October the 21st 2019
I'm a week late this month with the Latest News and The Financial Report, but then again, compared to our elected representatives in Parliament, that's nothing.
The dust has yet to settle on the income from the CAMRA Beer Festival at the village hall but it should be no less than last year which grossed Approx. £650.00 The three raffle prizes, consisting of the yard of ale glass and twelve bottles of beer, the Toby jug and two bottles of beer and the glass tankard and a single bottle of beer were won by Mr Hinton of Maldon with Blue ticket No. 490, Mr Joyce of Wickford with Green ticket No. 472 and Mr Lambert of South Woodham Ferrers with Blue ticket No, 367. Many thanks to all who purchased raffle tickets and or made donations via the collection buckets.
The shop is still in need of extra staff all day on Tuesdays and on Thursday afternoon, if you can help we would be most grateful.
The Village Group this month made donations to SWF Badminton Acadamy, the 1st SWF Girls Brigade, the open door toddler group, SWF Bereavement Support Group, SWF Rugby Club and the food bank.
The Financial Report for the last four weeks is now available in full.
September the 18th 2019
As mentioned in the latest financial report, along with the other shops on Warwick Parade the foundation is feeling the effects of.the continued road closure at the junction of Hullbridge Road and Burnham Road. Hopefully it will soon reopen.
Last month I thanked Ahead4 who came to our rescue and sorted out our internet connection, this month it has been greenrecycling of Heybridge that have solved the excess book situation. Every week we get some books that are for various reasons unsaleable, be it water damage or just general ware and tare. these are now being collected by greenrecycling. This is yet another example of a local business supporting the charity. Please give them your support and trade locally. Visit our thank you page.
We are still in need of some extra help in the shop on a Tuesday and Thursday, so if you can be of any assistance please call in and ask for Douglas or Val, if we are not there just leave a telephone number and we will call back.
Once again the end of period figures have now been produced and are posted here on the website as well as on the South Woodham Ferrers Facebook page.
Please, please get in any applications to The Village Group for financial assistance for your local group or organisation, forms are available on the website or just call in at the shop and ask for one.
August the 23rd 2019
This last week and a bit have been rather hectic, I've been to see the surgeon, the physio and attended a funeral; on top of which the shop has had thee four hundred pound plus days.
One of the biggest problems was that the internet connection had "packed up". No bank access, no credit card machine, no accounts that are cloud based and no social media, not that that was overly missed by me.
Anyhow, after a telephone call to the boys at Ahead4 all is now good.thanks to Richard. He very diplomatically pointed out that the problem had been caused by my interference, I was not supposed to have pressed all of the buttons including the reset button, all in the wrong order. I can only say a big thank you to them for sorting everything out and doing it at their own expense. This is yet another example of a local business supporting the charity. Please give them your support and shop locally. Visit our thank you page.
We are still in need of some extra help in the shop on a Tuesday and Thursday, so if you can be of any assistance please call in and ask for Douglas or Val, if we are not there just leave a telephone number and we will call back.
Lastly the end of period figures have now been produced and will be posted on the website as soon as the electrical goods stop flooding in through the office door.
As ever my thanks go out to everybody who has supported the foundation and the shop staff who all work so hard to keep the shelves full and the stockroom tidy.
July the 27th 2019
I write this missal at least once a month now but often wonder if anybody reads it.
When producing the latest financial report earlier today I was horrified to discover that I'd not changed the links to the PDF's from the previous month. This makes me wonder if anybody looks at them either, or is it only to satisfy my desire for transparency that I go through the exercise every four weeks.
Yesterday the foundation funded two more scholarships each worth five thousand pounds for students to study masters degrees in water management.
The shop continues to trade well and in the first sixteen weeks of this financial year total income has exceeded thirty five thousand pounds, of which thirty thousand has been paid into the charity's bank account.
As ever the shop continues to attract a vast assortment of donations, yesterday we sold an ice shaver and even whilst I'm writing this somebody has just dropped off a large umbrella, ideal for either the sun or the rain. E-bay sales continue to grow, but it is totally dependant upon me having the time to list the items. Only last week we sold a set of speakers for one hundred and thirty eight pounds.
At long last the shop is gearing up for gift aid, the forms have been designed and a copy will be posted on the website for donors to download, complete and return to the shop. Hard copies are available in-store. for collection.
Well, it will soon be time to open the shop and starting selling again, there is an abundance of DVD's for children and adults at only twenty pence each and plenty of games and toys to avert the boredom, just right for a day like this.
June the 25th 2019
It is great to be back in the office again after my operation, I as getting stir crazy in the flat upstairs.
Trade this last four weeks on the hole parade has been a wee bit slower than normal, mainly due to the traffic disruption at the junction of Hullbridge Road and Burnham Road and the change in traffic patterns.
