A CHARITY shop in Didcot is closing this year as the building is being demolished due to asbestos.

Changing Lives, at the bottom of Broadway, has been in the town for almost a decade. It provides relief for those in need by making grants and donations to individuals and organisations through the profits earned in the shop.

Founder Valerie Prior is devastated about the issues with the building, which also includes damage to the roof, and says people who visit the store “are like family” to her.

Herald Series: The store is due to be demolished in October this year.The store is due to be demolished in October this year.

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She said: “We haven’t reached this decision ourselves – even though the building is a bit tatty but it does the job – it was the landlord who decided they are going to knock it down.

“We’ve had problems with the roof for a while, especially when there is a storm, and they are saying the building is now unsafe due to asbestos.

“Someone offered to fix the roof for us for free which I told the landlord but they didn’t want to bend.

“I desperately tried to save it, I really did, but the landlord said it is not just the roof it’s the whole building.

“I know the landlord didn’t like telling me and she knew how upset I would be. When they knock it down I think I will be in tears as the store is a like a baby to me.”

Herald Series: Valerie Prior with her family outside the store in Broadway, Didcot.Valerie Prior with her family outside the store in Broadway, Didcot.

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The building was due to be knocked down this month but Miss Prior managed to get the demolition date moved to October.

She hopes to find another location in the town to move to but is concerned she would not be able to find a building the same size with affordable.

“I can’t find another building that wouldn’t cost me thousands and thousands in rent,” she said. “I’ve tried to find some in the town but I’m not going to find something with the same square footage.

“My aim is to stay in Didcot definitely. Our Wantage store ticks over nicely but no where near as Didcot.

“It’s like a family here, it’s so sad. It’s such a friendly place and we offered customers coffee when they came in – it was a like a community hub.”

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The store, which has 15 employees and volunteers, mostly sells new and second-hand goods including books, DVDS, household electrical items, furniture and more.

Miss Prior set up a second store in Church Street in Wantage to take the pressure off the Didcot store.

“Our fingers are crossed that we can find somewhere new,” she said.


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