HUNSTANTON: Fury at order to shut charity shop
Volunteers who set up and run a shop to raise thousands for the Royal British Legion are furious the national organisation has told them to close it.
Five shops bear the name of the charity for servicemen and women and their families and the organisation has said it cannot viably ensure statutory requirements are being met.
Norfolk’s only Royal British Legion (RBL) shop – in Westgate, Hunstanton – opened in July last year and is on target to generate £13,000 for the ex-services charity in its first year.
Angela Green and her husband Kevin put up £2,000 of their own money to launch the shop, which is entirely voluntarily run. She said she was notified by letter that the national RBL wanted it shut down, but she is refusing to do it.
She said: “We can’t see any argument in the letter that we are not conforming with.
“All we wanted to do was raise as much money for the Legion as possible. Are they now telling us ‘stick your money, we don’t want it?’ We are quite upset by the way we feel we have been treated.
“We have no intention of closing whatsoever.”
Mrs Green believes the entire committee of the Hunstanton RBL branch will step down if the shop is forced to close. Many of them have served the charity for a huge swathe of their lives.
Kay Arnott, 86, of James Street, Hunstanton, is one of a team of eight volunteers who keep the shop open five days a week.
She has been a member of the RBL for more than 50 years.
She said: “Are they going crazy? How can they refuse money? Especially when it’s not costing them a penny. I just cannot fathom where this is all coming from. I’m just devastated.”
David Foulkes, 71, of Park Road, Hunstanton, has raised £24,000 for the RBL since 2001 and occasionally helps out in the shop.
He said: “It’s only there for one reason and that is to help our wounded soldiers who come back from war.”
A statement from the national RBL said an audit of all the shops had highlighted issues relating to “statutory requirements, health and safety, fire regulations and employment law.”
It added: “The viability of continuing to run such a small number of shops and meet the statutory requirements has been questioned and as a result the Royal British Legion has taken the decision to close the shops.”
However William Kerr, RBL’s Norfolk chairman, said he hoped a resolution could be met and thanked everyone for supporting the shop.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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