In 1998 the Rev Bob Evans came to speak at Bethel Penyrheol, Caerphilly. He was a visiting preacher from Cardiff and during his talk he briefly mentioned a bookshop, opening in the University Hospital of Wales. He referred to the shop, once only, but I knew I had to approach him to find out more.
It would be true to say I was indeed stepping out and responding to a Holy Spirit nudge, as I was not an avid book reader, I knew nothing about retail and I didn’t even know where the concourse in the UHW was. However, there was a greater draw at work here, which made all those excuses seem irrelevant.
For accuracy I have returned to my 1998 diary, which records on Friday 13th November “4.30pm Chris Graves, Heath Hospital main entrance, passed Boots”. I had previously telephoned this gentleman, who I had never spoken to or met before. I still remember walking into Unit 6, that afternoon. The shop was unfurnished, no books, no customers, just an empty “shell” waiting to be filled.
On Thursday 15th April 1999 my diary records, “11.00am Thornhill Centre, Sue Bevan (Bookshop)”. This was the meeting that would decide where on earth could I fit into this set up? On Thursday 3rd June I met with Gwenda Roberts and other members of the Books+ team and on Saturday 19th June, I was watching BOOKS Plus Cardiff officially opening.
From June 1999 through to November 2002 I will not bore you with the number of entries there are in my diaries re BOOKS Plus. I took on the role of looking after the volunteer rota & enjoyed closing the shop every Monday from 6.30pm – 8.30pm. (YES!! 6.30pm – 8.30pm!!) It’s been really interesting looking back over those early rotas. We still have volunteers who have been with us from the beginning. I had a break from the shop from 2002 – 2006, but the volunteers kept on showing up and the BOOKS Plus journey has rolled on.
Volunteers, staff, customers have come and gone, but the abiding presence of the very One who set this all up still shines through. We truly are all about His business.