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154.4 kg divided by 41.324 equals 3.73632 Firkins     


December 24th 2017 

Twelve months ago the concept of Mister Gees Foundation was sitting motionless on a drawing board in my office, it was not until Muscular Dystrophy made known in March its decision to relinquish the lease on Shop Three Warwick Parade that it became tangible, took on a life of its own and the work began.

Some objectives and goals have been much easier to achieve than others, fitting out the shop and opening on time were pretty straightforward. Shop staffing is still  being fine tuned and the product range reviewed, but the red tape boys beggar belief. 


In May I applied to the Charity Commission to register Mister Gees Foundation as a charity, to date after many hours of form filling and a solicitors bill of several hundred pounds the foundation is no closer to achieving this aim.

It has become obvious to me that it's easier to make money than give it away.

After many years in business, red tape is not new to me but the commissioners have taken it to a far higher level than I could have ever imagined, let alone believed. Consequently my fellow directors and I are considering withdrawing the application and working with existing charities and educational institutions  in order to fulfill our initial intentions without the added hassle of a seperate charitable enterprise, however we will have one last try before making any final decision.

Rest assured, our desire is still to encourage young people to enter, farming, sustainable fishing and water management. We will of course continue to report every penny of income and expenditure here and in the local press, after all it is your donations and support that continues to fund the project and as such I feel you have a greater vested interest than the Charity Commissioners sitting upon somewhere high.

As pointed out in my last update, The Village Group has received its first payment of three thousand five hundred pounds from the shop and is actively seeking suggestions for how it can be beneficially used in South Woodham Ferrers.

All that remains now is to wish everybody a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. 

Hopefully the shop will continue to thrive in 2018.

December 10th 2017 

As you will read in the financial report income for the first full four week period has been thirty seven pence short of five thousand and fifty pounds. rather more than I could ever have hoped for.

Consequently a donation of three thousand five hundred pounds has been made to The Village Group, again more than I had originally budgeted. 

Bric a brac together with toys and games have made up a large proportion of the sales this last four weeks, so it will be interesting to see what happens after Christmas.

Talking of which the shop opening hours over the festive period will be as follows:-

Friday the 22nd of December 09:30 - 4:30 as per usual.

Saturday the 23rd to Tuesday the 26th of December Closed

Wednesday the 27th to Friday the 29th of December 10:00 - 2:00

Saturday the 30th of December to Monday the 1st of January Closed

Tuesday the 2nd of January 09:30 - 4:30 as per usual

We will be more than happy to relieve you of any unwanted or excess gifts when we are open between Christmas and the New Year.

Lastly may I take this opportunity to thank everybody for their continued donations and shopping support, long may they continue.

All of the staff and I would like to wish you a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.

November 26th 2017 

I'm finding it hard to believe that it is really a week since I last updated this page.

Sales have continued to grow albeit at a slightly slower rate, but that could well have much to do with when payday falls, black friday and the general fact that Christmas shopping is gathering pace.


There are four new helpers starting  next week and they will be a most welcome addition. Getting the stock out of "black sacks" and onto the shelves and clothing rails is a never ending cycle, that will hopefully continue for a long time yet.


I understand that "The  Village Group" has signaled its existence via the South Woodham Focus and is now awaiting responses. and applications.

On a slight tangent, many years ago the very first Mister Gees shop had an instore post box into which local children would put their letters to Santa, he always replied in person. If anybody has or knows where I might acquire a round cardboard drum, or anything similar about 1000mm high x 500mm in diameter (in new money) I could make good use of it.

If all else fails there is always an e-mail address that I've had for a few years now, but it's not quite the same as something that arrives in an envelope.

There's not a lot else to say this week but some feedback would be good as I often wonder if anybody reads this page or not.

November 18th 2017 

The only phrase that comes to mind this morning is "a tiger by the tail".

Donations have continued to flood into and stock fly out of the shop and for that I'm most grateful, it has however highlighted the need for more help to both sort and sell the goods.

