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Photo gallery: Cromer Big C shop craft workshops make money - and offer support plus a cuppa

11:47 28 March 2014

Nothing is wasted at Cromer’s Big C charity shop - neither materials, space or time.

Every Wednesday afternoon the Church Street shop hosts a craft workshop, recycling donated items.

It is held in a room that would otherwise be empty. And its regulars include people who have experience of cancer and enjoy spending two hours a week creating crafts and chatting with others who know how they feel.

The idea was the brainchild of shop manager Wendy Brown who used to run a similarly successful workshop at the Norfolk charity’s Wymondham distribution centre.

“It’s just as much a support group as a way of making money,” said Mrs Brown.

One of the group’s mainstay items are the small heart-shaped cushions which can be placed under the armpit after breast surgery as a comfort. They are made by Mrs Brown and decorated by workshop members using any and every scrap of ribbon, ties, buttons, lace or other treasure they find among goods donated to the shop.

But the dozen or so regulars have also spent the year since the workshops were launched using donated wool to knit hats, scarves, coats for dogs, tea cosies, toys, blankets, headbands (some in Norwich City’s colours), and children’s jumpers.

Fabric draught excluders are stuffed with old duvets, attractive rag rugs fashioned from old T-shirts, tapestry cushion covers woven from wool, and strings of cheerful bunting sewn from assorted colourful scraps of material.

Cancer survivor Mo Roberts, 71, first learned the art of making rag rugs “at my grandmother’s knee” and has picked it up again after a break of some 10 years.

“I can come here, do something I enjoy and mention the word ‘cancer’ without everybody I talk to running away. You know here that other people have ‘been there’ and you can talk through it,” said Mrs Roberts, of Warnes Close, Cromer.

For Eileen Tucker, 68, the workshops are a chance for a chat. “I wouldn’t sit for two hours at home. It makes me do something and you pick up tips and learn things from each other,” said Mrs Tucker, of Northrepps Road, Cromer.

Wendy Marshall, 57, only moved to Cromer six months ago and has found the group a good way of getting to know people in the community.

Trudy Wright, 48, of West Street, Cromer, lost the use of a hand and a leg in an accident 27 years ago. Although she can no longer knit or sew, she is still able to do tapestry and enjoys making items for Big C to sell.

Sue Stoneman, 65, of Cabbell Road, Cromer, lost her mother to cancer and likes to help Big C in a practical way, rather than just writing out a cheque.

So far the crafters’ efforts have raised more than £1,500 for the charity.

All those taking part are full of praise for Mrs Brown, who ensures the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming.

“She is so vivacious and full of energy,” said Pam Tweed, 75, of West Street, Cromer.

Mrs Brown is willing to organise workshops on different days if there is enough demand and is hoping others - men and women - will get in touch. The shop can be contacted on 01263 516989.

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