88 and still going for charity

Fr Paul Bigmore with Margaret Wiltshire (l) and Joyce Hughes (r) at the shop

A church charity shop in Wales is marking its first decade in business and there to join in the celebrations are two 88-year-old volunteers who have been there since the beginning.

Joyce Hughes and Margaret Wiltshire have been part of the team running St Anne's Church shop since it was first set up 10 years ago.

It is the only charity shop in the village of Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley and its success will be celebrated this week with a service of rededication, led by the vicar of Ynyshir, Father Paul Bigmore.

Miss Hughes, a former church warden and church organist for 60 years, runs the shop one morning a week and every other Saturday.

"I like to keep busy and be active – and lifting bags of donations around and sorting them out is good exercise," she quipped. "Business has slowed for the whole high street since the bypass road was built as not so many people drive past now but we still have a steady stream of customers."

The shop is always crammed with real bargains, she says.

"We've selling baby clothes and toys which still have their labels on and have never been used," she said.

Mrs Wiltshire, whose family ran a newsagent shop in Wattstown for many years, also helps out for one morning a week and every other Saturday.

She likes the way the shop brings people together.

"I've lived in the area all my life and the community has changed – there isn't the sense of togetherness there used to be.

"That's why initiatives like this shop and other things the church runs, such as coffee mornings and our new knitting group, are more important than ever as they bring people together.

"People on their own can pop in for a chat and have somewhere to go. I am very glad I am still able to help out."

Father Paul praised the work of all the volunteers. He said, "Keeping this shop going for the past decade has been a big achievement for the parish and it has been a tremendous benefit to the local community where money is tight for many, especially during this recession.

"I am very grateful to all the people who have made it a success – those who donate and buy items and those who run the shop week after week.

"Joyce and Margaret have been remarkable. They are faithful, committed and dedicated women with more energy and stamina than most of us, despite the fact that they will both by 89 this year! I take my hat off to them!"

St Anne's Church shop will be rededicated on Thursday, April 11, at 10.30am.

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