Words by George Todd, vice chairman of the Salisbury District Hospital League of Friends.
Towards the end of 2011, Salisbury Foundation Trust (SFT) advised the League of Friends that a W.H.Smith outlet was going to open in the main foyer of the hospital.
This had major implications for the league’s shop, also in the main foyer, as it sold many items which would compete with W.H.Smith.
The league’s trustees were told that the shop had either to close or come up with a viable alternative.
One of the trustees, Trevor Grant, with over 40 years’ experience in the confectionery business, suggested we could sell hand-made confectionery which he could source.
SFT agreed, and during the summer of 2012 the site of the existing shop was converted to make two shops – one for the League of Friends and one for the Stars Appeal’s bookstall. The fact that both of the hospital charities were to work side by side seemed particularly appropriate.
Mark Bell, another trustee, erected the shelving, drawers and cupboards for the new shop and his wife, Dawn, set about ordering all the necessary items to ensure the smooth running of the shop – a task she carried out brilliantly.
She also took on the role of shop manager which, most importantly, involved organising a rota of volunteers.
Fortunately, many of those who helped in the previous shop were only too happy to help in the new one – the paid staff being taken on by W.H.Smith.
Therefore, after four months, and with over two hundred varieties of sweets and chocolates as well as a wide range of sugar-free sweets, the newly designed and refurbished League of Friends shop was opened on the 19th November 2012.
Over the years since then, the shop has expanded the range of goods that they sell. Chief amongst these is the knitwear.
The League of Friends is extremely fortunate to be supported by groups of ladies who provide the shop with really lovely items – little jackets, hats, gloves, blankets, soft toys and even Christmas decorations. These are arranged very efficiently and priced by Jenny Goodship, one of the volunteers.
The shop also sells cards – some hand-made again by Jenny. It is also the outlet for My Trusty products – hand and face cream, body butter and oils – the supply of this is organised by Nicola Coombs.
For the last few years the shop has, during the pre-Christmas period, sold a wide range of Christmas cards which come via the league’s parent organisation, Attend, and which are very competitively priced.
I took over the running of the volunteer rota when Dawn left, and the current numbers are adequate, although we could always use more.
As I am now standing down, Nicola has taken over this role as well.
Most importantly, however, the mainstay of the shop is the continued sale of confectionery and, in this, Trevor has been joined by Rita Taylor.
Their work over the years has resulted in profits ranging from £20,000 to £40,000 a year, which the league has been able to pass on to the hospital.
Obviously, Covid [and the lockdown periods] affected these profits recently and, indeed, the shop had to close for over a year.
Nevertheless, business has bounced back this year and we are on target to reach well over £25,000 in profit, so we have been able to celebrate a very happy 10th anniversary.