IT was all smiles as Sarah Seaman – who received life-saving cancer treatment eight years ago – cut the ribbon to officially open Cancer Research UK’s new charity superstore in Bridgwater today.
The shop, in Bridgwater Retail Park, is 8,000 sq ft and sells everything from furniture to electrical items, clothing and soft furnishings.
Sarah was treated successfully for cancer of the oesophagus after doctors discovered an 11-inch tumour after she had trouble swallowing.
The 64-year-old has never forgotten how the advances in research helped save her life.
Sarah, a retired pharmacy supervisor, said:
“Cancer is a disease which has been in my life for so long now that I feel so proud to be opening this community superstore.
“My aunty also went through cancer of the oesophagus and I remember the pain she went through many years before my diagnosis. I was told that without treatment my life would have been cut very short.
“Thanks to research I am still here and to have attended my daughter’s wedding just after finishing treatment. I have been able to watch my six grandchildren grow up, which is all down to the advances in treating cancer.”
Josephine Mewett, Head of Retail Operations at Cancer Research UK, explained:
“To save lives tomorrow, we need the public’s support today. COVID-19 has hit us hard.
“Our shops across the country typically contribute more than £25million every year to vital research. Cancer Research UK has suffered a dramatic loss of income since they were forced to close at the end of March, so to have a new superstore open in the South West is worth celebrating.”
Customers are a key part of helping to get the charity’s life-saving work back on track, so strict measures are being followed to ensure people in Bridgwater can shop, volunteer and donate goods safely.
These include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, cough guards at till points, face coverings and gloves for shop staff and volunteers, additional cleaning and a 48-hour quarantine period for donated items.
“Cancer Research UK funds nearly 50% of the cancer research in the UK. Every day, every pound counts, so I hope people in Somerset will support this new superstore so that we can help keep making new discoveries.
“COVID-19 has hit us hard and as a result we expect to see our fundraising income decline by up to 30 per cent in the financial year ahead – putting this research at risk.
“Cancer doesn’t go away during or after Covid. We are incredibly proud of our community of researchers. We support thousands of scientists and world-leading initiatives in all parts of the UK, all with the aim to improve the lives of people with cancer.”
Store manager Kate Best added:
“Money raised at this store and all the other Cancer Research UK shops, will help more people survive cancer and that’s why we need people to support it, by shopping here and donating goods.”
“As a Bridgwater resident I am delighted to be the manager here. I hope people will pop in and discover the huge range of quality items on offer at bargain prices. There’s plenty of free parking right outside, so it is easy to drop off any unwanted items to donate to us.
“We’re very happy to have Sarah declare the store open. Her story really brings home the importance of raising funds to support the charity’s ground-breaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”
“The store has a number of volunteer roles on offer from serving customers to merchandising the displays.
“People can help get our new shop off to a flying start by shopping with us, donating stock for our shelves or generously offering their time as volunteers,” said Kate.
“No matter how much time someone can give or what their experience, we would love them to get in touch. It all helps towards our goal of beating cancer sooner,” she added.
With four more retail superstores planned in the UK by April next year, the charity relies on public support to continue its life-saving work.
With around 34,800 people diagnosed with cancer every year in the south west, Cancer Research UK was able to spend over £2million in the region last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.
The Bridgwater superstore will be open from 9.30am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday.
For more information about Cancer Research UK visit www.cruk.org/shops or follow @CRUKshops on Twitter.
PHOTO: Jeff Searle