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SSAFA shop reopens after makeover
12:00pm Sunday 5th August 2012 in News
ONE of the oldest charity shops in the country officially reopened after a refurbishment of its premises in Poole.
The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA Forces Help) shop has been at the same spot in Church Road, Lower Parkstone for 70 years.
Tony Erwood, divisional secretary of SSAFA Forces Help Poole, explained that former RAF Wing Commander Bob Durman had made a substantial bequest to the charity following his death in 2008 at the age of 88, specifying that the money had to be spent locally.
“We felt that by purchasing the shop, the rent we had been paying could be ploughed back into the charity to help those that need assistance,” said Mr Erwood.
“The income from the shop pays for the running of SSAFA throughout Dorset and further afield.
“It’s the only shop of its kind left.”
Last refurbished in the 1980s with money from an earlier bequest, the shop has now been given a lighter, brighter look to show off its donated wares.
Although it reopened in June, the official ceremony took place when Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Valerie Pitt-Rivers was available to perform it. The Rev Roger Bayldon blessed the premises.
Several of the volunteers who staff it have links with the armed services. Ex-police officer Mr Erwood used to be a reservist.
Merle LeBrocq, who was given an award for her 15 years’ SSAFA service, said: “I just thought it was a good charity. I absolutely love it. One gentleman said the last time he had been in here was when he was demobbed in 1945.
“He said the person he saw found him a job at Hamworthy Engineering.
“It’s an amazing shop.”
Maddie Baxter, a volunteer for the last 25 years, said: “Some of the stuff we get is absolute quality.
“Before, it looked like a charity shop and people didn’t appreciate what was in here.”
Regular customer pensioner Jean Service, recalled: “My father was in the forces in Africa for six years. My mother used to push the pram down Springfield Road with me hanging on to it to come here and get things.”