In particular assistance is needed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons from 1:00 - 4:30 Friday Mornings from 09:30 - 1:00 and any time on Saturdays between 10:00 and 4:00. If you think that you might be able to help with any of these shifts please call in or telephone and ask for Douglas.

At last the first balance sheet is available here on-line and it looks pretty encouraging, again if you have any queries, just ask.

This is perhaps a rather shorter version of the latest news than usual as I'm just getting ready to head off to the shop and prepare for another day.


November 10th 2017

I'm not too sure just what to write here and as anybody who knows me will agree, it's not that often that I'm lost for words.

Much has been said about the new look premises and with this in mind I would like to thank everybody who helped with the "sixty day make-over". Uncle Ian, Herbie Smith, Maurice Saffell, Brian Brazier, Chris Green and Dave Bowdler, from Square Edge Solutions, my three sons and even my elder brother and his paintbrushes who have all given their time freely and without payment, thank you one and all.


The response to the shop merchandising over the last ten days has been fantastic, something that is in no small part due to the input of Audrey and the team from the Muscular Dystrophy shop together with the assistance of the newer volunteers.

I should like to welcome all of the new helpers and once again appeal to anybody who has any spare time to call in and and have a chat. There are plenty of jobs that still need doing, so even if it is just a few hours a month at irregular times, you will much appreciated. 

The volume and quality of goods  donated has been far greater than expected and it has been all hands to the pumps in order to get them priced and into the shop. That said, try as we may the clothes rails, book shelves and bric a brac sections are emptying as fast as we can fill them, so please be patient with us.

Lastly, the gross receipts for the first ten days that will end tomorrow, Saturday the 11th, will certainly exceed one thousand five hundred pounds. This is a level of trading that I had not expected to achieve before March or April of next year. Fuller details will be posted in the first monthly financial statement for the period ending 12/11/2017. Reports will then continue to be published every four weeks. 

So, there we are, one idea a lot of hard work and loads of support really can make a difference.

October 26th 2017



At long last we have an opening date, although less than five weeks after Mister Gees Foundation took possession of the unit and after a full re-fit and stocking exercise is perhaps not so bad.

​The volunteer labour has been second to none, from Maurice with his timber clearing skills to Herbie and my brother Edward with their paint brushes, Brian Brazier with the wrecking bar and Square Edge Solution armed with their laser level and fancy woodworking machinery, whilst not forgetting Uncle Ian and my three sons who have devoted early mornings, late evenings and weekends to the cause in whatever capacity was needed.

Today the ladies from Muscular Dystrophy returned and commenced pricing and displaying the stock for sale. They have coped marvellously with a new layout, new systems and a new bloke, who knows little about charity shops but is insisting on tipping the world upside down.

​As mentioned before, I would like the shop on Warwick Parade to become YOUR charity shop, after all said and done, one half of all the profit raised will be made available to good causes in and for the general benefit of South Woodham Ferrers, with only the balance being used by the trustees to assist young people to enter teaching, farming, sustainable fishing or water management.

​If you have a few hours of spare time each week and would like to help in any way please feel free to drop in this Thursday or Friday, join us for a cuppa and have a chat with the existing volunteers, you will be most welcome.

​Lastly we are now able to accept donations again, the new collection bin should be sited at the far left of Warwick Parade, next to the town notice board by the end of the week for clothing and shoes but in the meantime just knock on the front door or call around the rear service yard. 



October 19th 2017

At long last we have a new shop front,, the boys from Woodham Windows have just completed the task with a sigh of relief as the two panes of double glazed glass each weighing one hundred and forty four kilograms were edged into the nice new frame.  

Most of the decorating in the shop area has now been finished with only the rear wall and box work around the new shop front to be built and painted. Once again Herbie Smith has been in attendance all week and my brother Edward gave two days of his time to assist with the top coat after No. 1 son James gave the final lick of emulsion base on Sunday. Uncle Ian has installed a new kitchen sink in the staff area, a butler sink in the sorting room together with an essential fridge and kettle point. How else is an army of volunteers supposed to function.   .

