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From Riches to Rags, by Geoff Hill Published by Sutton Publishing, at £12.99

This is the autobiography of well-known local business man and fund-raiser par excellence, Geoff Hill, who has bought the first 1,000 copies of his book himself and has set himself the task of raising £10.000 for 6 charities from the proceeds of his fascinating life story. The charities are Mary Stevens Hospice, Age Concern Stourbridge, Dudley Hope (working for underprivileged youngsters in Dudley), Sunfield Children's' Home in Clent and Action Heart and the Leukaemia Unit at Russells Hall Hospital.

When his commitment to those charities has been fulfilled, profits of all future sales will go into the 'Geoff Hill Charitable Trust', to be dispersed to other local charities and needy causes. We are fortunate to have Geoff Hill as a Corporate Patron, and it is particularly pleasing for us as his connection goes right back to his days as an actor with DLT.

Geoff's book, entitled aptly From Riches to Rags, charts his rise from humble beginnings in the late 1920's in a typical back street Black Country terraced house in Brierley Hill, to running a highly successful retail electrical store. In retirement he returned to rags, in this case the rag trade, utilising his business experience to open a chain of charity shops for a local hospice. Despite early academic promise and winning a scholarship to King Edward Grammar School in Stourbridge, Geoff left school at fifteen to help augment the family income and to follow his passion for cycle racing.

Following work in the stores of a sanatorium and then as an audit accountant, Geoff secured work in a Wolverhampton racing cycle shop. It was at this time that he became British under 18 Cycling Champion and went on to become the first semi-professional road racing cyclist to compete in the first 'Tour of Britain' from Brighton to Glasgow. Unfortunately permanent damage to his back sustained during his stint down the pit as a Bevin Boy, put a premature end to his cycling career.He bounced back, however, undertaking a variety of jobs including office work, supervising industrial canteens, selling Bettaware then Encyclopaedia Britannica door to door. He sold typewriters and office equipment and also worked at both selling and servicing for Hoover.

The first of his own business ventures was a riverside grocery shop in Bewdley, and was followed by the tenancy of a large country pub. He sold miniature gnomes and brassware around Devon's resorts, and after opening and running shops for a Kidderminster electrical retailer, finally, in 1960, started up his own electrical shop. From humble premises costing £3 weekly, located in a nondescript shopping area close to Stourbridge, he built up the highest turnover of all the 60 stores within the Birmingham and West Midlands buying group he had joined.

Geoff's desire to put back something into the local community in his retirement has brought about the evolution of an endless medley of fundraising events. The Hospice Lottery, which has raised a million pounds in just six year's must qualify as one of the most notable but also high on the list is the £100,000 raised in 10 days in the heartrending 'Robert Parson Story', for which Geoff was voted West Midlander of the Year.

Ten years ago he set up the 'Geoff Hill Charitable Trust' with 10% of the company's profit. Over 600 local needy causes and charities have received financial assistance. Geoff and wife Sue's four visits to Buckingham Palace are recounted in the book.

This year Geoff will be 80, but he is as busy as ever and is even a director of several other charities. He must be the perfect example to counteract ageism and is an inspiration to all.

The editor at Sutton Publishing described Geoff's book as the most enjoyable and the most inspiring she had read in the last 12 months.

You can buy your copy from the Geoff Hill Electrical Store in Amblecote and from other local shops, price £12.99. Have an enjoyable read and help local charities.