Haverhill shopkeeper brings extra Christmas cheer to families

From left: Sue Vallis (Craft Basket owner), Ann Merrigan (REACH), Anne Jones, Anna Richardson and her partner Chris Coode ANL-151222-103540001
From left: Sue Vallis (Craft Basket owner), Ann Merrigan (REACH), Anne Jones, Anna Richardson and her partner Chris Coode ANL-151222-103540001
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Some families in Haverhill will have a brighter Christmas thanks to the generosity of town shop owner Sue Vallis and one of her regular customers, Anne Jones.

Five Haverhill families, all of whom have financial difficulties due to unforeseen circumstances, have received festive windfalls after the Craft Basket in Queen’s Square raised £800 and donated it to REACH Community Projects, which includes Haverhill Foodbank.

Two of the lucky recipients, Anna Richardson and her partner Chris Coode, dropped in to the shop last Friday (18), where Anna said: “The generous gift from Anne and Sue at Craft Basket will help us over and beyond Christmas time.

“This means so much to our family, and will help us all to have a much better Christmas as the two wonderful women have alleviated the pressure. “Merry Christmas and thank you.”

Sue explained that Anne knits toys throughout the year which are then sold in her shop, with the proceeds going to REACH. Sue also raises further monies by selling old patterns and raffling off some of Anne’s toys at Christmas.

“We’ve done it for three years,” said Sue.

“Normally we just use the raffle and do it like that but this year we’ve done it throughout the year.”

The families that receive the donations are identified and chosen by REACH and because more money has been raised at the shop this year than in previous years, more families have benefitted.

Sue added: “We wanted a local charity, not a big charity.

“We wanted to help local people that are struggling. I phoned REACH to ask ‘have you got any families that could do with a bit of help at Christmas.’

“We stipulated that they have to be local families and families with children. Hard times can fall on anybody when it’s not their fault.”

Henry Wilson, the projects manager at REACH, said: “It does remain very tough out there for quite a number of families struggling with all kinds of issues from low income and high rents, ill health and mental health, along with the general pressures of life in general. “But as ever, the people of Haverhill and surrounding villages have demonstrated time and time how generous we really are and it’s great to be able to alleviate some of that pressure, especially at Christmas time.”