In May 1980 Canon John Riches and his wife Nena opened the first fair trade shop in the UK, the Balmore Coach House. Their interest in addressing global inequalities was fired by a spell in Transkei in 1975, where Nena worked as a doctor for 5 months. Whilst there, during a period of great unrest, John was asked to help out by teaching at the Anglican College and met Steve Biko.
They returned to Glasgow determined to do something to tackle inequality. After discussions with their local community in Baldernock, they decided to open a craft & coffee shop, with all the profits going to charities at home and abroad.
The shop expanded over the years to meet demand and by 2010 had raised more than £850,000 for good causes and now is well over £1 million, with 2/3rds going to charities overseas and the remainder to UK charities.
John and Nena have decided that the time is right to step down from running the shop but are delighted that their work will be continued by a local fair trade group who are opening at Gavin’s Mill (just a few minutes from Milngavie Station) and plan to open on 1st March during Fair Trade Fortnight. Volunteers to help with the shop would be most welcome.