Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

NEWS > Alumnae Profiles > Champion Fundraiser Sheila Hallas

Champion Fundraiser Sheila Hallas

Sheila Hallas left LEH in 1950 and worked as a Welfare Officer for London Transport, before becoming the Honorary Organiser of the Combined Charities Christmas Shop in 1971.

“Any outsider looking at the start-up of the Christmas Shops in 1971 would have dismissed it as ridiculous. Business plan? None! Finance? None! Equipment? None!

So, 49 years later, how come has it morphed from a small side street shop with 10 charities, to six pop up shops in five libraries (Wilmslow, Macclesfield, Altrincham, Hale, Sale, and the Curzon Cinema in Knutsford)? We now sell cards for 50 odd charities in our shops and have a website with 30 more.

Well, it was a one-off originally. A chance remark while buying an old rocking chair. I said I couldn’t find a shop selling charity Christmas cards. The reply? “Well you can have this shop if you like, I am moving round the corner…”

Er-r ? Could I do that? I did! Some 10 charities came for 10 days. A pasting table, a Candlewick bedspread , a cash box and a paraffin heater. £700 later I opened an account with Barclays. For the next nine years, I found empty shops, haggling for free use. Still no money.

From the start, I knew that everything would be free for charities; that no one would be paid; that charities would get 100% of their sales back. I think that makes us unique. Other organisations charge for entry, have paid establishments and take a slice of sales.

There are many challenges. Just how to pay for insurance, publicity, equipment and rent? No one gives us any money, we have to be self-sufficient. I had to finance everything from the sale of gifts.

So for years I sourced those from going to the International Spring Fair at the NEC, and the Home and Gift Show in Harrogate on my own. Now I have a great colleague and we do this together.

Our volunteers are now in their hundreds. Often eight volunteers in each pop up shop a day for five to six weeks. Do the maths!

Charities come to us, we don’t choose. Over the years, we have hosted over 120 charities. I launched the website in the early days of 1990. Many charities saw the opportunity of another market place and joined us at

In 1995, I was awarded an MBE. My family were with me as Prince Charles took the Investiture. It really was quite nerve wracking! Particularly as bobbing my curtsey, my shoe nearly came off! I blurted out: “I nearly lost my shoe”! Prince Charles said with a smile: “Yes, it is a nightmare isn’t it?!”

So no, I am not retired. This keeps me out of mischief from July to March. People are lovely, it is rewarding.

One stand out observation: recognise an opportunity when one pops up. It will be a challenge. It may take you on a different course from your intended one. But, be flexible and remember the LEH motto... Hope Favours The Bold!

PS I still have the old rocking chair!

We have made over £5m and counting.”

Similar stories

There's nothing more inspiring than hearing someone speak from first-hand experience, so there was rapt attention for our alumnae who returned to LEH to head up a Careers session y… More...

Literacy consultant Lesley Clarke, Class of 1987, worked as a teacher for 25 years before devising a school phonics prog… More...

Rising star Poppy Gilbert, Class of 2015, has wanted to act since she was 12 and seized every opportunity at LEH. Since … More...

Joy Lisney, Class of 2011, is one of the most exciting young musicians to have emerged in recent years, with a glitterin… More...

Solution Engineer Becca Madden, Class of 2012, loved her job in engineering at Jaguar Land Rover, but she could never qu… More...

Most read

Calling the Class of 1985! Tanith Carey (nee Mukerjee) is offering you a chance to take a trip down memory lane with a treasure trove of Polaroid phot… More...

Claire with her bronze medal at the British Championships 2023

Emergency Medicine Consultant Claire Emerson, Class of 1993, will be competing for Team GB at the International Masters Gymnastics World Cup for athle… More...

Alumnae dates for 2024 confirmed! We’re delighted to announce that we are now taking bookings for the Alumnae Reunion, on Saturday 5th October, and th… More...

Travel Story Award

This website is powered by