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‘Light at the end of a tunnel’: Hospice snaps up offer of shopping centre unit

WILLEN Hospice has opened a new store in the Midsummer Place shopping centre in Central Milton Keynes.

It has taken over the former Northface unit on a temporary basis after being offered the opportunity by Midsummer Place management.

It is a “unique” opportunity for the charity to raise vital funds after continuing to be severely impacted by the pandemic, the hospice says. 

Mark Rawlins, associate director of commercial at Willen Hospice, said: “We are incredibly excited by this opportunity to expand our retail presence in Milton Keynes. This will be the first charity shop to open in a high-end retail shopping centre and this will be reflected in the range we have on offer.”

The store will sell “pre-loved” and new items donated locally to the hospice, including clothing, accessories, toys and exclusive vintage and retro items.

Mr Rawlins said the hospice’s ability to raise the £4.7 million it needs every year to deliver its specialist end of life care had been hit hard by the pandemic. “Our fundraising income generated through retail and events has been severely impacted over the past 18 months.  This new store is a light at the end of a tunnel and we are very grateful to Midsummer Place for their generosity.”

Creative production company BCQ Group, based at Buckingham, has sponsored and produced the in-store point of sale, signage and digital signage.  

Midsummer Place’s general manager Shelley Peppard said: “We have always been an integral part of our local community and it is a great pleasure to welcome Willen Hospice into the centre. As we have an empty store, it seemed the perfect opportunity to help our local community. 

“Their store will give our shoppers an enhanced choice and a chance to support a very worthy cause.”

The shop cannot accept any donations due to the limited floor space available. Supporters wishing to donate should drop any unwanted good-quality, clean items at the Kiln Farm Distribution Centre.

Donation bookings can be made by visiting www.willen-hospice.org.uk/donate-items or any of the other 12 Willen Hospice shops in the area.

Mr Rawlins said: “Throughout the pandemic, our commitment to our patients has not wavered. This retail opportunity is so important to help generate vital income needed to continue delivering our compassionate care for people at the most difficult time in their lives.”

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