A FORMER customer service officer who has launched his own shoe business is planning a charity day at Tamworth’s Ankerside Shopping Centre.
Simon Natt will donate takings from his shop Oh Pair on June 30 to Macmillans Cancer Support, to say thanks for the help given to his gran as she overcame the disease.
The 35-year-old is also hoping that shoppers will make their own donations to the charity, which provides healthcare, financial and emotional support for those living with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
He has just opened the store selling women’s fashion shoes, bags and accessories, after spending three months hunting for the right location.
“The shop was full on the very first day and it’s been pretty busy ever since,”
said Simon, who previously worked in customer service in Wolverhampton plus ran his own telecoms company.
“We’ve had great feedback from everyone so far and I always said that if the business does well I wanted to give something back and do something for charity.”
His 80-year-old gran Gurdev Kaur was treated for breast cancer and successfully fought the disease off, only to have it return last year meaning further surgery followed by gruelling chemotherapy.
Simon said: “Gran’s doing really well now so we knew we wanted to do something for a cancer charity. I’ve also had friends and family who haven’t survived like Gran has, so it’s an obvious choice and we know what good work Macmillan Cancer Support does.
“So on June 30 we’ll have all the balloons and collection buckets out and for that day we’ll give 60 per cent of all takings to the charity.
“I’ve seen what Gran went through – all the chemo and stuff knocked her about a bit and she lost all her hair. It made her really weak too and she’s a bit skinny now. But she’s a fighter!
“She still has to have regular check-ups and take medication but she’s doing a lot better and her hair is starting to come back now.”
Ankerside Shopping Centre manager Pete Barber has offered his support for the fund-raising day at Oh Pair.
“It is good to see retailers such as Simon planning to give something back to the community. I know that Macmillans is a charity that is supported by many of our shoppers, as they are always generous when we host the Big Coffee Mornings in September.
“I hope they will be equally as generous on June 30 with Simon’s fund-raising day.
“I am delighted to welcome him to Ankerside. Independent businesses such as Oh Pair adds to the retail offer and services available at Ankerside, and give people yet another reason to visit Tamworth.”
Simon said that he chose Ankerside Shopping Centre after visiting many town centres in Staffordshire and the West Midlands.
He explained: “We did a lot of research in to what sells and what doesn’t and getting the location right was key. When we looked in to it there wasn’t another shoe shop like this in Tamworth – people had to go into Lichfield or Burton – so we knew it would go down well here.
“And it really has so far. Loads of people have come in for a look or just to say that they’re happy to see us here.”
Simon, who lives in Dudley Port with his wife and two daughters, has been joined in the business by a partner, and will also have help from his wife, who has years of experience in retail.
He said: “She told me loads about retail and the industry and I also have a cousin who has a shoe shop so I went and spent some time there with him for research.
“I previously ran my own import-export business in telecoms so I knew already all about setting up a business and overheads and everything so I’m pretty confident about how this will go.
“I’m in the middle of setting up our website and Facebook page too so it’s just a question of letting everyone know we’re here now really,” he added.
Debbie Rushbrooke of Macmillan Cancer Support said: “We are very grateful to Simon for his support, by donating his takings from Oh Pair and by raising awareness of the work that the charity carries out.
“The different ways in which people raise funds for us is always surprising, so we can continue to support and future those who are living with cancer at this difficult time in their lives.
“One in two people will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, Macmillan is working to ensure that as the demand for cancer services rises, people affected by cancer wherever they are in the UK, have access to the best cancer information and support in their local community.”
Ankerside Shopping Centre, open daily, is home to 60 stores, from fashion, health and beauty to services and food and drink, and has more than 700 parking spaces. More details at www.ankerside.co.uk