The next major task is to erect the shop-fittings, be they clothing rails or shelving and lay the floor covering ready to start laying out the stock for sale that is on hand. The clothing bank is due to arrive next week and we will then be able to accept donations again.

This week's star has been Irene Allen who has spent countless hours programming the touch screen till that will hopefully enable us to manage the available space within the store as effectively as possible. We will be able to break down the sales by category and group, i.e, ladies skirts, children's clothing, men's trousers etc.


There will or course still be a bargain buy rail and a stock clearance section for anybody shopping on a tight budget or looking for a real snip.

Once again can I remind you that fifty percent of the profit raised in the shop will be used exclusively for good causes in South Woodham Ferrers, so please join in the ownership of this project.


Lastly on Thursday the 26th and Friday the 27th of this month we will be having an "open house" for any ladies or gentlemen who may be in a position to give a few hours of their valuable time to assist in any way possible, so why not pop in and have a cup of tea or coffee, meet the girls and look over the shop. I look forward to seeing you there.

October 11th 2017

This last week has been rather hectic but the difference to the shop is amazing. The suspended ceiling has been installed and all of the walls are now ready to be painted.


Yesterday I received news that the shop fittings are on their way to South Woodham and tomorrow all of the electrics should be finished.

The boys from Square Edge Solutions have once again volunteered two days of their valuable time to the cause, something for which I am truly indebted and they have been joined by Herbie Smith, a long time resident of the village armed with paint brushes and a roller. Chris Green, my nephew commented that Herbie had arrived as if dressed for the pub, and departed looking exactly the same after four hours of decorating  without a spot of paint anywhere other than on the walls and ceiling.

The preceeding ten days have been like one of those children's puzzles where you move one square at a time and end up with a complete picture. There have been carpet tiles, sheets of plasterboard, more sheets of MDF, lengths of timber and insulation materials. Whilst in and around all this there has been a selection of white goods for the staffroom and the flat, a new doorway has been cut and the kitchen sink is still in the wrong place.

I live in hope, and by this weekend the picture may well emerge from the puzzle, meanwhile it is back to the shop, with hammer in hand to assist Uncle Ian as he completes the changing room.

September 30th 2017

Today is the day that Mister Gees Foundation officially takes over the lease of 3 Warwick Parade from Muscular Dystrophy; hopefully it will become a day to remember for all the right reasons. The service meters have been read and the supplies changed into the foundation’s name. We even have a letterbox now in the sterling board shop front although I assume that it will only be bills that find their way through the opening.

With the exception of the kitchen sink, everything that needed removing from the shop has gone and as of this morning Chris Green and Dave Bowdler from Square-Edge Solutions are here fixing battening to the walls with laser precision in readiness for the installation of the suspended ceiling.

Sons James and Richard together with John and Uncle Ian have once again been press ganged into giving up their weekend in order that the advantage gained from the extra two weeks that we have been able to work in the shop is not lost.

The mains water supply has been re-routed and will be hidden from sight whilst all of the drains have been checked out before any other pipe work is boxed in.

The new shop sign arrived last Tuesday and should be attached next week along with the first fix of the new electrics after a visit from Baz of Eco City Electrics on Monday to give the go ahead.

On a rather different note, please may I ask that any donations that you might have at home remain there for the time being until we have the “sorting area” set up and working. A textile bin will be sited at the far end of Warwick Parade within the next couple of weeks in order to make out of hours deliveries easier and safer. 

Thursday was a rather sad day for Audrey and the girls who have worked so hard to ready the shop for handover as they left for the last time, but many will be back as soon as we start to re-stock the premises They did however have an early Christmas meal at China Kitchen last night and I should like to thank them for asking me to join in the celebrations. It was a fun gathering and with luck the first of many.

All in all it has been yet another very industrious week and within the next ten days or so we should have a much clearer idea as to the re-opening date for the shop. 

