LOYAL customers flocked to the grand reopening of a Gosport newsagent which downsized following multiple break-ins.
Queen’s Parade News has become a real community hub, helped no end by owner Jo Durham’s friendly manner with each person who enters the shop.
In June and October last year, thieves broke in and left Jo wanting to secure the shop, so she has downsized and Gosport Home Improvements reinforced the windows.
Jo, who has worked at the shop for 22 years and bought it in 2004, said: ‘In October they took the charity pot and it broke me, but I will not be beaten.
‘I love my shop, I love my customers and I’m not going to let anybody like that ruin something I enjoy.
‘If someone kicks the door in now they’re going to hurt themselves.’
More than 50 wellwishers turned up to celebrate the shop’s new look, some bringing presents for their favourite shopkeeper.
Regular customer Evelyn Bell has been visiting the shop since it opened. She said: ‘If you want something, Jo will get it or she will have it. Her imagination is unfathomable.
‘She will always go the extra mile, I have never known any body like her.’
Josephine, Jo’s daughter, said: ‘She is the heart of the community, there’s nothing too big for her to do.
‘I am so proud of what she has done, everyone loves her, everyone loves the shop and everyone loves the staff.’
Special guests included Gosport’s deputy mayor Zoe Huggins, who helped with security options for the shop.
Also attending were Samantha Tanner and Gary Parker from Wave 105 Cash 4 Kids, who Jo has raised thousands of pounds for over the years.
Charity manager Samantha said: ‘When she does something, she throws herself into it completely. She’s an amazing person and she’s got a real heart for people.’
Radio presenter Gary said: ‘Through rough and smooth she still fights on through. It’s a proper local newsagent, she deserves to do really well here.’
Jo has no plans of selling up and moving on, she said: ‘I genuinely love what I do. I want to be here until I retire whenever that may be.’