Some years ago we used to help run the Thrift Shop at Ingol and when that came to an end and ‘Welcome Wednesday’ had come to pass, it was decided we would do something similar and ‘New to You’ was born. We started in a small way with a couple of tables in a corner of Willow Grove selling assorted items and a couple of clothes rails and it was run by Eva McLaren, assisted by myself. Very soon we began to receive lots of donations of clothes, books, bric a brac, jewellery, bedding, soft furnishings ... the list is endless! We outgrew our couple of tables and racks so we spread into Oak and we now take up half the room. We sell anything apart from livestock and what we cannot sell, Eva knows someone who can!

There is a regular team with Eva at the helm, myself, Judith Harvey, Diane and Graeme Bird, Melba Southwood, Sue Harris from Ashton and Muriel Sanderson, Mavis Fletcher and Linda Foy have all helped when needed. Ray Armstrong, Alan Harvey and our caretaker Derek set the tables out and Fred McLaren, Ken Wiggins, Ray Armstrong, Alan Harvey, David Ashton, Allan Smith and anyone else who happens to be passing, all pitch in to put all the tables and chairs away at the end. We have a fantastic team and when it comes to putting away at the end, we are silk on castors!

Our prices are, what is called in modern parlance, extremely competitive and each week we usually raise an average of £100, which is truly amazing. Combined with our Table Top sales in 2015 we raised £5,449, last year £5,434 and up to November this year the amount is £5,715.

If we can’t sell it, where does it go? Clothes go to Jennifer (Cash for Clothes); baby and young children’s clothes to Yvonne (from church) who sends them out to an orphanage in her native Fiji. Bedding and soft furnishings go to ‘Gift Aid 92’; toiletries to Helen Frost for the ‘Good Goddess Project’ which supports women’s refuges in Preston and Bolton and bric a brac and anything else goes to Mick who runs a shop called ‘Chloe’s Angel’, which raises money to support a young girl with severe handicaps.

It’s hard work and when we all slump over a well deserved cuppa when all is tidied away, the money counted and put in the safe, we can be forgiven for feeling a tad smug.

Delighted as we are with raising this splendid amount of money for the church, this is not what it is all about! ‘Welcome Wednesday’ is about outreach, about providing a warm welcome to anyone who comes in and down the years we have made a lot of friends, in particular among the special needs folk who come most weeks. David Ashton is one such friend. He plays with the dominoes group, is part of the ‘demolition’ team and he now comes to worship every Sunday.

While we are beavering away at one end of Oak, the wonderful catering group are likewise working hard at the other end to produce superb food. The folk who have attended the Communion service in Cedar usually stay for coffee, lunch and a look-around our wares. It can be said that every need is catered for: worship, fellowship, refreshment and the chance of a bargain. If you haven’t visited ‘Eva’s Emporium’ or enjoyed a ‘Welcome Wednesday’ lunch, please do so, you will be very welcome.

Barbara Hothersall