A Burntwood mum and daughter who were supported by St Giles Hospice when a family member was diagnosed with cancer are to be guests of honour at the opening of the charity’s new shop in the town next week.

Millie McQuillan, aged 13, and her mum Lesley will cut the ribbon as the doors are opened for the first time at the store at Burntwood Retail, on Milestone Way on Friday, 2nd August at 10am.

The family are delighted to be supporting St Giles as the charity’s Phoenix bereavement support service for families helped Millie through a really difficult time when her father Neil died in 2017 aged 46, just months after being diagnosed with cancer.

Millie said: “My dad was kind, generous and really funny and he would always make me laugh when I was upset and hadn’t had a good day at school. I found out he had cancer two months before my 11th birthday and he lived for four months after that.

“When Dad died, I was so upset and angry and emotional and it never stopped no matter how hard I tried. My mum is really supportive and caring but I knew I needed to look after her as well and to make sure that she was OK.

“Because I had been to see Jodie – who is one of the Phoenix team – before Dad died, I knew it could make me feel better. I kept all those emotions inside for so long that they went up like a bottle of pop and all came out in the sessions with Jodie. They built up for so long and then I let it out and Jodie encouraged me to be myself again.

“And that’s what Phoenix did for me, it made me understand it was OK to feel all those emotions like sadness and anger and to miss Dad so much. But it also made me feel like me again.”

Lesley added that the support of St Giles had been invaluable through Neil’s final days and that the Phoenix team had really helped the family as they grieved following his death.

“As soon as Neil was diagnosed we had a visit from Helen, the St Giles Community Nurse and for me it meant I always had someone I could ring up and ask what to do. There was always support on the end of a phone if we needed it at any time,” she said.

“Seeing Jodie has helped Millie so much. We talk more now and she can express how she feels.”

St Giles Hospice has a network of 31 charity shops located across its catchment area, as well as an online eBay shop. Every item bought in the shops helps St Giles to provide care for local people and their families living with a potentially incurable illness.

The new Burntwood shop will be open seven-days-a-week and its wide range of stock will include children’s designer clothing, a large home and furniture department and an extensive ladies’ fashion range, as well as household items, bric-a-brac, DVDs, books and small electrical goods.

Head of Retail at St Giles Hospice, Lynwen Truesdale, said: “We are delighted to welcome Millie and Lesley to be the first guests to enter our new store, to join us in highlighting how our shops help to fund the fantastic care offered to people in our community by St Giles Hospice.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming new customers and donors as well, to see for themselves the fantastic range of goods we sell.

“We would also love to hear from anyone who would like to volunteer in the new shop – we are open seven days a week, so we have lots of opportunities in a range of roles to suit everyone and full training will be given.”

Anyone who would like to help can give the shop a call on 01543 676040 or pop in to speak to the team after opening day.