People are being urged to shop to save lives, as Scotland’s biggest Cancer Research UK store re-opens after a devastating closure.

Three months on, staff and volunteers at the store at Retail Park Riverway, Irvine are now getting back to business to tackle a shortfall in funding, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With its shops typically contributing more than £25m every year to vital research, Cancer Research UK has suffered a dramatic loss of income since they were forced to close temporarily at the end of March.

Highlighting the scale of the funding gap, the call to support the Irvine superstore coincides with the launch of an urgent new TV appeal to help get the charity’s life-saving work back on track.

It was an emotional moment for assistant manager Julie Howie as she opened the doors of the Irvine superstore to customers again on Monday, July 6 for the first time since the pandemic began.

Sheknows exactly how vital the power of research is to give families more tomorrows with their loved ones.

Julie, 46, overcame breast cancer after being diagnosed on January 9, 2005 when her daughter Cara was only three.

Julie had surgery to remove the tumour followed by 16 sessions of chemotherapy then five weeks of radiotherapy.

To help cut the risk of cancer in the future, Julie also had surgery at Crosshouse Hospital to remove her ovaries then for five years Julie took a Letrozole tablet every day, a drug which helps to lower the levels of the hormone oestrogen in the body.

Now she has an annual check up and is cancer free.

Julie said: “To save lives tomorrow, we need the public’s support today – so we want people to know we’re making every effort to create a safe shopping experience.

“COVID-19 has hit us hard and after three long months we’re delighted to be able to welcome new and familiar faces back through our doors again, as well as a host of new donations. Our shops are full of new and pre-loved items, fashion one-offs and homeware treasures – particularly after lockdown clear-outs.

“As well as being sold at bargain prices, every sale helps to fund our work. But right now, clinical trials are being postponed and we’re having to delay vital research.

“That’s why we’re asking our customers to do what they can. Whether they shop, donate goods or volunteer their time – all are essential to help us keep making breakthroughs for people with cancer.

“COVID-19 has slowed us down. But we will never stop. With around 32,200 people diagnosed with cancer every year in Scotland*, we are absolutely determined to continue creating better cancer treatments for the future.

“Every step our scientists take towards beating cancer relies on every pound raised. So, with the help of shoppers in Scotland we believe that together we will still beat cancer.”

Strict measures are being followed at all Cancer Research UK shops to ensure people can shop, volunteer and donate goods safely.

These include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, cough guards at till points, face coverings and gloves for shop staff and volunteers, additional cleaning and a 72-hour quarantine period for donated items.

Customers are also asked to wear a face mask inside the shop, in line with Scottish Government regulations.

The shop also has a 72-hour quarantine period for donated items. Staff are recommending that people phone ahead to check capacity on the day before dropping off goods as the new safety measures mean that storage space may be limited.