Shop volunteer urges locals to show support

Shop volunteer urges locals to show support

by Tom Martin (April 2021)

A STALWART volunteer is urging people to help Southport’s Cancer Research UK shop get back to the business of beating cancer after restrictions were lifted on non-essential retail.

Grandmother and great grandmother Renee Smart, 85, has notched-up more than 30 years  service volunteering at the Cancer Research UK shop on Lord Street.

Now she is encouraging others to follow her lead and give up even just a few hours of their time each week to volunteer. And she is also appealing for lockdown de-clutterers to dig out and drop off donations at the store.

Renee knows first-hand just how important new scientific breakthroughs and discoveries are to help more people survive. She decided to volunteer at the Southport shop more than 30 years ago, after seeing an article in a newspaper saying the shop needed volunteers.

Over the decades she has lost various family members to cancer, including her father, who passed away when she was in her 20s. Her daughter is also a retired lab technician at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, where she worked in the field of cancer research for many years.

Renee said: “I absolutely love volunteering for Cancer Research UK. It’s a great way to meet new people and raise money for an important cause. The team in the shop are like family to me, and we have many friendly customers with lots of regulars. And of course I know how important research is after losing my own father to the disease.”

Its customers are a critical part of helping to get research back on track, so strict measures are being followed at the shop on Lord Street store to ensure a safe shopping experience. These include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, cough guards at till points and face coverings for shop staff and volunteers, as well as additional cleaning. Now the shop’s doors are open once again, shop manager Sarah Illingworth is hoping for a sunnier outlook and is specifically calling for donations of summer clothing ready for the Great British staycation.

She said: “COVID-19 has hit us hard. Our shops typically contribute more than £25 million each year to vital research, so we’re grateful to Renee for rallying the community to help us fight back. She gives so much time and energy to help us out and I hope her enthusiasm will inspire others to volunteer.

“We’re also calling on  everyone who’s had a spring-clean, wardrobe detox or cupboard clear out in lockdown to please bag up and bring in any unwanted items.

“Right now, we need quality clothing and shoes, ideally for this season, as well as homeware, books and accessories to help keep our tills – and bargain hunters – busy.

“Most important of all, the sale of these items helps to ensure we can keep making progress for people with cancer.”

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