Blunsdon Market manager Maurice Mapson, 68, recently handed Prospect Hospice the latest £10,000 of the almost £60,000 he has raised for the organisation at a stall selling car boot sale left-overs. He is married to Margaret and the couple have two children and five grandchildren.

“IT’S just my motto,” said Maurice Mapson, “to help other people. There are people suffering in the world who need help.

“Prospect provides one of the best services in the world, I think. There are units there where families can stay when a person is in their last stages.

“I’ve had a few friends and a few market traders who’ve gone into the Prospect and I think to myself, ‘We supported Prospect and they supported us’.

“It’s peaceful. You feel that peace as soon as you walk through the door.

“The warmth is there, and the people who run it are very, very nice. They invite you in, offer you a cup of tea, have a chat.” Maurice, who is originally from Stratton, first began raising money for what was then simply the Prospect Foundation – the hospice in Wroughton had yet to open – for a very personal reason.

More than 40 years ago his mother, Rita, died at the old Victoria Hospital and he never forgot the compassion of those who looked after her. “I started with a cardboard box. I just started putting all my loose change in it. I used to take it up to the Victoria Hospital, to the shop up there, where they were doing voluntary work.”

By that time Maurice, whose father was a railway worker, was established in the market business.

Early in his working life, he was made redundant by hi-fi firm Garrard. Maurice joined logistics firm Howard Tenens, only for the redundancy axe to fall again.

At 21 he decided to work for himself in the market trade, starting at the old Sunday market club at Blunsdon.

“It was a hard start but I never looked back afterwards.”

Maurice had a stall selling an ever-changing array of household items, made a success of it and eventually became market manager.

He then ran a series of his own markets at locations including Amesbury, Cavendish Square and the Link Centre.

He returned to Blunsdon as manager in 2004 and has been in charge ever since.

He had always encouraged charity stalls on markets, and not long after coming back to Blunsdon he noticed that a lot of good but unsold car boot sale stock was being thrown away.

Some sellers couldn’t face the drudgery of packing it all up and taking it home again.

“I looked at it and I thought: ‘I could re-salvage that.’ So we started saving the bits and pieces until we had a lot of stuff. The management gave me a stall free of charge. We had a 50 pence honesty box. We don’t get time to work there ourselves because we have our jobs to do.”

Items are carefully sorted by Maurice and his fellow volunteers before going on the stall, and barring the odd foreign coin finding its way into the honesty box, the system works well.

“There are a lot of main dealers coming along to that stall. Some put extra money in because they know it’s a good value thing.”

Maurice strongly believes that businesses should support good causes whenever they can, and that the world would be a better place if more did.

“All the charities work hard. A lot of businesses could do more for them.

“When I see the people at the hospice, I’ve helped that person and I’ve helped their family – that’s the way I look at it.”

He is also a strong believer in the value of markets to communities.

The 26 traders at Blunsdson sell everything from food to beds and from washing machines to hardware.

There is a chemist, three tea bars and two butchers. The butchers, like many market traders according to Maurice, are ahead of the current environmentalist curve when it comes to eliminating wasteful packaging.

“Most of the meat goes in bags,” he said. “It’s all fresh – they just cut it and bag it.”

There are a number of challenges to the trade in 2018, such as wholesalers being overwhelmed by the demands of high street discount chains, and the growing public fondness for paying by card rather than cash. Some traders are reluctant to make the necessary technological leap.

Another challenge, for Blunsdon at least, are occasional unfounded rumours that the market is to close.

On a positive note, many customers are loyal, drawn by old fashioned, unhurried customer service and a fondness for bargains.

Maurice gives an example: “The quality of the bread is better than in the supermarkets.

“Years ago, the bargains were at the market, but these days people think the bargains are at the shops.

“They think they’re getting a bargain but they buy two for the price of one and then chuck one away because it’s too much for them.

“There’s plenty of future here as long as we keep the traders here, and to keep the traders here we need the support of the public.”