TWO patients performed the ribbon-cutting duties as one of the borough’s biggest charities threw open the doors of its latest Wigan shop.
John Hardman, from Winstanley, and Walter Shone, from Leigh, did the honours as Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) celebrated the opening of its new town centre store on Hope Street.
Both men are currently being treated by the Hindley-based charity and were given a glass of bucks fizz before allowing the first shoppers into the new store.
The latest addition to WLH’s network of charity shops also breaks new ground as the two-storey retail facility contains a new Occasions department offering outfits for special events such as weddings, christenings and milestone birthdays.
Kate Gaynor, WLH retail manager, said: “It was wonderful to have John and Walter with us today to do the honours and officially open our new shop.
“The hospice’s network of shops has now grown to 13 across the borough and raises over £600,000 each year for the hospice so they are such a valuable source of income for us. Our new shop has enabled us to expand our range and take on a bigger and more prominent shop.
“We hope people will come to see for themselves the fantastic range of products we have on sale in the run-up to the Christmas party season.”
John, 65, was referred to the hospice a couple of weeks ago and spent a week on the in-patient unit at the charity’s Kildare Street headquarters before being discharged home.
He was diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer six years ago and is continuing to bravely battle the disease after the first prognosis suggested he had between nine and 18 months to live.
He said: “When I was first referred to the hospice I was really worried but I quickly realised what a wonderful place it is and I left feeling in a much stronger and more comfortable state than when I arrived.
“I felt very honoured to be invited to open the hospice’s new shop in Wigan and felt a bit like a celebrity.”
Walter, 67, has been a patient of the hospice since May and receives regular palliative treatment for prostate cancer from Hospice in Your Home volunteer Vicky Wilcox, also seeing a nurse specialist when required.
He said: “I was delighted to be asked to open the hospice’s new shop as they have supported me for several months now. The Hospice in your Home volunteer service is such a lifeline to me. I really enjoy my visits from Vicky. She makes me laugh and we always have a good chat.”
The new charity shop has furniture and clothes on the ground floor and the new Occasions section providing outfits including bridal dresses and mother-of-the-bride wear.