THE Cancer Research UK superstore in Leeds has relaunched following a major expansion into the retail unit next door and refurbishment of the existing space, creating a giant superstore.
The charity superstore, at Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park, Leeds, now has over 7,000 sq ft of retail space, almost doubling the size of the original store, which first opened in 2016. It will also create a further five paid jobs.
Thanks to the extra space, the store is now organised into several distinctive departments and for the first time will offer large items of quality donated furniture, such as sofas, dining tables, cabinets and wardrobes. Also, small electrical items, like TVs, irons, and HiFi are also on offer, thanks to in-house PAT testing.
These new departments are in addition to pre-loved homeware, gifts, books, media and women’s, men’s and children’s wear and accessories, with many priced £5 or less, giving people in the area an affordable way to shop with all the profits going to support the charity’s life-saving research.
And along with donated items, there is a large range of brand-new goods, including kitchenware and linens, cushions, outdoor living rugs, pet products, and greetings cards, along with surplus stock gifted from well-known retail corporate supporters of the charity.
Cutting the ribbon at the official opening at 10 am was special guest Heather Parker, 58. The regular shopper, donator and supporter of the superstore, was diagnosed with unknown primary cancer in 2017, which has still to be identified.
Heather, who lives in Kirkstall, continues to be monitored after finishing chemotherapy, surgery then radiotherapy treatment in June 2018. Not yet able to get back to Ballroom and Latin American dancing which was her passion, she now spends her time volunteering at the Leeds Cancer Centre Bexley Wing Chemo Suite as a Chemo Chum for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, an invaluable role, using her own experience and empathy to help make patients feel calmer, comfortable and more confident while they undergo treatment.
Said Heather: “I am one of the rarer cancer patients as I have an unknown primary cancer, so although my treatment was for the lymph nodes under my arm, the source of the cancer has yet to be identified.” She had been suffering from pain in her shoulder and what felt like internal soreness under her right arm but didn’t know why it was hurting.
Heather attended a routine mammogram, but got a letter calling her back. She explained: “I went back and had more pictures taken, but these were clear, showing only what they thought was thickened tissue, and the doctor said I was OK. But as I was about to leave the room, I stopped and turned around and mentioned the pain I’d been having to her, just in case.”
Heather was asked to stay and tell the doctor more about. “She listened carefully then decided to do an ultrasound straight away. She could see inflamed lymph nodes so then did four needle biopsies and told me I would have an appointment for the results in a week.”
When Heather went back she was given the news it was cancer, but it was not identifiable. “I was in shock, it was not what I had expected. I felt like I’d been condemned, given a sentence. But once the cancer nurse explained everything to me and told me what was going to happen, I felt prepared and in a much better place internally, ready to deal with it.”
Heather underwent intensive chemo, every week for four months, then surgery to remove 17 lymph nodes. Tests showed tumours had been in two of them, so it was good news the chemo that was prescribed for her had worked. Heather then underwent daily radiotherapy for three weeks which finished in June 2018. She hasn’t had any further treatment but continues to be monitored.
Heather said: “I was so honoured to be asked to reopen the Kirkstall Superstore. I know personally how important research is. Even though doctors at the Leeds Cancer Centre tried so hard to work out what my primary cancer is, they were able to find a treatment that worked for me. Hopefully advancements in diagnostics through research will soon solve the puzzle.
“I regularly go down to donate and shop in the Cancer Research UK Kirkstall superstore and feel so welcome there. Now they take furniture, I’m donating a much-loved bamboo three-piece suite which is in great condition. It is a retro style which is really in right now and I look forward to it finding a new home and raising lots of money to help more people with cancer.”
Fred Wing, Cancer Research UK Superstore Business Manager, said: “When we opened in Kirkstall in 2016, it was our first retail park Superstore in Yorkshire. Thanks to the fantastic support by the local community, who have generously donated and shopped, it has raised over £2.1 million in 5 years for life saving cancer research.
“Now, with the additional space at Kirkstall, we can offer furniture and electrical items for the first time, as well as lots more clothing and accessories. The furniture is creatively displayed and styled in a home setting, with cushions on the sofas and place settings on tables, giving customers an idea how it could look in their house.
“It feels quite like you are walking into a department store, with distinctive home, fashion, children and media areas, but the good news is this is a charity department store, filled with recycled items and with money only going to life saving research and saving lives.
“To finally have our bigger and better superstore now fully open, and to welcome customers in, is something to celebrate and be very grateful for. We are hoping that the expansion of the Cancer Research UK Kirkstall Superstore will increase our contribution to research by an additional £80k a year.”
Dawn Harrison, who has been Manager at the Kirkstall Superstore since 2017, added: “We’re very grateful to have our customer and friend Heather Parker declare the store open. She is a reminder to us all of just how important raising money for research into cancer is.
“We had a queue of loyal customers waiting to come in after the ribbon was cut. They couldn’t wait to see what was on offer and told us how impressed they were with how it looked. The till has not stopped ringing!
“It is the first time we’ve had furniture on offer, ideal for people who want to do up or reorganise their home on a budget. They could be people now working from home, families who have lost income during lockdown or students coming to live in Leeds. And for those who have spent the last year upgrading their homes, we would love to have any quality furniture in a saleable condition or other items they would like to donate. We even have a free van collection service and can also deliver for a small charge.”
Dawn, and her loyal team of over 40 shop volunteers, couldn’t wait to come back to the store after the COVID-19 closures. She said: “The team have worked extremely hard before and during the extensive alterations to the building, which involved knocking through into next door and a major refit of the new space. The builders only left us at the end of last week, so we’ve spent long days over the weekend getting the space ready. It looks absolutely fabulous and I am so proud of each and everyone of them.
“I hope people will pop in and discover the huge range of quality items on offer at bargain prices. There’s plenty of free parking right outside, so it is easy to drop off any unwanted items to donate to us. We are always looking for new people to come and join our team, so just come in and say hello to find out more.”
With around 31,000 people diagnosed with cancer every year in Yorkshire and The Humber, Cancer Research UK was able to spend over £5million in the region last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.
The Cancer Research UK Kirkstall superstore, at Unit 12 Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park, Bridge Rd, Leeds LS5 3BL, is open from 9.00am to 6:30pm Monday and Tuesday, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm Wednesday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. Telephone 0113 278 8413.
For more information about Cancer Research UK visit www.cruk.org/shops or follow @CRUKshops on Twitter.
As restrictions are now are eased, the wearing of face coverings will be personal choice and no longer a legal requirement, and social distancing and limits on the number of people allowed in store are being removed. However, Cancer Research UK remains committed to creating safe environments within which to shop, in-line with government recommendations, and asks that people be mindful of the shop teams and other customers.