AFTER 30 years behind the counter, volunteer Jill Rowe is back in the Somerset shop she calls her second home.

Cancer Research UK volunteer Jill, 84, has spent three decades giving up her free time to work in the charity's High Street shop and says working there has been great therapy.

“I started here in 1989 shortly after having treatment for breast cancer,” she said.

"My husband saw an advert in the shop window for volunteers and he suggested I should go in.

“There weren’t a lot of people talking about cancer then and so I felt as though I was in a shell-shock state really.

"Volunteering helped me and it was great therapy going to work and still is.”

Now, people in Glastonbury are being urged to shop to save lives, as the Cancer Research UK shop re-opens after a devastating closure.

Three months on, staff and volunteers at the store on the High Street are now getting back to business to tackle a shortfall in funding, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

With its shops typically contributing more than £25m every year to vital research, Cancer Research UK has suffered a dramatic loss of income since they were forced to close temporarily at the end of March.

Highlighting the scale of the funding gap, the call to support the Glastonbury shop coincides with the launch of an urgent new TV appeal to help get the charity’s life-saving work back on track.

Its customers are a key part of this effort, so strict measures are being followed to ensure people in the town can shop, volunteer and donate goods safely.

These include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, cough guards at till points, face coverings and gloves for shop staff and volunteers, additional cleaning and a 72-hour quarantine period for donated items.

Bridgwater Mercury:

SECOND HOME: Jill has volunteered for 30 years

Mayor of Glastonbury, Councillor Jon Cousins, cut the ribbon to declare the shop back open and welcomed customers back inside, at a safe distance.

Maria Gregg, Cancer Research UK manager, said: “To save lives tomorrow, we need the public’s support today - so we want people to know we’re making every effort to create a safe shopping experience.

“COVID-19 has hit us hard and after three long months we’re delighted to be able to welcome new and familiar faces back through our doors again, as well as a host of new donations.

“Our shops are full of new and pre-loved items, fashion one-offs and homeware treasures – particularly after lockdown clear-outs. As well as being sold at bargain prices, every sale helps to fund our work.

"But right now, clinical trials are being postponed and we’re having to delay vital research.

“That’s why we’re asking our Somerset customers to do what they can. Whether they shop, donate goods or volunteer their time – all are essential to help us keep making breakthroughs for people with cancer.”

Cancer Research UK currently funds around 50% of all cancer research in the UK.

However, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, it expects to see its fundraising income decline by up to 30 per cent in the financial year ahead – putting this research at risk.

Maria added: “COVID-19 has slowed us down. But we will never stop.

“Every hour, around 90 people are diagnosed with cancer in the South West, we are absolutely determined to continue creating better cancer treatments for the future.

“Every step our scientists take towards beating cancer relies on every pound raised. So, with the help of shoppers in Somerset we believe that together we will still beat cancer.”

The Cancer Research UK shop at 26 High Street is now open 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Saturday.