IT WAS all hands to the pump when a water leak threatened to postpone the long-awaited opening of a hospice charity shop.

Manager Jenny Park, of the Mowden branch of St T’s, in Darlington, spotted the ceiling had collapsed and water pouring through from the flat above on the eve of the shop reopening its doors.

So she had to go in for an emergency deep clean of the charity shop, which had been forced to close 14 weeks earlier by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was walking my dog at the weekend and just had a quick look in to make sure everything was ok,” said Jenny.

“I saw the tiles hanging down and on the floor because water was leaking from a pipe above. Luckily the till was covered so it wasn’t ruined but the carpet was sodden and the wet ceiling tiles had turned to mush, which were really difficult to clean up.”

Mowden is one of a chain of stores operated by St Teresa’s Hospice, which provides free day, in-patient and community care, as well as family support and bereavement counselling, for people living with life-limiting illnesses and their families in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

The work of the shops is essential for the organisation to meet running costs of over £3m a year. The financial lifeline was severed by lockdown prompting the launch of an emergency appeal to make up the shortfall of takings and sponsorship lost from the cancellation of countless events. Donations can still be made at www.justgiving.com/campaign/hugtostts.

Jenny said: “The shop maintenance people were very good at shutting off the leak and after I’d spent six hours cleaning up we were able to open as planned.

“It has been strange not coming to work and it is lovely to hear that everyone has been missing us. It is such a busy shop and we get to know our regulars really well.”

The shop is open from 11am to 3pm, Monday to Saturday. At the moment, because of COVID-19 restrictions, all donations must be dropped off at the St T’s Superstore and warehouse in McMullen Road.

Donations must be contained in a box or bag and the hospice is unable to accept any furniture at the moment because of storage issues.