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Mindful Gifts open their first shop


Yesterday I went to the official  opening of the first Mindful Gifts shop in Darlaston, that specialises in gifts for older people with dementia. Mindful Gifts is a community interest company that operates for the benefit of the community, rather than personal gain.

The founder, Vicki Phipps worked in health and social care as a senior manager and developed services to enable people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes.

The shop was formally opened by Cyril Richardson, Great Barr bellman and Sergeant Cryer to the Lord of the Manor (Cannock). Town cryers were once a traditional feature of towns touring the town with the latest news and attracting attention with a bell. Their cry was often Oh Yay, Oh Yay, it is one o’clock and all is well.


Here is Cyril, with Vicki, ringing the bell and declaring the good news. Inside the shop Cyril asked me if I recognised  people in the photographs (designed to stimulate memory) and I had no trouble recognising Sophia Loren and Elvis Presley. I do have problems with my memory though. My doctor was going to test it; but I think he forgot…


Darlaston is a town with a lot of old buildings and decay, it does have a lot of potential though. Cyril did a good job of cutting the ribbon and doing the official opening of the shop. He is available for events by emailing Cyrilrichardson @


There were other photographers there so I didn’t always get the shot I wanted, but I tried to get the shop into the frame with this picture.


Cyril made a little speech and cut the ribbon with a flourish and proceeded to walk around as town criers do, ringing his bell and spreading the good news.


I haven’t found out why the paving has paint sprayed marks all over it. The town needed improving not making worse. There might be a £1 parking charge soon, which won’t help very much.


I popped in the Tuck Shop while I was there and bought some sherbet lemons. Yes, I can still remember what a tuck shop is! That brought back a few memories of things we ate as kids, like gob stoppers and aniseed balls.

Incidentally, Darlaston, otherwise known as Darlo, is a small town in the Black Country; now part of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and memories in the comments box. If you live in Darlo, please keep them clean. I remember a journalist during the cold war making a comment about Darlo, if it was hit by a nuclear bomb would we notice any difference? I did notice the peeling paint and the graffiti, but it was once a thriving little town. I remember shopping in King Street as a child and it thrived then. I remember the Salvation Army Band one Christmas Eve playing in King Street and it was like stepping into a Dickensian novel. I had my school blazer from Stanbury’s in King Street, that was over 50 years ago!

You can also follow me on Twitter and Mindful gifts is on Twitter too.

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