After nearly 40 years the West Wittering Thrift Service held its last trading day at the West Wittering Memorial Hall on Friday, April 26.
Competition from the growing number of charity shops meant the thrift service was no longer taking in enough to cover its costs, so the sad decision had to be made to close.
Established in 1975 primarily to support the operation of the Memorial Hall, the West Wittering Thrift Service grew into a large-scale charitable project selling unwanted clothes, shoes, books, DVDs, CDs, household items both large and small, and children’s toys and clothing. Every Friday afternoon, closing only for Good Friday, Christmas and the two West Wittering Players productions each year, the thrift service would open its doors to the public. The car park was usually overflowing, the hall was full of people and trading was always brisk. The business model was simple: people brought in their unwanted items (they always had to be in very good condition) and when the item was sold they collected 70 per cent of the proceeds, with 30 per cent being donated by thrift to various local charitable causes.
The thrift has always been manned by volunteers, and every Friday these admirable men and women had to wheel and carry everything out of their store into all three rooms of the Memorial Hall, then man the various ‘departments’, and finally take back to the store everything unsold together with fresh items brought in that day. This was a big commitment, and some of the volunteers (not many of whom were exactly in the first flush of youth) performed this service every week for over 15 years!
Since 1975 the service has donated some £54,000 to various local charities such as the Apuldram Centre, Snowdrop Trust, First Responders, Manhood Mobility and St Wilfrid’s Hospice, as well as to the Memorial Hall itself.
That is a magnificent effort, and I would like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the wonderful men and women who devoted so much of their time and energy to making this remarkable organisation such a success. It would be invidious to single out those individuals who gave so much over the years but they know who they are, and the people of the Witterings, and indeed all over the Manhood Peninsular, owe them and all the thrift volunteers a huge vote of thanks.
West Wittering Memorial Hall