December the 18th 2018
Oh Joy of Joy, at long last the Charity Commission has granted Mister Gees Foundation charitable status. The registered number is 1181204 and full details will be available on their website within the next 48 Hours.
December the 1st 2018
December the 1st, another year enters its last month and although I’m sure that there has been more than Brexit happening in 2018 looking back it would be hard to believe.
Here at the Foundation this last twelve months has been taken up trying to convince the Charity Commissioners and HMRC that none of the money raised in the shop is finding its way into my or anybody else’s back pocket. To this end they have insisted that two more independent trustees be appointed, taking the number to five.
The latest submission seeking charitable status has just been lodged; the first application was made in May 2017 and has been dragging on ever since, now I’ve been told to expect a five to six month wait before a final decision is made.
To date the process has taken so long that even the forms have changed and the trustees have had to fill out and sign the revised ones as well as providing proof to HMRC that I am a fit and proper person not to be paying VAT, something that never bothered them when I was collecting over one million pounds of it each year on their behalf.
Should the commissioners and HMRC decide in their infinite wisdom that the Foundation does not qualify for charitable status and zero rated VAT then I shall have to rethink the whole operation as having been an unpaid tax collector for over fifty years I do not wish to spend the rest of my days still being one.
Some good news is that Companies House has accepted the change of name for the trading company that will now operate the shop on Warwick Parade and also the change of specific objects which hopefully, although more woolly than before will satisfy the Charity Commissioners.
The specific objects now state that all of the profits made by the trading company will be given to the foundation for use at the discretion of the trustees.
November the 12th 2018
It is amazing that yet another four weeks has passed since I last updated this page with the shop passing two milestones during this period.
The first full year of trading has passed and for the very first time the two thousand pound week barrier has been broken, well and truly broken, with over two thousand two hundred pounds worth of sales last week.
The latest financial reports have been published and yet another letter written to the VAT man outlining changes to the company name and specific objects in order to hopefully satisfy the Charity Commission once and for all.
If all of the above fails I don't quite know what to do next.
At long last the rear office has been re-arranged in order to cope with the PAT testing and the E-bay sales that we can hopefully concentrate once more and clear the backlog of items that has built up.
The next four weeks takes up up to Christmas and it will be very interesting to see how this year compares with last year sales wise.
October the 15th 2018
The latest financial report has just been published.
October the 10th 2018
Yesterday the Maldon & Dengie CAMRA gave the foundation a cheque for £ 100.00 this takes the total sum of money raised at the beer festival t0 £477.52
October the 8th 2018
I'm pleased to announce the result of the competition to “guess his firkin weight” that took place during the South Woodham Ferrers 7th Beer festival held at the village hall last week.
The winner of the yard glass and 12 litres of Crouch Vale award winning Amber Ale was Mr Michael Drane of South Woodham Ferrers who was spot on with his estimate of 3.736 firkins.
The computation used was as follows:-
Mister Gees weight as of 21st September verified by Dr John Cormack of Greenwood Surgery was 154.4 kg
One Firkin is 9 Gallons which equals 40.915 Litres
40.915 Litres of Water weighs 40.915 Kg
The specific gravity of Amber Gold Beer is 1.01
Therefore one Firkin of Amber Gold weighs 41.324 Kg
154.4 kg divided by 41.324 equals 3.73632 Firkins
Rounded to three decimal places is 3.736
The competition entries raised £154.00 and the donation buckets that were located around the event contained a further £223.52. This money topped up with profits from the Foundation Shop has been used to fund another £5,000.00 bursary that will enable a second graduate to study for a masters degree in sustainable water engineering at Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge University.
As ever we would like to thank everybody who helped fund this project both at the beer festival and here in the foundation shop.
September the 17th 2018
The latest financial report has just been published and can be seen in full by following the link on the left hand side of this page.
I just can't understand where the last four weeks have gone, the shop has been busier than ever with the nineteen hundred pound mark having been passed without even a blink in the seventeen or eighteen hundred pound bracket.
