Community shops run as co-operative enterprises are included in the finalists of the 11th annual Countryside Alliance Awards.
Known as ‘the Rural Oscars’, the awards honour rural businesses across four categories and recognise the organisations that add to the countryside community. The businesses celebrated are: local food, village shops, tourism enterprises, and butchers.
Motcombe Community Shop serves the local community in the north Dorset village. There has been a shop in the village since 1830 but in 2010 it was put up for sale and no buyer came forward. Following a residents’ meeting, the community voted to take over the threatened business themselves.
Working with the Plunkett Foundation, they formed a management committee, secured funding from Sowing Seeds, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Lankelly Chase, as well as a loan from Co-operative and Community Finance. £90,000 was also raised from within the village, mostly through selling shares in the business.
The shop sells produce from local suppliers, household essentials, has a café, provides post office services, and also houses a craft corner with work from local artists.
A similar story occurred in St Tudy where, in 2011, the village shop faced closure. Also gaining support from the Plunkett Foundation and funding from the Rural Development Programme for England, the shop and post office recently celebrated its fourth birthday.
Countryside Alliance Awards director Jill Grieve said: “The secret to the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just their produce or services.
“They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don’t seek the spotlight. We are delighted to offer this platform to enable people to say “thank you” to them for all they contribute.”
Along with the other 11 finalists, judges will visit both shops before the winners are announced at a reception at Parliament in Westminster on 27 April.