DEVOTED volunteers said an emotional goodbye when a charity shop closed for the final time.
The Donna Claire outlet, on Sea Road, has sold the last of its stock and shut up shop, marking the end of an era.
For nearly 25 years, the popular volunteer-run shop has helped raise vital funds to keep the Donna Claire Venture in Seaburn alive.
But following in the footsteps of the life-line holiday home for people with severe disabilities, which closed in December, the Fulwell shop has now shut.
Elizabeth Bute, who has worked there since it opened, said: “Sea Road will never be the same without this shop.
“The customers have loved this shop and found friendship in us all.
“It has been a treasure to work with Donna Claire and it is a real shame this has happened.”
Geraldine Plunkett, who founded Donna Claire with Audrey Turnbull in 1984, today paid tribute to the staff and customers who strongly supported the shop.
“We have always had a very loyal and good bond with the volunteers and we are very grateful to every volunteer we have had.
“We would like to thank every person who has volunteered here, and everybody who has supported our shop because they have been important.”
A volunteer of nine years, Elizabeth Fenwick,said: “We have all been very happy here and I’m desperately upset that we’ve closed.”
The shop quickly became a popular fixture on Sea Road after opening in 1987.
As donations flooded in, stock for sale soon spread into the back room.
Seventeen years ago, they started renting upstairs, giving them more room to sell their goods.
Geraldine said: “The support had been amazing and people have helped in every way they can by buying things and donating goods. We’ve never had to seek stock.
“We’d also like to thank the landlord, who hasn’t raised our rent in the last 17 years.”
The Donna Claire Venture was forced to close in December after funds dried up, but the shop remained open to sell off stock.
The much-loved home was saved from the axe in 2008 after the Echo launched a fund-raising drive, which saw readers dig deep to raise £100,000.
An anonymous donor was touched by the respite home’s plight and gave £8,500 to give the then shabby shop a revamp.