Hospice furniture showroom wins award for creativity and innovation

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A charity furniture recycling showroom has won a national award for its creative work.

Returned to Glory, the Hospice of St Francis’s furniture and upcycling showroom has scooped the prestigious Specialist Shop of the Year award at the national Charity Retail Association Awards.

The pre-loved furniture showroom, in Northbridge Road, Berkhamsted, beat off stiff competition from a total of 380 charities across the UK invited to make submissions - and staff are thrilled.

Francesca Alden, manager of the stylish home emporium and herself an interior designer, received the award from TV comedienne Sara Pascoe at the Charity Retail Association’s annual conference at Keele University in Staffordshire on Monday, June 29.

She said: “It’s so exciting to have won this award and to prove that by being creative and innovative we have been able to substantially contribute to raising funds for the work of the hospice.”

Area manager Sarah Coles added: “I am thrilled for Francesca and her team who have worked so hard to make Returned to Glory the huge success that it is. Their design-led approach gives an innovative spin on charity retailing.”

The showroom, which is a key part of the Berkhamsted charity’s retail portfolio on top of its six High Street shops, number twenty gift shop in Lower Kings Road and online eBay store, opened in 2013.

The charity, which had previously been unable to accept furniture donations through their shops, recognised they were missing a commercial opportunity.

It offers 2,500sq ft. of selling space and collaborative relationships with fabric designers have enabled it to incorporate donated designer fabrics in upcycling projects, re-inventing furniture to make it both desirable and unique.

The showroom also acts as a venue for pop up shops, valuations, design events and Autentico specialist paint workshops and offers customers a free furniture collection service, which is very popular.

The award comes hot on the heels of the showroom’s successful design weekend in early June, which saw keen customers queuing early and one lady even postponing her holiday to snap up one-off designer pieces at a snip. The event made £5,000 in the first hour.

All funds raised support the work of The Hospice of St Francis, which cares for people with life-limiting illnesses across Herts and Bucks and provides support for their carers and families. The charity relies on voluntary donations for 80% of its £4.8m annual running costs, with only 20% coming from the NHS.

The awards ceremony, now in its eight year, is held by the Charity Retail Association (CRA), the only body in the UK that represents the interests of charity retailers. The CRA represents 80% of charity shops in the UK.

Generating £290m per year in profit and harnessing the skills of more than 213,000 volunteers nationwide, charity retail promotes charitable causes and an environmentally sustainable retail experience. It is this achievement which is being celebrated.

Martin Blackwell, Chief Executive, Charity Retail Association said: “The Charity Retail Association is showcasing the excellent work being undertaken in the country’s charity retail sector. These awards always bring forward amazing stories of creativity and dedication and this year’s awards were overflowing with innovative ideas and inspiring people.”

Returned to Glory is always in need of furniture and homeware donations to sell and upcycle. Please drop them off at the shop or call 01442 874356 to arrange for a free home collection for larger items.

For more information call 01442 874356 or email : returnedtoglory@stfrancis.org.uk Facebook/Returnedtoglory