Generous St Albans man opens his second charity shop

PUBLISHED: 13:52 13 May 2011

Mohammed Akhtar opens new furniture charity shop in Hatfield Road, St Albans.

Mohammed Akhtar opens new furniture charity shop in Hatfield Road, St Albans.


A MOVING trip to Africa has prompted a retired St Albans businessman to open his second charity shop to help establish a much-needed school for the deaf in Gambia.

Based on Hatfield Road, the Kadect Charity Shop is the next stage of Mohammed Akhtar’s journey to open Gambia’s second deaf school, after visiting there in February and being deeply moved by the poverty he witnessed.

Mr Akhtar has already established a school in Kashmir with the funds raised from his first charity shop also located on Hatfield Road (101).

The latest store, at number 169, opened on April 26 and has already attracted a steady crowd of customers and the generosity of the donations has overwhelmed the humble Mr Akhtar who previously ran the Madina General Stores for 40 years, 15 of which were spent on Hatfield Road.

He said: “The other charity shop is doing very well and after seeing the friendly people of Gambia, who still live their lives with a smile on their face, I really wanted to open a second shop and help as we have done in Kashmir.

“I should say that I’m very lucky that I am able to do this because I am retired. I didn’t want to just sit at home because that would have been a waste. It’s a great opportunity to be able to help others and not everyone is able to do that. I’m very lucky.”

He closed his food store last year when supermarket giant Tesco showed an interest in moving into his property and the neighbouring book store to open an express store.

The new charity shop takes larger items such as furniture and anybody willing to donate can contact the store and they will collect it. They will also assist with delivery if a large item is purchased by a customer.

Money raised will go towards setting up Gambia’s second deaf school which Mr Akhtar is hoping to do by the end of the year.

Mr Akhtar added: “People are so kind and I cannot thank them enough for all their help in assisting me with the shop. Brilliant people seem to arrive when we need them. Just as we were about to open, Samantha Sawdy – our volunteer – arrived and said she’d help. God provides.”

During his travels, Mr Akhtar said he was particularly moved by a group of school boys that he met outside their school. The building was a simple hut in which all of the boys, more than 60, slept and lived, as well as had their lessons.

Mr Akhtar set up the Kashmir Deaf Children’s Charity, a registered charity, in 2001. It plans to establish an audiology clinic in Kashmir in the near future so that children can be tested and diagnosed at an early age and be fitted with a hearing aid if needed. Mr Akhtar’s daughter is deaf and he wanted to do something that would make a difference to the lives of children, now and in the future.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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