The university of Stirling has agreed to accept a £5,000 scholarship from the Foundation to help enable a student study for a masters degree in sustainable aquaculture, To date it is the only university that has responded to our offers of £5,000. Obviously the lecturers at Writtle, Cirencester, and Newcastle feel that their prospective students do not need any financial assistance.
Once again can I remind everybody the CAMRA Beer Festival, being held at the village hall has nominated Mister Gees Foundation as the event's beneficiary, so please come along on the 4th, 5th and 6th of October and give your support. The Foundation will be selling tickets whereby you could win a worthwhile prize and help raise funds that will enable a second student to study for a masters degree in sustainable water engineering at Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge.
August the 19th 2018
The latest financial report has just been published and can be seen in full by following the link on the left hand side of this page.
There have now been two weeks out of the last three where the sales through the shop have been over sixteen hundred pounds, so I suppose that the next milestone will be two thousand pounds in a week, more that I could have ever hoped for.
My struggle with the charity commission rumbles on and I can't help feeling that if they had deliberately gone out of their way to make life difficult they could not have made a better job than exists at present. Perhaps the problem would have been solved by now if instead of telling them the truth I had simply told them what they wanted to hear.
The response to the article in the South Woodham Ferrers Focus was very positive with six new helpers coming forward,
The sale of small electrical items has taken off very well and I look forward to seeing just how valuable a contribution to the sales they will make over time.
My brother Edward is helping me undertake a re-vamp of the website with a more informative area showing how the money donated to the Village Group has been used.
In October the CAMRA Beer Festival, being held at the village hall has nominated Mister Gees Foundation as the event's beneficiary, so please come along and give your support. The Foundation will be selling tickets whereby you could win a worthwhile prize and help raise funds that will enable a student to study for a masters degree in sustainable water engneering at Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge.
An entry form will be available in the shop as well as at the beer festival, details below.
August the 10th 2018
The response to my recent appeal for sales assistants in the South Woodham Ferrers Focus has been rather good, although another couple of helpers would not go amiss.
We have now taken delivery of the necessary calibrated equipment in order to carry out PAT safety testing, on small electrical items in order that we might offer them for re-sale in the foundation shop. Currently we have one competent operator but could willingly use the services of a retired electrician for a few hours each week.
By this Monday we will have a selection of small electrical goods, ranging from bedside lamps to egg boilers, with an aroma foot spa and juicer in between, available for sale
The shop sales continue to grow with last week's passing the sixteen hundred pound barrier.
More of this latest news to follow later.
July the 19th 2018
At the risk of sounding like a broken record might I once again appeal for help in the foundation shop.
From the sums of money raised in store and the list of local groups that have benefited from the donations given by The Village Group, clearly the Foundation has the ability to make a real difference to the village. However it can't continue to operate unless more people come forward and help staff the shop.
The Foundation Shop is simply a vehicle that transforms generously donated items into cash, but it takes time, time to sort the donations, time to price the articles, time to serve the customers, time to cash up, time to do the correct book-keeping in order to be transparent and time to keep the village informed, via social media and our website.
Regretfully the number of helpers that we have at present is not enough to ensure that all of the above is being done efficiently, There are only so many favours I can ask of them and consequently more and more work is falling on the shoulders of Uncle Ian and I, something that can't go on indefinitely.
In particular we need reliable sales assistants to staff the till on a regular basis or to provide holiday cover and although this might sound daunting and something that you have no experience of, rest assured the till does not bite and will not break if you make a mistake, full training will be given before you are thrown in at the deep end.
If every group that has benefited from the Foundation so far put forward just one person to help for one session per week the problem would be solved,
So, in a nutshell, unless more volunteers come forward a well conceived a proven idea to benefit the community as a whole is likely to drown in its own success.
July the 3rd 2018
It's great idea every so often to walk away from something in order to take a fresh look when you return.
Having just had a rather good holiday this last five weeks I'm looking forward to tackling all of the odds and ends in the shop that I've overlooked in the last few months.
