Stay connected

Frome fundraiser receives long-service award

The dedicated manager of a Frome charity shop has been recognised for her quarter-century of fundraising.

Judith Loughlin has been working in the Barnardo’s store in Kingsway Precinct for 25 years, joining in 1989 when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and the Berlin Wall was still in place.

Since then Judith has helped to turn it into one of the charity’s most high-profile shops which has been featured in national magazines, on regional television and radio, and in countless newspaper articles celebrating the value of volunteering.

The grandmother-of-three is now the charity’s longest-serving manager in the South West.

To mark such an important milestone, Judith received flowers and a certificate of appreciation.

Judith was working in a local supermarket when her mother, a volunteer with Barnardo’s, mentioned there was a vacancy for a deputy shop manager. She successfully applied and was promoted to manager the following year.

Judith said, “At the time I was simply looking for a more challenging job, but I never expected to be here 25 years later. I remember the days when charity shops were sometimes like jumble sales where the idea was to pile it high and sell it cheap, but today we’re very similar to other retailers with branding, budgets and targets.

“However, I think the main difference is the motivation of our teams. Our volunteers admit they probably work harder now than they did in paid employment, simply because they know their efforts are helping vulnerable children to turn their lives around – they know they’re giving something back to the local community.”

Judith is supported by a deputy manager and part-time sales assistant together with more than 30 volunteers aged from 14 to 84 years old. Last year they received almost 10,000 bags of donations from the local community.

The money raised – tens of thousands of pounds every year – is then used to support children and young people affected by poverty, abuse, disability and discrimination.

Judith, from Keyford, added, “It’s physically hard work but also very rewarding. I’ve enjoyed watching shoppers coming in with their children, seeing those children grow up and eventually come in with their own children.

“No two days are ever the same. Expensive donations have included a Rolex watch, diamond rings and silverware, but there have also been unusual donations including two litres of oil and half a pound of liver!

“Residents will sometimes deliver the wrong bags and are embarrassed to discover they’ve brought in a bag of household rubbish rather than a bag full of donations. The most surprising item was a live mouse hiding at the bottom of a box. But at the end of the day we’re not working to make other people rich – we’re working to enrich other people’s lives. I’m very lucky to be a member of such a fantastic team.”

The Barnardo’s shop is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sundays 10am-4pm, and welcomes donations of good-quality clothes, books, toys and games and accessories, as well as offers of help from potential volunteers. Call (01373) 463513.