Norwich charity Christmas card shop opens its doors

Christmas might still be a couple of months away, but a Norwich institution this week opened its doors to sell seasonal cards and boost charities - for the 45th year.

The Original Norwich Charity Christmas Card shop, which is staffed by around a hundred volunteers, has become a part of the festive fabric of the city since it first started up back in 1965.

The shop, which was one of the first Christmas card shops in the country, opened on Monday in its permanent home in The Assembly House on Monday, but was officially opened by the Sheriff of Norwich Derek James yesterday (Wednesday).

Based in the Noverre Gallery at the Theatre Street venue, the sale of cards and other seasonal items such as advent calendars, wrapping paper and tags, will raise funds for almost 30 local and national charities.

The amount raised by the shop has increased over the years and organisers said they hoped to break the �55,000 target this time around.

Ann Hodgson, chairman of the organising group, said: 'We are especially grateful to our sponsors who, together with our own fundraising, enable us to cover the costs of running the shop, so that all the money raised goes to the charities.

'In the first year of trading the shop took �2,310 and in 2009 it was �53,547. Our target for this year is �55,000.'

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Overheads are paid through donations and fundraising, so all profits go directly to the charities concerned, with no profits from sales taken into the organisation.

Sheriff Mr James said: 'This is the original charity card Christmas shop and it is a wonderful success story. It's yet another example of the rest of the country following what happens in Norfolk.

'Unlike some other charity shops, no profits from sales are taken into the organisation and almost 30 charities, local and national will be helped.

'I hope the people of Norwich and Norfolk turn out in force to buy their cards and support charities at the same time.'

Four new charities - Amnesty International, the Banyan Tree, the Norwich Lymphoma group and this year's civic charity Norwich's Rotary House for the Deaf have joined this year.

Their cards take their place alongside Age Concern, Alzheimer's Society, Break, CAB, Cancer Care (Macmillan), Christian Aid, CRUSE, East Anglian Air Ambulance, Friends of Norwich Cathedral, Independent Age, Kidney Research UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Livability, National Eczema Society, Norfolk Churches Trust, Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, Norfolk Accident and Rescue Service, NSPCC, RABI, RNLI, Save The Children, SSAFA, Unicef and We Care.

Sponsors include Archant - the publishers of the Evening News, Hawkins Holdings, Lovewell Blake and farming charity RABI.

The shop will be open seven days a week up until Saturday, December 18. It is open from 9.30am until 5pm from Monday to Saturday and from 12pm until 4pm on Sundays.