Children’s hospice Rainbows opened its new charity shop in Harborough yesterday morning (Friday) with patron and snooker personality Willie Thorne on cue to do the official honours.
Also in attendance were the hospice’s chief executive Geoff Ellis, mascot Bow Bear and Harborough MP Sir Edward Garnier.
The Loughborough-based hospice cares for youngsters from across the East Midlands with life-limiting or terminal illnesses.
Its new shop is at 4 Coventry Road, the former home of Expressions Framing and Gallery, which closed last autumn after owner Malcolm Lever-Jones retired.
The charity used to have a shop in Harborough, from 1998-2006, but it was forced to close down due to rent rises.
Rainbows supporter Colin Basse (68), of Market Harborough, was one of those in attendance for the opening yesterday. His late wife, Liz, managed the previous Rainbows shop in town.
Colin said: “I think it is good to see Rainbows back in town and I am sure they will do very well. My late wife managed the old shop so I have been involved in Rainbows for a long time and it is a charity that I always have a soft spot for.”
Shopper Julia Taylor (34), of Market Harborough, said: “There are lots of great things, especially toys. I am really impressed with the range of things there is, it doesn’t feel like a charity shop. It is really lovely and I will definitely be back.”
Another shopper Shelia Tebbutt (80), of Market Harborough, picked up two children’s coats for £5 on the opening day, and said: “It is very nice and great value. It is a really lovely shop and a welcome addition to the town, Rainbows is a lovely charity.”
Sir Edward said: “I have visited Rainbows Hospice in Loughborough before and until you go there, it is very difficult to realise how much they do and how valuable the charity is for the children and young people, and also for their parents and families.
“I hope my constituents will come and donate and buy things. People in Market Harborough do benefit from Rainbows and this charity doesn’t work without people’s help.”
Cllr Dr Paul Bremner, a Harborough District Council ward member for Harborough, said: “I think it is a wonderful addition, full of colour and it is a fantastic opportunity for Rainbows to raise funds.
“A lot of families are also feeling the squeeze, so charity shops like Rainbows are a chance for people to get clothing and other items at a competitive price.”
When the Harborough shop closed in 2006 it was the last one remaining in the county but now the charity has three other outlets in Melton and Blaby in Leicestershire and Matlock in Derbyshire.
The new Harborough shop is being managed by Jill Atkins with Kayley Parker as deputy.
Karen Bilsby, head of retail at Rainbows, said: “It is fantastic that we have been able to open our fourth shop. Market Harborough has a fantastic community spirit and we are very excited to be here.
“We used to have a shop in the town but unfortunately due to the economic climate, we had to close. We are now delighted to be back and we hope that people will join us at our open celebrations and continue to support us in the future.”
Snooker legend Willie said: “It is great to see a Rainbows shop in Market Harborough. I hope people in the town come along and support the vital work that Rainbows carries out for children and young people across the East Midlands.”
To help keep stock replenished, the charity is on the look-out for donations of clothing, toys, games, bric-a-brac and books to sell in the shop.
Selling clothes worth £10 could help to fund two days’ worth of oxygen for a child, £25 could help fund one hour of physiotherapy, and donating clothes worth £50 could go towards one day of care for a child or young person, the charity said.
The Harborough shop would not be able to run without the support of volunteers and Rainbows needs about 25 volunteers for each of its shops.
To recruit volunteers, the charity held a Volunteer Day at Harborough Theatre on Wednesday. Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering can contact Paul Holden on 01509 638059.
For more information about Rainbows shops, visit www.rainbows.co.uk/shops.
Story by Alex Blackwell.