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Chelmsford fundraisers Roy Brett and his pet pooch, Buster CRUK, are urging everyone to donate their lockdown clear-outs to Cancer Research UK Essex shops

27 Apr Chelmsford fundraisers Roy Brett and his pet pooch, Buster CRUK, are urging everyone to donate their lockdown clear-outs to Cancer Research UK Essex shops

The dynamic fundraising duo are urging people to help the region’s Cancer Research UK shops get back to the business of beating cancer as restrictions on non-essential retail lift from April 12.

Over the past eight years, Roy Brett (69) and Buster (5), have raised a staggering £20k with collections outside many of Cancer Research UK’s  Essex stores.

 Buster who poses in a variety of different outfits while collecting money including a pirate and policeman costume, is a popular sight with children and shoppers. Roy is appealing for lockdown de-clutterers to dig out and drop off donations to try and claw back millions of pounds in lost sales. He said he was motivated to raise as much as he can in memory of his mother-in-law who died from cancer and for his best friend who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.

 Roy, who also works as shop volunteer for the charity and has previously been invited to the House of Lords in recognition of his charity work, added: “People love to see Buster sat outside the stores and are happy to donate some change as a sign of their appreciation. Cancer Research UK is such a worthy cause and needs our help more than ever, the pandemic has had a huge impact in revenue and subsequent research funding.”

 Staff and volunteers are rolling up their sleeves But they urgently need help to fill the shelves with new or pre-loved bargains, fashion one-offs and homeware treasures once more to help fund research that could save more lives.

Cancer Research UK expects to see its fundraising income decline by a staggering £300m over the next three years, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But with around  36,800 people diagnosed with cancer every year in the East of England*, the charity is determined to continue its mission.

Roy continued: “It’s thanks to improved treatments that many people diagnosed with cancer can enjoy more precious time with my loved ones. So, as a regular shop volunteer at  the Cancer Research UK shop in Chelmsford it was terrible to see it have to close again. It’s upsetting to think about less money being available for research and what this could mean for the future.

“That’s why I’ve had a clear out and I’ve got a bag of things I no longer need ready to drop off at the shop. I hope that, like me, people across Chelmsford and Essex will be inspired by the charity’s commitment to carry on beating cancer and put their lockdown tidying to good use – they really could help to save lives.”

 Every bag of donated items could raise up to £25 or £31 with Gift Aid if the donor is a UK taxpayer.

Its customers are a critical part of helping to get research back on track, so strict measures are being followed at all of the charity’s store to ensure a safe shopping experience.

These include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, cough guards at till points and face coverings for shop staff and volunteers, as well as additional cleaning.

Now the shop’s doors are open once again, Chelmsford store manager, Dee Whitehead, is hoping for a sunnier outlook and is specifically calling for donations of men, women and children’s summer clothing ready for the Great British staycation.

She said: “COVID-19 has hit us hard. Our shops typically contribute more than £25 million each year to vital research, so we’re grateful to Roy and Buster for rallying the community to help us fight back.

“We’re calling on everyone who’s had a spring-clean, wardrobe detox or cupboard clear out in lockdown to please bag up and bring in any unwanted items.

“Right now, we need quality clothing and shoes, ideally for this season, as well as homeware, books and accessories to help keep our tills – and bargain hunters – busy. Most important of all, the sale of these items helps to ensure we can keep making progress for people with cancer.”

Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of the progress that has seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity currently funds around 50% of all publicly funded cancer research in the UK and is the only UK charity fighting more than 200 types of the disease.

Dee added: “One in two people will get cancer in their lifetime**, which is why we’re absolutely determined to continue to create better cancer treatments for tomorrow.

 “Our research has played a role in developing 8 of the world’s top 10 cancer drugs and we’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. But we can’t do it alone.

“Every step our scientists take towards beating cancer relies on every pound raised. So, whether they shop, donate or volunteer their time – with the help of people in Chelmsford we believe that together we will beat cancer.”

Cancer Research UK was able to spend over £60 million in the East of England last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

 Donated goods for the Chelmsford store Cancer Research UK shop on Moulsham Street can be dropped off from 10am-4.30pm. Shop staff recommend phoning ahead before visiting, as safety measures may mean that storage space is limited.