Countess Bathurst untied a yellow ribbon to mark the opening of The Big Yellow Bus Project fundraising shop in Cirencester on Saturday.

Speaking at the official launch of the new shop in The Woolmarket, Countess Bathurst said she was delighted to support such a worthwhile project which aims to provide shelter and support for those sleeping rough on the streets of Cirencester.

She praised the project’s founder and principal organiser Gerry Watkins for his vision and energy in bringing about the opening of the shop which will enable the Big Yellow Bus Project to continue its valuable work for the town’s homeless.

Countess Bathurst said: “This initiative is so important. It provides a practical solution for those so less fortunate without a place to call home and I’d like to pay tribute to Gerry for his tireless hard work and fundraising and all the volunteers who play such an important part in this project.

“I believe that with Gerry’s passion, energy and enthusiasm as well as the support from so many of the kind people who live here in Cirencester, it will be a huge success.

Commenting on the opening, project founder Gerry Watkins said he could not believe the generosity of certain individuals to make his dream of a fundraising shop a reality.

“It’s difficult to put into words what this means for the future of The Big Yellow Bus Project," Gerry said. Without this shop, we really couldn’t have kept the project going long-term.

“It’s a lifeline and will mean the vital work we’re doing can continue. I can’t tell you how important that is to me and the project.”

The new shop will offer affordable clothing, household items, giftware and many other items.

Homeless individuals signed up to the project will also be given vouchers to obtain free clothing from the shop.

The bus, which opened its doors to the homeless in the town less than a year ago, can accommodate up to seven people a night.

It works with other local agencies and organisations to alleviate the growing problem of rough sleeping locally and provide ongoing support.

The project relies entirely on the generosity of donations and the proceeds of fundraising events.

Any unwanted, good quality and saleable items are always welcome at the shop.