STAFF at the Great Oaks Hospice charity shop in Coleford were left shaken by a skip fire next to the shop just days before it was due to open after a major refurbishment.

A skip and a large commercial rubbish bin were set on fire on Friday, August 25.

Pauline Fosbery, the head of retail at the hospice, said: “It was a shock to find a smouldering and smoke filled area and ash and debris around the car park.

“The volunteers were worried that all their hard work for the charity had gone up in flames when they first hear that there had been a fire, but luckily the skip and bin were slightly away from the building at the time.

“The team of shop fitters helped to clear away the debris so that the shop car park was safe to enter.

“The Biffa lorry had arrived to collect the bin as normal, the lorry usually can lift half a tonne of weight but due to the amount of water that had been used to put out the fire by the fire brigade the lorry would not lift the bin, the shop fitters had to drill holes to let the water out.

“The volunteers are bewildered in why someone could do this, but also upset to think that if the bins had been closer to the building all their hard work would have been lost as well as the new refurbishment, leading to no funding to the hospice for a longer period of time.

“Being dedicated & passionate in why they volunteer for Great Oaks, they were so looking forward to their new shop opening, and this just for a short while dampened their spirits.

The shop re-opened on Wednesday (August 30) with young volunteer Olivia Hunt performing the official opening.

Olivia recently made her filming debut in a recent advert for McDonald’s with the “eyebrows”

Pauline said: “She – and her eyebrows – were delighed to be asked to open the shop.”

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Gloucestershire Police on 101 quoting incident 49 of August 25.