Next month, the Willow shop in Welwyn Garden City celebrates its first birthday. Manager Victoria Barrett celebrates year one:

"Life is never dull working in a shop – especially one like the Willow Charity Shop in Welwyn Garden City. I can hardly believe that it is nearly a whole year since we opened.

In the beginning we had to make a huge leap of faith – we had our lovely shop and we had stock donated from all of our lovely colleagues; but we also had a lot of competition being in a town centre. There were times when we were desperate for donations of anything, just to get fresh stock out – and the most welcome sight is the donation box outside the shop full to the brim!

The next challenge was volunteers… and we could never have dreamed of the response that we got. We always need people to offer their time to help us run the shop and we are so lucky with the volunteers we have here in WGC. What is great is the variety of people that in another life you may never have met and the fact that no shift is ever dull as people take time to work, chat, listen, support one another and laugh with one another.

I always think that a charity shop is a bit like a department store. The sheer number of designers and styles and genres that we have in the shop on a day to day basis is huge – so why would you want to go from shop to shop when we have it all under one roof? One of the best games that we play is the donation of the day. We all decide which item that has been donated deserves to be voted the best that day – and we have had some fabulous items. I recall the Fendi bag that took about 12 minutes to sell after we posted it online, a Ted Baker soft brown leather hand bag that two customers nearly came to blows over; Kurt Geiger thigh high boots (enough said), Versace jeans that spent five minutes on the rail before flying out the door and the gorgeous silver jewellery that was donated by one of our kind Willow sponsors, Oliver Bonas. Whatever your style is, however you choose to dress, we can most certainly offer you an amazing selection of clothing for women and men.

We are also lucky enough to have some of the most fabulous bric-a-brac in town (if I say so myself). Today saw a donation of the biggest Denby teapot I have ever seen. It arrived in a part house clearance and even though it was unwrapped, I opened it with glee to find it in perfect condition. After processing a large number of bags from the same very kind donor, it was tempting to pop on the kettle and give it a test drive!

What a first year we have had, thanks to the amazing donations from the people of Welwyn Garden City and the volunteers who continue to give on a daily basis and make our jobs just so much more fun. We raise our tea cups to you!"

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