Donation has a fairytale ending for Norfolk’s Big C

Most charity shop drop-offs consist of a few old crime novels, items of clothing and the odd ornament.

But for charity shop volunteer Ruth Perfitt an unassuming brown bag left at the Big C shop on Timberhill in Norwich contained treasures which surpassed all expectation.

At the weekend, a collection of anonymously donated Japanese fairytale books raised more than �1,000 at auction – a figure 10 times anything raised at auction during the three years Mrs Perfitt has worked at the shop. 'There was this very non-descript brown paper bag', she said.

'The bag included a photograph album with a picture of Shanghai and some little hand painted books which were in their original box.

'There was a small scrap of paper saying 'this may be antique but anyway I hope they may raise you a few pounds'. They were different to anything I've seen before.'

Sensing they could be worth something Mrs Perfitt, who manages the wedding dress section of the Big C shop, contacted Horner's auctioneers.

Horner's book expert Robert Wright said the books were produced in Japan at the end of the 19th century for an English audience as they were translated Japanese fairytales.

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He said: 'They are very attractive items. What helped this along was the fact that this was a complete set. Because they were in a box they were in good condition.

'There is a growing interest in all things oriental. People in the Middle-East are building up their heritage. There was quite staggering demand for it in the room and on the internet.'

Mrs Perfitt said: 'It is staggering for me and I am sure that when everybody else in the Big C hear about it they will be astonished too. It takes three days collecting outside a supermarket to raise that amount. We do sometimes have things that are a bit singular and we send them off to auction, but I've never had anything that reached this.'

She added that in the middle of a busy day the donation could have been overlooked and ended up in the shop window for a pound.

The money raised from the auction could pay for 44 counselling sessions at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, 60 therapy sessions or eight Citizen's Advice Bureau meetings.

Mrs Perfitt warned people not to disregard items they were going to throw out. 'People need to think that just because it's old and they are tired of it and have no use for something.

'They may think that something is just Grandma's old thing. But it could be somebody's treasure. Let us decide. Send it to us and give it a chance.'