Tŷ Hafan’s shop in Aberdare has recently celebrated not only 25 years of trading but also being at the very heart of the Cynon Valley community.

The shop at 6 Cardiff Street first opened its doors on 29 September 1997 and was one of the first shops set up to help the then-new charity to help to raise funds to build what would become Wales’ first dedicated children’s hospice.

Having served, and been served by, loyal local community members ever since then, Tŷ Hafan Aberdare is now one of the charity’s longest running retail outlets.

Barbara Baker and Susan Lawrence are two of the shop’s longest serving volunteers.

“It had been in my mind to think about volunteering as I wanted something to do after my mother died,” remembers Barbara, 71. “I knew the Tŷ Hafan shop had not long opened in the town and I went in there to buy some curtain poles. I ended up coming out having agreed to volunteer Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and I’ve been doing it ever since.

“It’s a sociable thing to do. Lots of talking to people. Plus, you are doing a good thing for a good charity.

“People are very generous and it’s a busy shop and it’s a social hub too. People don’t just donate things, or buy things. They come in and tell us what’s going on in their lives, the good things and any problems or worries that they may have.

“And we remember what they’ve said the next time they come in and we always check in on them to see how they are doing. I love it.”

Susan, 60 has been a volunteer for 23 years. “It was a rainy day and the manageress at the time, who I had been at school with, waved at me through the window and asked me to become a volunteer,” she remembers. “She said to fill a form in and bring it back straight away which I did.

“The shop is still the same as the day it opened. A lot of volunteers have come and gone but I still enjoy working in the shop and I have made lots of friends.”

Susan has been sorting through donations to the popular shop for over 20 years and describes being “overwhelmed by the hospice and the care provided” after a tour of Tŷ Hafan’s hospice in Sully.

Shop manager Stacey Dyer has been working for Tŷ Hafan for 12 years and has managed the Aberdare shop for the past seven.

“On the day of our anniversary, we treated the day like any other day, striving to make as much money as we can for the hospice as we can.

“People are definitely worse off now than they were when I first came here because of the current circumstances” she says.

“Footfall has fallen due to the shop closures in town and takings are not what they used to be but the community spirit is still going strong.

“My motto is ‘Clean, fresh, full.’

“I am ever so thankful for our wonderful community and for their generous donations. Thank you to our customers who spend their money here and for our wonderful volunteers who give their time. We could not do what we do without the support of them all.

“Here’s to the next 25 years!”