A community-owned village shop offering fresh local produce has opened in High Bickington, Devon, after a two-year campaign.
Entirely led by volunteers, High Bickington Community Shop is the 344th store of its kind to open in the UK, and the 32nd in Devon. Based in the village’s old Meeting Point building, it offers locally produced goods, a range of household items and a seating area for people to socialise.
The community benefit society has been receiving support from the Plunkett Foundation, with grant funding from the Trustees of the Meeting Point, the local parish council and the High Bickington Community Fund.
More than 100 people have paid to become members of the shop in the two years since the plans were made.
“The last village shop in High Bickington closed 12 years ago,” said David Halpin, chair of the management committee.
“As the community has grown, so has the need for a local shop to provide basic essentials for people who may not have regular access to the supermarkets.”
He added: “It will be a meeting place, a communication centre and a linchpin of village life which will help people stay in High Bickington by reducing isolation – as well as making food available locally and more conveniently.
“Much of the appeal of our wonderful village rests on its sense of community and it is the reason that so many people have moved here. The presence of a shop greatly enhances that community spirit.”
James Alcock, head of frontline for Plunkett Foundation, said the co-op was delighted to see the shop open.
He added: “In a climate that sees around 400 commercial village shops close each year, community-owned shops have a positive impact on the local economy and often become the hub of their local area.”
The Plunkett Foundation helps people in rural areas to set up and run community co-operatives.