At long last we now have HMRC approval for gift aid and will shortly sort out the relevant forms in order to reclaim the tax paid by donors.
Even though the rent has now been paid up to the end of September we have still managed to transfer another five thousand to the Foundation Charity account during this last four weeks.
Once again the latest financial report is now available here on the website and on facebook
May the 29th 2019
At long last I'm about to go under the surgeon's knife and get my hip sorted out and although this is likely to keep me out of the shop for a few weeks it may well give me the opportunity to revamp this website with a few more pictures and a lot more colour.
Fortunately Val Shrimpton has either agreed to undertake herself or arranged cover for my absence, so once again it is the team of volunteers who will end up carrying me along with them, something for which I am as ever most grateful.
Talking of staffing, there are a few "shifts" in the morning and in the afternoon that need some extra cover for the foreseeable future, In particular Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon from 13:00 'til 16:30 and Friday morning.
from 09:30 am 'til 13:00. If you can be of any assistance, please telephone 07434 830379 or call in at the shop and leave your contact details.
After the first eight weeks of this the new financial year we are already ahead of budget for sales so long may it last.
Once again the latest financial report is now available here on the website and on facebook..
April the 28th 2019
The shop gets busier and busier every week, it really wasn't that long ago when if the sales had reached five hundred pounds by the end of Wednesday I thought that we were doing rather well. It is just a matter of time now until we break the five hundred pound target in a single day. We came very close to it three weeks ago, in fact so close that had I realised just how close we were before cashing up I would have spent ten pounds on something, anything just to get us over the bar.
As well as serving the growing number of customers every day, the volunteers work flat out in order to keep the shop well stocked and looking tidy but one of the hardest tasks is keeping up with sorting and pricing all of the donations received. It is however one of the most essential aspects of the store, often just working flat out to keep a clear passage through to the rear door.
The day to day book keeping keeps me pretty busy as well as things like the banking and PAT testing the electrical items before putting them out for sale.
The only down side to all of this is that I seem to get less and less time to spend taking care of the administration needed and more importantly keeping the website, the staff and articles in the South Woodham Focus up to date, however I will continue to do my best.
The latest financial report is now available here on the website and on facebook.
April the 3rd 2019
After the rather pleasant weather that we have been enjoying this last ten days or so this morning sitting here at the computer and looking out of the window is a little depressing, but having just completed the last four weeks trading results the outlook is very sunny. It will be very interesting when I start to build next year's budgets and cash flow in a couple of weeks time to see just what next year might have in store.
The foundation trading company is now in receipt of the sales of bulk clothing, books and discs again as well as actively selling on E-bay and Discogs. These income streams contributed over seventeen hundred pounds to the total receipts in the last period.
During the last couple of weeks Heather Morgan has poured over the end of day till printouts and has audited all of the figures that have been entered into the accounting programme in readiness for the year end presentation to Pocknells our accountants.
As pointed out in the latest financial report, in order to comply with the wishes of the charity commission all of the profit generated by the foundation trading company, which operates the shop on Warwick Parade, can only be given to the newly registered charity Mister Gees Foundation Charity......Registered Number UK 1181204.
From now on applications for funding or suggestions for usage will continue to be sent to the Village Group, however payments will be made directly from the charity's NatWest bank account, the balance of which can now be seen in the financial report on line each month.
In store a large television has been installed and is displaying a slide show presentation showing just how effective your support has been and how the money raised is being used here in South Woodham Ferrers. Again, please may I have photographs, preferably as JPEGS from those beneficiaries who have yet to send any for use in store.
Lastly the financial report for the last four weeks has been posted.
February the 4th 2019
This last four weeks has seen an increase in sales via the shop on Warwick Parade as well as income from other streams. Combined this has taken the gross income to a new level of just under ten thousand pounds in the last sales period.
Having registered as a Charity Seller with E-bay, once again we are advertising goods for sale via the site.
There is now the facility for individuals to donate a percentage of any item that they may sell on the site to the foundation with the added benefit of the sellers fees being reduced by whatever percentage they choose to donate. i.e. if they donate 20% then their fees are reduced by 20% and so on.
The next step is to seek HMRC approval for gift-aid and although this in itself will necessitate some changes in the way that the shop operates it has the ability to add yet another twenty percent to our income.
With help and assistance a revamp of this web-site is now underway, it is hoped to "brighten up" the site and also make it possible to donate to the charity by using a designated button.
In store a large television has been installed and will shortly be displaying a "PowerPoint" presentation showing just how effective your support has been and how the money raised is being used here in South Woodham Ferrers. There will be a link to the presentation from the site.
Lastly the latest financial report has been posted.
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.
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 email@example.com 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
THE SHOP ON WARWICK PARADE WILL REOPEN ON THURSDAY THE 2nd OF NOVEMBER
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.