Her smiling face has been known and loved by generations of Helston shoppers but next week the town will say goodbye to "one in a million" Marie Hall.

Having worked in Helston for decades, she had most recently been serving in the Children's Hospice South West Shop despite being well into her eighties.

The shop will be closed next Friday, January 25, as a mark of respect and to allow staff to attend her funeral at Treswithian Downs Crematorium, at 2pm.

Shop manager Susan Smitheram said: "When I started she was doing Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings and then when she got a bit older she did Wednesday and Saturday. She was an amazing, amazing woman; everybody loved her. She is truly missed.

"A lot of people would come in especially on the days she was in, to see her."

Marie, 86, worked for many years with charity fundraiser Margaret Fitter, first in her Macmillan Nurses shop when it opened in Coinagehall Street in 1991 before it became Cancer Funding for Cornwall.

Mrs Fitter said: "I've nothing but the highest regard for Marie. She was one in a million. I considered her a friend as well; she was absolutely lovely.

"She'll be missed in Helston, because everyone knew and liked Marie."

She added that she first got to know Marie in the town's laundrette, and what struck her was how Marie always looked "very smart, with lovely hair and she always had red lipstick on."


Marie Hall on holiday around 20 years ago

When Mrs Fitter decided to take a step back from the charity shop, and it was taken over by Children's Hospice South West, Marie stayed on and continued working there up to around six months ago, when she fell and broke her hip.

This sadly saw a decline in her health and in the run up to her death she had been cared for at Helston Community Hospital.

Her good humour never let up, however, and many visitors commented on knowing her through her work in the charity shops - as did one nurse, who remembered her from when she was a child because Marie saved her a toy until she had collected up enough pocket money to buy it.

It was with the younger visitors to the shops that Marie had a particularly special bond, always ready with a twinkle in her eye, a kind word and the ability to stop any child from crying.

Marie was born in Porthleven before later moving to Helston. One of her great loves was Flora Day and she danced the Morning and Evening Dances for many years in the 1980s and 90s.

She worked for Denzil's, a men's outfitters, before going on to Kneels laundrette in Meneage Street and finally the charity shops. She was also an Avon lady from the 1980s right up to about a year ago.

An avid knitter, who was rarely seen without knitting needles in hand unless eating or drinking, she would make hats for premature babies and blankets for donkeys.

Marie also loved bingo and holidays to the UK's various seaside resorts.

She is survived by her husband Terry, daughter Caroline and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Her niece Julie Simpson said: "Right to the end she was a really strong character. She said it as it was and that's what she was known for.

"I always said 'You're a feisty old bird' and she would say 'Yes I am!'. She will be really missed."

Donations can be made in lieu of flowers to the Little Harbour children's hospice in St Austell, via Pendle Funeral Services.