September the 23rd 2017

Hopefully by this time next week the shop will be completely stripped out and ready for the re-fit to commence. This week Brian Brazier lent a fresh hand and Maurice returned again to help, something which was much appreciated. 

There have been a couple of unforeseen items that will require attention before we can re-open, one being the electrics in both the shop and the flat are in need of attention. The shop needs a new consumer board and a total re-wire, this has resulted in Baz of Eco City Electrical steaming in at break neck speed, fuelled by plentiful cups of tea. Fortunately the flat will suffice with a new board and the existing circuitry sorting out. whilst the other "unforeseens" relates to the water supply that has been "botched up" at some time in the past and a leaking rainwater pipe that will need replacing.

The ceiling fitters have been lined up and the carpet tiles arrive next week; but there is some plastering and painting to be undertaken before either can be installed. So if you are handy with a paintbrush or roller and have a few hours free during early October, just call me, e-mail me or call in at the shop, you will be most welcome.

Throughout all of this the bookwork has to be kept up to date and Irene and I have started allocating EAN bar codes to each of the product groups and price points in readiness for printing the labels at a later stage. 

The forty five years since I set up my first shop on Warwick Parade have taken their toll and I must admit to being absolutely tuckered by the end of the day and if I'm feeling that way Uncle Ian must be even more so, he is even older than me.

Once again Audrey and the girls have moved mountains in order to give us the space needed to work in; with any luck they will enjoy the couple of weeks break before they start all over again this time re-filling the clothing racks and shelving.

Next week I shall post a gallery showing what changes have taken place so far.

September the 17th 2017

Although I've been away for two days this week rather a lot has been achieved


Last weekend, thanks to Uncle Ian and two of my sons we managed to install an insulated wooden floor in the "garage" so that there is now an office to work from. With extra help from Maurice Saffell yesterday the adjacent storage and sorting area received the same treatment.

Most of the stock has now been removed from the shop along with much of the old shelving. The next major task is to dismantle what was the cold room that was installed by Peter & John Stent back in 1972 and then begin the re-fit in earnest.


Audrey and the girls continue to beaver away in order that the shop might re-open as soon as possible and even more new equipment has been ordered for delivery when the new shop front has been installed.

From amongst the ranks of existing helpers a hidden talent has emerged, someone about whom I shall write more later.

Just before finishing this article yet another e-mail has arrived from the Charity Commissioners Office. In May I was told that it would take up to eight weeks for them to make a decision and here we are in mid September. The commissioners appear to be baffled as to why the foundation intends to donate half of the profit from the charity shop to the village and why the trustees are not involved in the decision making process as to how it will be distributed. To use their words " this is not a refusal to register your organisation, but we have not received a full application and are unable to make a considered assessment and a registration decision". To use my words, it's back to the drawing board again,

Lastly, we have a "celebrity" lined up to perform the opening ceremony on a date that I will keep you informed about as and when  the time comes,


Hopefully next week will be every bit as productive.

September  the 8th 2017


Well here we are, early September and things are really on the move.

Regretfully, following the vehicle mishap with the shop front at Warwick Parade Muscular Dystrophy has decided that reopening the charity shop and trading until the end of this month is not practical. Consequently Audrey and her team have been working hard to clear the premises of stock in order that the foundation might commence the re-fit programme a couple of weeks early.

Uncle Ian has started to remove the old shelving and hopefully by Monday we will have a site office to work from.


A new shop front has been ordered and will be installed as soon as it arrives. New flooring has been selected as has the suspended ceiling and later today the shop-fittings will be agreed.

The next major task will be to recruit additional help, both for the shopfit and staffing when the store re-opens. If you think that you can help with the re-fit programme over the next few weeks don't hesitate to contact me on 07438 443374 or by e-mailing me at

Since it is the foundation's intention to trade six days a week,there will be a need for more helpers to join the existing team in the store; both at the till and as support. Again, if you think that you might be able to do one or two four hours shifts per week, please get in touch.  

I shall write again next week with a progress report.

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