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Charity on the cards at pop-up Norwich shop

PUBLISHED: 16:51 29 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:51 29 October 2018

Volunteers ready for the shoppers as the Original Norwich Charity Christmas Card Shop opens on St Stephens Street. From left, chairman Laurel Walpole, Julie Keane, Sue Mills, and Sarah Adler. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Volunteers ready for the shoppers as the Original Norwich Charity Christmas Card Shop opens on St Stephens Street. From left, chairman Laurel Walpole, Julie Keane, Sue Mills, and Sarah Adler. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Pop-up shops are part of a 21st century trend, where an empty premises is temporarily opened for business, before closing again.

Volunteer Sue Mills with cards ready for the shoppers as the Original Norwich Charity Christmas Card Shop opens on St Stephens Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYVolunteer Sue Mills with cards ready for the shoppers as the Original Norwich Charity Christmas Card Shop opens on St Stephens Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

In Norwich, however, leading the craze, one such shop has been around for a lot longer than that.

In 1965, a small group of friends, led by Peggy Percival, the wife of the Norwich city architect at that time, negotiated the use of part of one of the city centre’s shops in order to sell Christmas cards in support of their favourite charities.

That first year £2000 was raised and the Original Norwich Charity Christmas Card Shop was established.

Fifty-three years later and the shop still opens every winter; in the intervening years having moved from one vacant premises to another.

The Original Norwich Charity Christmas Card Shop opens on St Stephens Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Original Norwich Charity Christmas Card Shop opens on St Stephens Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Pam Butcher, a volunteer at the shop for eight years, said that recently the estate agency Roche has been assisting the shop to find its temporary home. This year, like last year, it has opened on St Stephens Street, next to the Sainsbury’s Local, in the city.

Before that it was in the Royal Arcade.

Ms Butcher says that all overheads for the shop, including lighting and insurance, are provided by the volunteers, who come from the various charities the shop supports.

She refers to the lack of heating and jokes, “By Christmas we’ll be Michelin men with layers of clothes on.”

In the past, the shop has also opened in a building on Timberhill which had no toilet and nowhere to make a cup of tea, so a deal was made with the local pub, where the volunteers used the toilet and in exchange bought their tea or coffee there.

Another premises, also on Timberhill, had a kettle situated directly under the fire alarm.

The shop sells Christmas cards, calenders, diaries, gift-wrapping and candles on behalf of twenty-two charities. Some are international, like Save the Children. Some are national, such as Age UK. Others are local, including the Norwich Food Bank and the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Original’s official opening is on Thursday (November 1). The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, will lead the ceremony.

One hundred per cent of all money taken goes to charities.

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