of trading in the town and raising more than half a million pounds for charity.

Six of the 28 volunteers at the British Heart Foundation shop in Market Walk have supported
the store since it opened in November 1996, clocking up almost 100 years of volunteer work between them.

One of them is Connie Ingham, 78, from Brinstall, who started volunteering at the shop just two months after her husband Cyril died suddenly from a heart attack, aged 63.

Connie, a grandmother-of-four and great grandmother-of-two, said: “It is devastating and unbelievable when you lose a loved one so suddenly to a heart attack.

“I cannot explain how you feel but you feel you have died as well. For me, the hardest times were at night when it would hit home to me that Cyril was not coming home and it was horrible.”

She added: “When I left the house that morning, he closed the garage door for me and then suddenly he was gone. That was the last time I saw him alive. He had taken early retirement and had only been finished nine weeks. There was absolutely no warning at all that it was going to happen.”

Following Cyril’s death, Connie received some money from the firm her husband had worked for and she decided to donate all of it to the British Heart Foundation.

She said: “When the man from the British Heart Foundation came to collect the money, he told me about the new shop opening in Market Walk and would I be interested in volunteering. But I had just lost my husband and I wasn’t really interested in anything. But a good friend of mine said she would come with me and persuaded me to go along. I have been working there ever since.”

Connie has also been helping her partner Tom through his own battle with heart disease following a recent bypass operation.

The British Heart Foundation is a national charity which works to prevent people dying prematurely from heart disease. Money raised goes towards pioneering research, vital prevention work and care and support for people living with the disease. From funding specialist nurses to raising awareness about the causes of heart disease, the charity, which has been running since 1961, gives a wealth of support to health professionals and families battling the disease.

Manager of the Market Walk shop, Suzanne Ellis, has worked full time at the store since it opened and said they simply could not survive without the support of their volunteers.

She said: “They are all very dedicated and committed people and I couldn’t run the shop without them. They are very precious to us and that is why we look after them.

“We fill them up with tea, coffee, biscuits and sweets and we all get on very well. It is more like a family than a shop.

“We all get through our problems in life together and look out for one another. They are just a lovely team to work with.”

Suzanne also praised her Chorley customers who continue to visit and buy from the shop raising vital funds for the national heart charity.

Suzanne, 55,a mother-of-one from Clayton-Le-Willows, whose own mother, Barbara, suffers from heart problems and has to have regular checks, said: “We have very loyal, regular customers in Chorley, which keeps the shop going, but we are always after more stock.

“Market Walk is a good spot for us because it has a good footfall  which keeps the shop busy and since Poundland opened, we have noticed even more customers, especially on a Sunday which has
traditionally been a quieter day for us.”

Ian Mousdell, Market Walk manager, said: “It is heart warming to hear of the support the British Heart Foundation shop has from its dedicated band of volunteers and the many loyal customers who come to Market Walk and visit it.

“It is a very important cause and we all look forward to the shop’s inclusion in Market Walk for another 15 years.”

Christmas cards and gifts are on sale now at the British Heart Foundation shop in Market Walk. To find out more about volunteering at the Chorley shop, call 01257 231702.

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