Tales From a Charity Shop - October
Val Howson was born and brought up in Hunslet, Leeds and has for 22 years run the Salvation Army’s Care and Share Centre (virtually a Charity Shop) in Little London (Meanwood), Leeds.
She recalled her upbringing in a socially-deprived area of Leeds and starting her working life at the age of fifteen in Marshall and Snelgrove’s Department Store.
Val subsequently held various jobs and after being made redundant at 53 a friend brought to her attention a Salvation Army advert for someone to open and develop their Care and Share Centre in Meanwood. The interviewing officer confided to Val that he had never interviewed anyone before but since Val was an expert interviewee she was able to talk him into giving her the job.
Interesting items brought in for sale ranged from a caravan, a one eyed Armadillo and a sex toy! They sold the caravan and the one eyed Armadillo but they still have the sex toy if anyone would like it!
Everything for sale has set prices - all items above the waist are £1.50 and everything below £2.00. She recalled selling a standard lamp to an old man for £2 which had had part of the pole chopped off. Some time later he returned and gave her a £20 note, telling her that in the war he was a fireman and was based in Hull. After he and his colleagues had spent the whole night putting out fires they went to a tiny caravan where two Salvation Army ladies were making tea for everyone. He told Val that he had not paid for that cup of tea so wanted to do so now.
Two memorable customers were a teacher, Precious, from Zambia, whose husband was a Minister, and her Aunt Agnes who visited each year. Precious first came in with two little girls and bought a Christmas tree and later 83 spinning tops which she sent to her church in Zambia. These were sold and the proceeds used to buy milk for the HIV babies living in a hostel near the Church. Precious always said she only ever went to two shops in Leeds – Morrison’s and the Salvation Army Care and Share.
A local Headmaster donated boxes of new tee-shirts and sweatshirts from his school which was closing down, and these too went to Africa. Photographs were on display of children in an African village proudly wearing tee-shirts and sweatshirts with the name William Shakespeare School: Harehills: Leeds.
Lots of Christmas trees were sold, returned after Christmas, stored and then re-sold the next year. A regular customer was a devout Muslim but he always sent Val a Christmas card with a nativity scene on it because he knew the Salvation Army was a Christian Charity. Another regular customer, possibly a student, first came in and bought a mug, plate, knife and fork for 50p and later a Christmas tree which he told Val was the first one he had ever had, that he treasured it and that it had seen him through the high and low periods of his life.
Val said that if anyone comes in on their own the staff make a point of speaking to them and giving them the opportunity to talk, as many people just come in for the social interaction because they are lonely.
Val gave a most interesting and heart-warming talk and I think we all felt that a visit to the Salvation Army’s Care and Share Centre in Little London, Leeds, would be one worth making.
Owing to cancellation of the advertised programme for November 8th, our speaker this month was good friend of the Harrogate Fellowship, Roger Oldfield, who was introduced by Jill Pullman.
Roger stepped in at short notice to give an interesting Powerpoint presentation about Rights of Way and the Dales Way Long Distance Footpath.
Centuries old footpaths, which sometimes become minor roads, are known as Rights of Way and are now protected by English Law. Sometimes access to the old lanes and footpaths are found to go directly through property, others across fields and through hedges but are all protected by Law.
Colin Speakman has to be thanked for his planning of the Dales Way, allowing everyone the right to walk, without fear of trespass, from Ilkley to Windermere - 80 miles of open countryside passing by Addingham, Bolton Priory, Dent and Sedburgh and many more all of which are a delight to see. There were many historic buildings illustrated, but the main impression was in the joy of open country. Some places were unfamiliar but the lovely slides gave rise to nostalgia for happy hiking!
Roger was thanked for his absorbing talk by Mary Bradley.