Dental manager’s idea enriches Aspatria

To keep this column accurate, Duncan Stevenson is person of the week.

But, while he first floated the idea, the heroes this week are the many, many volunteers who have run the Aspatria charity shop.

This is a shop with a difference. Many towns have charity shops raising money for different causes but the Aspatria shop raises money for all causes in the town.

It was awarded a Queen’s Award for voluntary service in 2019 – the equivalent of an MBE.

Any volunteer-led group doing work that provides a social, economic or environmental service to the local community can be nominated for the award. Each group is assessed on the benefit it brings to the local community and its standing within that community.

The shop was set up by Mr Stevenson, a former town councillor, after hearing about a similar scheme in Scotland.

Mr Stevenson, who is the practice manager for Maryport Dental Care Services, said: “The item was about a charity shop that had been opened there not just to support a single charity but for the good of the town.

“I took the idea to a council meeting. Everyone was enthusiastic.”

The Aspatria and District Community Charity Association was formed in 1996 and has been operating ever since.

Duncan Stevenson, back right, the man whose idea has raised thousands of pounds for his town

As far as Mr Stevenson is concerned, the shop has two vital roles: the first is to keep prices low for those who cannot afford expensive clothing, household goods or things for their children.

The second important task is raising money for the community.

The shop had raised an estimated £300,000 up until lockdown – all of which had gone into local charities or organisations.

Like many other places, the shop was hit by the lockdown and ceased trading for nearly two years.

It did not reopen until the end of April last year because of the age and vulnerability of many of its members.

It is back and open again now and remains a place that is fun to browse through and to buy from, knowing that some local people will benefit from it.

And it’s all because one man heard a snippet about a town in Scotland.

Mr Stevenson still chairs the committee and is remains actively involved in the charity.


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