VOLUNTEERS have spoken of their sadness at a Ministry of Defence decision to close a garrison thrift shop that has been a community hub for 50 years.

The Catterick Garrison Thrift Shop has been at its Horne Road site for a number of years, but today (Thursday, July 17) must close its doors for good.

The store, run entirely by volunteers, enables military and civilian residents to bring in any unwanted clothes, toys or household goods and receive a percentage of the sale price, with the rest going to small local charities.

Jill Crosbie, chairwoman of the Thrift Shop, said: “Unfortunately, the MoD needs the building we occupy back and there is no other building for us to use.

“We have been very lucky to have a building for so long – and rent-free – but now we have to close for good.

“We found out about a month ago and we are very sad to see it go. Some customers and volunteers have been here for 30 years and it will be a real loss.

“Customers who sell goods get about 70 per cent back and the rest goes to our charities, which have included ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Scottie’s Little Soldiers and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Richmond.

“On average we raise around £5,000 to give back to the charities, which we change every year.”

Mrs Crosbie, who has been volunteering at the shop for about seven years, said generations of Army spouses have used the shop and kept coming back even when their partners had retired.

Colonel Stephen Padgett, Commander of Catterick Garrison, said: “I am saddened the Thrift shop will close, but I would like to recognise Jill Crosbie and the Thrift Shop team and thank them for many years of dedicated service to both the Garrison and local community.”

He added that the MoD must make best use of its estate and that there was a need to create an accessible welfare hub on the Horne Road site for serving personnel and families.

He said: “Unfortunately, this means we cannot continue to provide these buildings to the Thrift Shop as we have done, rent free, for a number of years.”

All remaining items in the shop will be collected by Great North Air Ambulance for its charity shop.