Lady Thatcher’s note turned to gold at Oxfam shop celebrating ten years

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
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A HANDWRITTEN note from Lady Thatcher which helped to raise money for charity has been chosen as one of the highlights of staff at a Capital Oxfam store as it celebrates its tenth anniversary.

The shop in Nicholson Street which was opened by Scots author Christopher Brookmyre, recently celebrated its landmark anniversary.

Oxfam volunteers, from left, Kate Calder, Rory McNish andLiz Logie at the store

Oxfam volunteers, from left, Kate Calder, Rory McNish andLiz Logie at the store

And over its ten years it has been served by more than 300 volunteers and raised £1.3 million to help some of the world’s poorest people

Its most intriguing donation was the rare personal message from Margaret Thatcher found within a signed first edition of her memoirs, The Downing Street Years, sent to the shop in 1993. It went on to raise £150 at auction.

Written on headed paper from the former Prime Minister’s first post-resignation residence in London, the book and note were uncovered within a large donation of political memoirs.

The note read: “I know it is a bit early for your birthday – but I think you should have it now. As ever, Margaret.”

First opened on December 14, 2002, the music and book shop has raised a remarkable £1.32m over the time – equivalent to 860,000 water and sanitation units in Bangladesh or 491,000 school kits in the Philippines.

Jo Christison, who was the shop’s first manager and who now serves as an area manager for Oxfam in Scotland, said: “We are all delighted with the success of the Nicholson Street shop over the past ten years. It hardly seems like ten years since we opened in 2002. I must thank all of our volunteers for their great efforts over this time.”

This message was echoed by current manager, David Hendrie, who added: “The Edinburgh public have been very generous in its support. I hope that they can continue to give us such fantastic donations as well spending what they can with us.”

Apart from political mementoes, the shop has seen some other remarkable events in its ten years; in early 2005, after the Asian tsunami, staff worked with the Edinburgh Playhouse to collect just under £100,000 from generous theatre-goers attending performances of Mama Mia.

Later that year, a rare signed book by the Edinburgh man behind the famous Ecurie Ecosse motor racing team, Ron Flockhart, also raised several hundred pounds at auction.

The shop’s most kind-hearted donation yet, however, is thought to be a vast comic book collection left by an anonymous Gilmerton man, who was leaving Edinburgh for the Far East in 2009. He walked into the shop and offered to handover his lifetime collection of comics – it took two car trips to ferry the entire haul back to the shop and to date the collection has raised more than £6000.

The shop even has its own Oxfam wedding to boast of after two former volunteers, Lauren McKie and Andrew Moss, who met on the Make Poverty History march in 2005, were married in 2010.