A GRATEFUL charity has praised Thornburians for the unflagging support and boundless generosity without which hundreds of terminally-ill patients would have been left helpless and alone at one of the most traumatic and distressing times in their lives.

Volunteers at the St Peter's Hospice shop in Thornbury raised more than £500,000 over the past ten years, an incredible sum which has helped bring cancer sufferers relief in their last moments but also hope to their bereaved families and friends.

And for this the store team is sending out its warmest thanks to its loyal band of local supporters.

Head of St Peter's Hospice 46 stores, Janet Loud told the Gazette: "We are very grateful to people in the community because we couldn't do it without them. Together we can make a difference."

She added: "We want to thank the public for donating such lovely items to us. You could have the next Christian Dior bag or regular Marks and Spencer's items."

In fact, supporters have been so active in the town that the High Street shop made history by raising a record-breaking £100,000 in just 12 months last year.

Jenny Carlyle, from Thornbury, was one of the very first volunteers at the hospice shop when it opened its doors 21 years ago.

The store has undergone many changes over the last two decades, including a move further up the High Street in 2003, the introduction of a cash register and modern technology and managers, she said. But the one constant has been locals' unfailing support.

"People are very generous in the town and I think it's a popular charity shop because most people in their lives will have had a relative or friends die in the hospice.

"It's a wonderful charity which helps everybody."

Together, all 46 shops must collect £6.9 million to allow cancer sufferers in the region to receive essential care from St Peter's nurses.

Assistant manager Jan Bath, from Charfield, experienced firsthand the necessity of community fundraising.

The 50-year-old joined the shop team two years ago, a few short months after her mother-in-law Mary, a patient at the hospice, died.

"When my mother-in-law was diagnosed I knew that, because we lived around the corner, we would be taking care of her and I was scared to death but knowing that the hospice was there to help, I felt relieved.

"One you've seen what they do firsthand you always have allegiance to them. You don't know when you might need it."

The shop is always looking for volunteers. To get involved call 01454 418610.