Norfolk cancer charity gets Japanese windfall

A Norwich-based cancer charity has been given an early Christmas present after an anonymous donor left a valuable box of books on its doorstep.

The sale of a set of 100-year-old Japanese fairytale books, which raised more than �1,000 at auction for the Big C, will provide much-needed help and research for cancer patients.

Following the windfall, charity shop volunteer Ruth Perfitt warned people not to disregard items they were going to throw out as rubbish, because they could be worth hundreds of pounds to a charity.

'People need to think', she said. 'Just because it's old and they are tired of it, and have no use for something, it is not useless. 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.

'We do ask people to think if anybody would buy it', she added. 'It might not be what you would buy, but if it is in reasonable condition give it a chance.'

The cash raised through the sale of the books could pay for 44 counselling sessions at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, 60 therapy sessions or eight Citizen's Advice Bureau meetings.

The Japanese books, which date back to the end of the 19th century were dropped off in a brown paper bag to the Big C shop on Timberhill in the city.

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'There was this very non-descript brown paper bag', said Mrs Perfitt. 'The bag included a photograph album with pictures 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 all obviously 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.

They were put up for auction at the weekend and raised �1,100 - a figure about 10 times more than anything raised at auction during the three years Mrs Perfitt has worked at the shop. Other items given in the anonymous donation pushed up the windfall to about �1,300.

Horner's book expert Robert Wright said the books were produced in Japan at the end of the 19th century for an English audience. They were a set of translated Japanese fairytales which was in a box set in really good condition.

'They are very attractive items', he said. '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. If they had made �400, I would have been delighted.'

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.

'I do look out for things that might be a bit particular. We can be overwhelmed with donations and we cannot control the flow of things.

'I could imagine that in the middle of a very busy day, they may have just been put in the window for a pound.'

Do you know who left the books outside the Big C shop? Contact Annabelle Dickson on 01603 772426 or e-mail