Welwyn Garden City charity shop receives fresh look thanks to widower

Willow Foundation volunteers and chief executive officer Jonathan Aves (centre) with Welwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer colleagues who donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOO

Willow Foundation volunteers and chief executive officer Jonathan Aves (centre) with Welwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer colleagues who donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

A Welwyn Garden City-based charity received a fresh look thanks to a widower who wanted to repay them for giving her ever lasting memories with her husband.

Welwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer customer services assistant Michele Hart who's husband received a Willow Foundation special day 15 years ago reads a poem after her and her colleagues donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOOWelwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer customer services assistant Michele Hart who's husband received a Willow Foundation special day 15 years ago reads a poem after her and her colleagues donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOO

Willow’s shop in Wigmores South was chosen by Welwyn Garden City’s Marks & Spencer customer assistant Michele Hart to receive the makeover as part of its Making Every Moment Special in the Community 2018 project.

The charity, that gives seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 uplifting and unforgettable Special Days, gave Michele, her late husband Paul and their children one of those days 15 years ago.

After Paul was diagnosed with leukaemia Willow provided the family with a trip to London.

They enjoyed a flight on the London Eye, meal at the well known Rainforest Cafe, West End Show and a McDonald’s for the kids who were only five and eight at the time.

Welwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer customer services assistant Michele Hart who's husband received a Willow Foundation special day 15 years ago reads a poem after her and her colleagues donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOOWelwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer customer services assistant Michele Hart who's husband received a Willow Foundation special day 15 years ago reads a poem after her and her colleagues donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOO

Paul died the following year but Michele said the “treasured memories” that day gave them will last forever.

She added: “Although our children were only small at the time, 15 years on, they could give a minute by minute account of the entire day.

“It had such an enormous impact on us all and the happy memories are ever lasting.”

Michele, along with the store manager, Nevin Haldal, three colleagues Jane Inns, Julie Sharp, Wayne Hanson and visual merchandisers, Jenny Georgieva and Catherine Turner WGC’s M&S store spent the morning of Monday, June 18, revamping the store.

Welwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer colleagues donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOOWelwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer colleagues donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOO

The group used the £500 Making Every Moment Special donation to buy shop equipment to promote Willow’s Take Time for Tea campaign in its shop window.

The campaign is a chance to fundraise for the charity by spending time with family and friends enjoying tea and cake – at work, at school or at home.

Willow shop manager Stephanie O’Connor said: “This is a huge boost for our shop. Like all charity shops, we run on a shoestring so generous support like this is invaluable, benefitting from both the funds and the retail expertise of a big chain like M&S.

“To be chosen to take part in this project because of a Special Day makes it extra special – it’s testament to the long term positive impact of a Special Day that Michelle is supporting us so many years later.”

Welwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer colleagues donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOOWelwyn Garden City's Marks and Spencer colleagues donated their time and money to the Willow Foundation shop to help decorate their front window display. Picture: DANNY LOO

For more information about Take Time for Tea visit willowfoundation.org.uk/tea

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