A NEW chapter has started for a Basingstoke hospice after it opened its ninth charity shop – its first in the town centre.

Bosses at St Michael’s Hospice have wanted to open one of its retail stores in Basingstoke town centre for a while, and the ambition became a reality on Monday when a new shop in Wote Street was officially opened.

Tony James, breakfast host on The Breeze radio station, was at the opening ceremony to help pull in more people to browse round the new store.

Annie Peters, head of retail for the hospice, in Aldermaston Road, cut the ribbon before shoppers were allowed inside.

Miss Peters said: “We wanted to be in the hub of the local community in the town centre. With rising costs at the hospice, we needed to expand our fundraising efforts, and the shops keep income coming in.”

The nine hospice shops, including one at Brighton Hill, Basingstoke, generate around £800,000 of the £3million the hospice needs to operate each year.

Iain Cameron, director of income generation at St Michael’s, said: “St Michael’s Hospice provides care for patients in the north Hampshire area with life-limiting illnesses. We not only care for patients but we care for carers and families involved. It’s all offered free of charge to patients but it costs £3m every year to run.”

He urged people to support the new shop, adding: “You are not only getting a bargain, but you are helping people in the area.”

The shop will open Monday to Saturday from 9am until 4.30pm, and there are plans for it to also open on Sundays from April.

St Michael’s is now looking for volunteers to help run the shop, and anyone interested should pop in to find out more.