In 1965 a small group of friends, led by Peggy Percival, the wife of the City Architect at that time, negotiated the use of part of one of the Norwich city centre shops in order to sell Christmas Cards in support of their favourite charities.
That first year about £2000 was raised and our organisation was born.
Since then this group of friends and helpers has enlarged to almost a hundred but the aim is still the same - to raise money for our chosen charities.
We lead an extremely precarious existence in that, as we function for less than three months each year, we have no permanent residence and each season begins with the search for accommodation.
There are many tales about the funny little shops from which we have sold our cards - one on Timberhill had no loo and nowhere to make the essential cup of coffee, so a deal was struck with the local pub - we used their loo, buying our coffees there in exchange. Another, also on Timberhill, had a kettle which was situated directly under the fire alarm - with inevitable results.
We sell Christmas Cards, calendars, diaries, gift wrap, candles and similar, on behalf of twenty two charities. Some are International, like Save the Children, some are national, such as Amnesty while others are local, like the Norwich Foodbank and the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
All our charities are people-related. It has always been our aim to give every penny taken back to these charities which we are able to do by keeping our overheads as low as possible.
Over the years the operation of the group has depended on committed charity representatives, shop team leaders and volunteers and a small committee.
All our team members are volunteers meaning we employ no salaried staff; team members donate gifts to make a Christmas Hamper which is raffled to raise enough money to pay the running costs.
We now take cheques or credit/debit cards which can be contact-less up to £45.00.
The fun and friendship generated lasts throughout the year and we are so proud that our efforts have to date raised a figure fast approaching £2,000,000 - yes, almost TWO million pounds!
Chairman's Introduction, and a summing up of Christmas 2020...
Those of us who have been involved for a long time have often said that every year is different for ONCCCS and indeed our locations have varied - small and large, smart and scruffy, cold and warm but none of us could have envisaged the changes needed for 2020.
We were grateful for the opportunity offered by St Peter Mancroft but had no idea how well it would work out.
Of course, our total sum raised was only about half that of recent years but when we were open despite less charities and shorter hours, we took more money than the equivalent days last year and participating organisations were happy to have the chance to raise funds in this unusual and challenging financial climate.
When we opened in October we did not know we would have to close for what is usually our busiest time mid-session, but our wonderful volunteers rallied round and helped us pack up and then came back to help us open up again!
We went over to a system with less cash and of course had to cope with all the COVID-19 precautions - masks, gloves, sanitising and the like but still we managed.
When we had to think about a raffle we wondered about how it could be possible but again somehow it worked with the very substantial sum of £742 raised (only £40 less than 2019) with all hampers collected and appreciated. Thank you all for contributions and special thanks to Chris and Linda for not only preparing the lovely hampers but shopping for them too.
Our expenses were higher than some years with the Sum Up card machine and new banners and slightly increased insurance, but we are fortunate in having more than adequate reserves.
So, a most enormous THANK YOU to everyone who helped in any way. Staff and volunteers at St Peter Mancroft certainly made life easier for Liz and me showing the same kind of flexibility whilst strict adherence to rules which we saw from our volunteers and were the key to this year’s success.
A special thank you to Sue Marshall our Treasurer who is giving up this year; she has worked so hard with all the changes and has a poorly husband too. Many thanks to those long-time volunteers who are giving up this year; I have appreciated their support in the last few years. We are fortunate in having a good team of new volunteers and I am especially grateful to Linda and Philip Hunt: to Liz (and her family) who despite a bereavement and moving house did so much and to Enid who worked wonders with an ever-changing rota and whose daughter helped so much with publicity.
At our Zoom AGM the committee were re-elected with the splitting of the Secretary role with Jacky Brooks taking over admin.work and Liz staying as ‘Logistics’ i.e., practical work in setting up the shop. We are looking for a new Treasurer and would welcome any suggestions.
Like the rest of the world, we do not know what life will be like by this autumn but as last year when we began our plans with hope and faith we trust that with your support we can do our bit to help these so worthwhile good causes in 2021.
St Peter Mancroft have invited us back and the committee and card reps at our Zoom AGM were unanimous in agreeing that we should accept their invitation and work with them. IF all goes well we will have special opportunities with their own events such as the popular Christmas Tree Festival - so something to look forward to in these continuing dark lockdown days.
When we were having problems, St Peter Mancroft verger reminded us of Norwich’s own medieval Mother Julian:
All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
Christmas 2020 (Christmas 2019)
Total takings £17,696.86 (£28,596.85)
Postage stamps: £0.00 (£2,562)
Raffle: £742 (£786)
Donations: £118.06 (£326.65)
Sum distributed to the Charities: £17,816.48 (£28,715.37)
Thanking all customers & volunteers - and looking forward to returning to St Peter Mancroft for Christmas 2021!