Big Brother winner Josie Gibson draws in crowds for new charity vintage shop
FANS came from far and wide to see their heroine Josie Gibson when the Big Brother winner opened CLIC Sargent's first dedicated vintage shop in Bishopston.
As well as fellow Bristolians, Josie was given a huge welcome by a 60-strong crowd of mostly women that included some from Spain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and even the USA.
The 25-year-old from Westerleigh, near Yate, was stunned by the distances they had travelled.
She said: "I can't believe you're here. It's like a mothers' meeting."
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Josie is a big supporter of the children's cancer charity, which already has seven shops within the Bristol city boundary and 28 throughout the South West.
When she won Big Brother, she announced she would donate £20,000 of her prize money to CLIC Sargent and has since taken part in an abseil at Bristol Children's Hospital in support of its work.
Josie and her partner, John James Parton, have also visited CLIC House, one of the charity's Homes from Home where families can stay while their children receive treatment.
Arriving in Gloucester Road with her sisters Ria, eight, and six-year-old Ruby, Josie cut a pink ribbon to officially open the shop and welcome its first customers.
She said: "It's just amazing what is done for families at CLIC House. The brother of my old boss, Simon Snook, died of cancer and CLIC Sargent helped his family so I always said that if I won Big Brother, I would make a donation.
"I was really pleased to open the shop. I love shopping and having a good rummage through clothes."
First through the door after the opening was Sheryl Southall, of Watford, a member of the Josie and John James Appreciation Thread that runs on the internet.
She said: "We've been following Josie and John James since Big Brother and we've all come to Bristol in order to have a big party tonight."
Chris Ceballos, 61, of New Jersey, USA, flew into the UK last week to see Josie at the shop, attend the party and do a bit of sightseeing.
She said: "I'd never actually met Josie before but now I have. She's such a lovely, warm person."
Jeremy Lune, head of trading at the charity, said it was keen to have an outlet in Gloucester Road because of its huge range of independent shops.
He said: "It's the perfect location and we thought we would do something in keeping with the area. Because there is a lot of interest in all things retro, we decided to have a vintage shop.
"Usually, one of the hardest things for us is to find enough volunteers to help run our shops but there were a lot who wanted to work here."
The shop, headed by manager Anne Davies and deputy manager, Helen Bowden, sells furniture and clothing ranging from tea dresses to fake fur, as well as a range of hand-made goods from local craft workers.