Express & Star

Cash-strapped hospice relieved charity shop saved from flames after arson

Yobs who set fire to clothes left outside a charity shop which could have destroyed the entire building have been branded as "mindless" by shocked customers.

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The burnt entrance to Mary Stevens Hospice Stourbridge shop

Staff at Mary Stevens Hospice's shop, Stourbridge High Street, were shocked and upset to see the fire damaged doorway on Monday morning. The blaze comes in a tough week for the Stourbridge based hospice which bosses revealed was under financial pressure due to rising running costs with donation destroyed by arsonists more important than ever.

However, faith was restored in human nature by a guest staying at the Talbot Hotel who spotted the smoke and extinguished the fire before it took hold.

Mary Stevens staff posted on Facebook: "We are proud to serve our Community with our charity shops, situated on the high Streets of the Black Country. We receive fabulous donations from our generous supporters and turn them into regular income used to provide vital care for our patients, free of charge.

"Imagine our shock on Monday morning when we arrived to find that donations that had been left in the doorway of our Stourbridge High Street shop had been set alight on Sunday evening, damaging our door and of course, ensuring that the kindness of one of or donors had gone to waste."

The hospice, praised the brave hotel guest who stopped a potential inferno.

They said: "The fire brigade was called but luckily a gentleman staying in The Talbot Hotel had seen the smoke and managed to put the fire out, we are very grateful to him for stopping what could have been a potentially devastating incident for both the historical building and the care we provide here at the hospice."

People who want to donate clothes and other goods to hospice shops have been warned not to leave them outside when the shop is closed, as theft is a common occurrence.

They said: "We would like to take the opportunity to remind our loyal donors and customers not to leave donations outside our shops when they are closed, it’s sad to say, but not everyone is as kind as you!"

Mary Stevens Hospice has been part of the Black Country community for decades and friends in its support network were shocked.

Claire Roberts said: "Oh My God. Absolutely disgraceful and mindless behaviour by whoever did this! Well done to the gentleman who saw this and tackled the fire."

Joanne Skelding added: "This is a mindless act of vandalism, I struggle to understand why someone would do that! Thank goodness for the observance of the gentlemen."

Chief executive of Mary Stevens Hospice Claire Towns fears the growing gap between Government funding and the cost of care for those nearing the end of life.

Currently Government grants only covers 18 per cent of the hospice’s annual running costs of £3.4 million a year – but that some others get 30 per cent.

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