Reuniting lost goods with their rightful owner… behind the scenes at the St Ouen’s Fundraising Shop – Julie Jubb, Senior Shop Manager

What do you do when someone drops something off at the Hospice fundraising shop but, as you unpack it, you realise perhaps they’ve included something that they hadn’t intended to donate?

Earlier this summer, our team at the Hospice Shop in St Ouen received a large donation of household items which included a beautiful dinner service complete with dinner and cake plates, lidded serving dish and a single gravy boat. However, as one of our volunteers unpacked it, they discovered two bundles of brand new bank notes tucked inside a serving bowl.  While we sometimes find unusual things lurking at the bottom of boxes or tucked into pockets, this was altogether different.Julie stood with the dinner service

We were pretty sure that the donor hadn’t intended to donate this money, and may want it back.

When our Chief Executive, Emelita Robbins was told about the discovery of the money she was keen to find out who the rightful owner was.

We decided to turn to social media and launch an urgent appeal to “return a personal item” to the owner of the service. As each item was quite distinctive, with a red rim and a festive white border of ivy leaves and stars, we were hopeful that someone would recognise it. We put up a post on Facebook with a picture of one of the plates and a message asking the original owner to get in touch.

The weekend passed and we didn’t hear anything and so we talked about doing a media release and a radio shoutout, but then I received a personal message from someone locally who said that she recognised the plate because she owned the gravy boat!

It turned out that Sonia and her husband had been friends for many years with a lady who had passed away earlier this year. When her friend’s son came over the Island to clear his mother’s house, they had popped to water the plants and say hello while he was packing. Over friendly conversation, he asked if she would like to have the gravy boat which she was delighted to accept.

Sonia offered to get in touch with her friend as he was unlikely to have seen the messages on social media and within a few hours I was speaking with him. It was a very emotional call. It had been hard to donate the dinner service as it held many strong family memories but he had no space for it at his home. He was really surprised to hear that his mother had saved so much money and tucked it away in a dish. We had a lovely conversation – he told me how pleased he was to have supported Hospice and that he really appreciated the offer to return the money to him.

When Emelita heard that we had successfully contacted the donor, she said “since the end of lockdown we’ve received so many wonderful donations from the community. The bundles of notes were an unexpected find with the items donated from a house clearance. We are so glad to have been able to get in touch with the donor and return his mum’s savings to him. It’s amazing to see the positive power of social media and the dedication of our staff and volunteers who helped bring this story to a happy end”.

So, if you’re out and about in St Ouen this month, do pop into the Hospice shop as we have a stunning dinner service for sale, with a single gravy boat.

Gravy boat from the collection