The latest financial reports have been published, the balance sheet is up to the 24th of June and the Profit and Loss figures cover the eight weeks up to that date. The next period will be from the 25th of June up to the 22nd of July, four weeks as per normal and this will complete the first quarter of this financial year.
With help, I will be putting a small article on Facebook asking for more sales assistance here in the store. The back room tasks are pretty well covered now but help is still needed on the till, particularly during the holiday period, so if you have any spare time, please call in ask for me, Douglas Green.
Once again, many thanks for all of your support, both as donors and customers, you are all making a big difference to South Woodham Ferrers and at long last students studying water conservancy related subjects in UK universities with help from The Worshipful Company of Water Conservators, to whom Mister Gees Foundation has made funds available.
May the 16th 2018
Two steps forward, one step backwards, or that's how it feels at present.
Vat man, Tax man, Company House and Charity Commission, they all go around in circles and just create more work for everybody. Meanwhile the shop gets busier daily having just had our second £ 1500.00 plus week
Extra help with sorting and pricing the toys, games and bric-a-brac would be most welcome.
Uncle Ian, who normally does the handyman work in the shop is spending most of his time covering my two days off during the week so the assistance of somebody to put up a couple of shelves in the sorting area would also be appreciated.
Lastly in this very brief update, the financial report at the end of this month will be a few weeks later than normal. This will not be because I've "done a runner" with the dosh but because I will be away on a much needed holiday.
Once again, may I thank everybody for their donations and support at the Foundation Shop, not forgetting the staff who work very hard making the day to day operation run smoothly.
Help is still needed, so feel free to call in and leave your details if you have a few hours to spare each week.
May the 2nd 2018
Another month has passed and HMRC are still giving me grief. After deregistering for VAT and paying the outstanding sum due, last Tuesday VAT man in his infinite wisdom took the same amount of money from the foundation account.
I can't type the content of the ensuing telephone conversation for fear of censorship, suffice to say that when I was told that "a direct debit is a simple tool" my response was such that Stuart, with whom I was talking terminated the call. After a second conversation with a much nicer lady, well I was much nicer, I have been promised a refund within the next ten days.
John Holiday, at Pocknells, the accountants in Hullbridge Road has offered to take up the challenge and seek to get a satisfactory outcome on the Foundation's behalf. Pocknells have agreed to audit the books on a pro bono basis (that's for free to me and you) which is yet another example of the local community and businesses getting behind the foundation.
As long as the foundation's sales are below £ 85,000 p.a. we will remain outside of the scope for VAT, so in the meantime,the reject clothing that the foundation used to sell to Shields is being given to The Village Group, I'm not too sure what they will do with them, who knows, they may even sell them to Shields, but they will be well below the VAT threshold so there will be no VAT to pay. Hence the lower sales mentioned in the financial report.
See the latest list of beneficiaries in The Village Group..
April the 5th 2018
What a diff'rence a day made
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain
Dinah Washington sang those magic lyrics in 1959 and nearly sixty years later they came to mind when less than twenty four hours after my friendly VAT man left I had a telephone call telling me that my "sun and flowers" had turned to "rain".
It was to be all change as HMRC decided that the Foundation Shop should, after all, be charging VAT on its sales and paying that money to her Majesty. In spite of my protestations that she had already had one slice of the cake and that the shop was only selling the unwanted portion as kindly donated by the original purchaser, there was to be no changing the decision.
A telephone message left at our MP's office asking to be contacted has proven to be about as much use as an ashtray on a motorcycle and for the time being I have deregistered the not for profit company. This is however I fear only a temporary measure, as if the sales continue to grow at the current rate it will be only a matter of time before the threshold when we are obliged to enter the scheme again is reached.
The bottom line of all this is that since the shop opened we have collected over three thousand six hundred pounds on our sales but fortunately because we purchased enough usables, i.e. bags, tickets, labels, hangers etc when we were registered our net payment to HMRC is only seven hundred and twelve pounds.
I have applied to HMRC for exemption, but along with the Charity Commissioners, who knows how long it will take them to make a decision.
