A community-spirited volunteer who runs a pop-up shop selling charity Christmas cards is about to hit a mammoth milestone – helping raise a staggering £1 million.
Roger Parker, 65, has been managing the popular premises, run by the Woodbridge 41 Club Charitable Trust, since 1993.
It is open from October to December and sells cards to raise funds for a variety of worthy causes, including East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). This year it will operate from the old HSBC building in the Thoroughfare.
In Roger’s three decades at the helm, the shop has raised £988,000 so will easily hit the £1 million-mark this Christmas. The charities range from national, household names to small, local ones. The shop has been selling EACH stock since 2001, raising just short of £42,000.
“This will be my 31st year, but the shop has been running for around 40 years and was previously run by the Woodbridge Round Table,” said Roger, who retired nine years ago but previously worked for BT at Martlesham. He is a trustee of the Woodbridge 41 Club Charitable Trust, lives in Ipswich, is married to Jill and has two grown-up daughters, both based in London.
“It’s something I enjoy very much. It’s satisfying and rewarding and I’m very proud to be closing in on £1 million. It’s something I’ve had in my sights and been talking about for 15 years!
“Over the years many landlords and agents have been kind enough to let us use their empty premises. As a result, we’ve been found in many of the shops in the Thoroughfare, St Mary’s Church Centre and Woodbridge library.
“I enjoy working with so many different charities, both big and small. There are some wonderful causes out there and because we have very few running costs, almost the entire turnover goes to them.
“It’s a big team effort running the shop and I’m very grateful to all the volunteers who help in the shop, some of whom have been involved for 30 years.
“We’re also very lucky to have lots of regular customers who come back year after year. I think it’s a bit of a game for them, tracking us down and working out which empty shop we’ve taken over!
“Trends have undoubtedly changed and less people buy cards now, because of postage costs and the internet. At our peak, the shop once raised £61,500 in a year and that was in 2007.
“In the last couple of years we’ve raised just over £30,000 so while the total has dropped, it’s still a significant amount that will hopefully make a real difference.”
The pop-up shop, which is run by volunteers, opens for business on Monday, 23rd October and will close for another year on Saturday, 16th December. It will be open from 10am until 4pm Monday to Friday and 9.30am until 5pm on Saturdays.
Volunteers from the charities help man the shop and members of the EACH team will be covering six Saturdays.
“This always proves popular with our volunteers at EACH,” said Community Fundraiser Anna Bruce.
“Everyone enjoys the community aspect of it being a local shop that helps so many amazing causes. We’re always on the look-out for extra to help so please do get in touch if you’d like to lend a hand. Anyone interested can drop me a line via firstname.lastname@example.org”
The shop also sells cards on behalf of Hallo Cards as it donates ten percent of its profits to EACH.