FORCE shop comes of age in style

The award-winning FORCE Cancer Charity shop in Heavitree celebrates its 21st birthday on April 24 and will mark its coming of age with a day of festivities.

On Saturday April 23 there will be special offers throughout the store, a bake sale from 11am and a raffle.ANNA HEARD, FORCE shop manager

“We’re looking forward to a fun day,” said FORCE Shop Manager Anna Heard (pictured).

“We’ll even offer a 20 per cent discount to anyone shopping in interesting or unusual headwear!”

Since it first opened in 1995, the FORCE shop has achieved a turnover of nearly £4m and a net profit of more than £2m.

It provides a vital income stream for the charity, which offers free, face-to-face support to anyone locally affected by cancer.

FORCE fundraiser Mervyn Hayes, who celebrates 25 years with the charity in 2016, first proposed opening a charity shop in Heavitree.

We created something very different

“With the help of numerous volunteers we created something which was very different from the shops operated by our competitors. No expensive fitting out, no goods bought in, lots of small, interesting, themed areas and the outside yard was roofed in to provide space where we could display hundreds of low priced miscellaneous items for sale. We also made a book room with well over two thousand books on display,” recalls Mervyn.

“From the start we managed to strike a positive chord with our customers and with their loyal support along with a steady supply of generously donated FORCE Shopgoods and a fantastic team of staff and volunteers we have been fortunate to have a shop which is, and has been for many years, the most successful small charity outlet in the country. We are all very proud of this achievement,” he added.

The shop, which closed for a few weeks last year to undergo a programme of refurbishment, has consistently won Charity Retail Association awards as the most profitable in its category since 1999.

It helps enable our charity to fund research at the University of Exeter Medical School and at the RD&E, buy state of the art equipment for the hospital to help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and run our Support and Information Centre, which had more than 20,000 visits last year alone.

FORCE needs to raise around £1.2m each year to maintain those services.