Trust me, it really is easier making money than giving it away.................
Meanwhile the latest financial reports are now available and can be viewed by following the links on this page.
March the 12th 2018
All I can say is that my "Swine from the Tyne" turned out to be anything but, I've just said goodbye to a very nice man from the VAT office in Southend-on-Sea.
HMRC has agreed that the sales of goods donated to the Foundation Shop are zero rated and therefore no VAT is payable.
Oh Joy of Joy.
He has now gone away to check as to whether we can continue to reclaim the VAT on the expense purchases made, but for this to be disallowed would be by far the lesser of the two evils. I would simply de-register for VAT and save myself some book-work.
I shall now get back into the shop and start working my way into the mountain of stock that needs sorting , pricing and put on the shelves.
March 5th 2018
The latest trading figures for the last four weeks are now available on-line together with the financial reports
After being at the mercy of the beast from the East last week the foundation shop is now under the scrutiny of the swine from the Tyne; Newcastle-upon-Tyne that is and the swine is the VAT inspector.
Following the submission of our last VAT return seeking an eighteen hundred pound repayment, I was contacted by telephone.
By way of demonstrating that I do understand the system., I established that the person to whom I was talking was not even born on the 1st of January 1973, and went on to point out that I had made VAT returns every quarter for at least one company since it was introduced on that day.
I then received an e-mail asking for copies of the book work, bank statements and computations showing how the final sum was arrived at, something that was done within the hour, his response was to query the money donated to the village group.
Although not spelt out in his e-mail clearly reading between the lines he is querying the fact that all of the sales made through the shop have been accounted for as zero rated. In my last correspondence. I have written asking as to what must be done in order to ensure that the goods donated to the shop,by local residents most of which will have previously had VAT paid on them would not attract a second tranche in VAT man's favour.
Not surprisingly I have had no response.
Apart from that everything else is moving along quite well. As I type Trevor and Uncle Ian are readying the shop for some new shelving to be installed in order to provide extra display space for the sale of household goods and bric a brac.
I'll not bother with my usual bit about extra help needed, suffice to say it is.
Once again I would like to thank everybody who has kindly donated goods for sale and also to the customers who open their wallets and purses in order to turn those items into cash.
January the 19th 2018
Here we are over half way through the first month of 2018 and some shopping patterns are starting to emerge, Tuesday and Wednesday appear to be our busiest days of the week with Saturday the quietest.
Internet sales are growing steadily, tempered only by the amount of time that I can find to photograph and list the items on E-bay, some help here would be more than welcome, so if you are "E-bay savvy" and have a few hours to spare, please give me a call.
Please visit the on-line shop in this website to see what we are selling on E-bay.
More staff for Thursday afternoon, anytime on Friday and any time on Saturday are still needed as will be some extra help for one off holiday cover as the year progresses.
I'm hoping to get away myself for a break towards the end of May for a few weeks and with this in mind if you are willing to help out for just a couple of weeks later in the year I would be very grateful.
The Village Group meets in a couple of weeks time to consider the first round of funding and it is not too late to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions or applications.
Lastly the sales continue to exceed my original budget, but then again so does the electricity bill, hopefully come the spring the electricity usage will diminish but the sales will continue to grow.
January the 4th 2018
Help Needed ASAP
Sorting, Pricing, Selling & Merchandising.
2018 has certainly started with a bang that is second only to the firework display on Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Donations have continued to flood into the shop and the sales are still at pre-Christmas levels, something that I had not expected.
Talking about donations may I take this opportunity to thank everybody who has made use of the clothing bin situated on Warwick Parade when we are closed, it has been a great help in keeping the pavement clear for passing pedestrians.
Meanwhile inside the shop there is a mountain of clothing, books, DVD's and Bric a Brac building up that needs to be sorted, priced and merchandised.
Please help, if you have a few hours to spare in the latter part of the week, Thursday, Friday or Saturday your presence in the shop would be most welcome. I can't say that it is rocket science or groundbreaking work, but you will never die of boredom, it's a laugh a minute environment here.