When The Shop in North Marston opened in July 2011, it was a result of three years of research and fund-raising by its founding members and the local community. One of the sources of funding was the LEADER Programme, which awarded £38,000 towards the setting up of the business.
The Shop was set up 25 years after the last shop closed in order to provide a service to the village, to provide local food and cut down on food miles and carbon emissions, while at the same time providing a social hub where people of all ages could volunteer to help the community.
Alison Finnemore, Chairman, The North Marston Community Shop Association Ltd, said: “We think a lot of LEADER - they were so special for us, supporting all of our aims and along with other grant givers made a huge difference to our village. We loved working with the team and benefitting, not only from the grants, but from the common sense advice and support we received. We certainly got a great deal of confidence from working with LEADER and the grant was extremely helpful in enabling us to deliver The Shop’s log cabin building and to set up our business.
“We were able to achieve our dream of opening a shop that provides a service to the community, supports local small businesses and sells masses of local food. Approximately 49% of what we sell is produced locally, realising our aims of cutting down on carbon emissions and food miles.”
The Shop victorious at Community Ownership Awards
The Shop has served the local community well, filling the gap and meeting the need that had grown over a quarter of a century. It also delivers surplus profits to community projects in North Marston, meaning the more that villagers use The Shop the more benefits come back to the community. As recognition of this, The Shop recently won the South East Region Rural Community Ownership Award for best community owned cooperative, while Manager Eddie Parsley won the national People’s Choice Award. The Rural Community Ownership Awards are the only national awards programme recognising community co-operation around the UK.
“To win these awards is brilliant news and a well-deserved honour for all involved with running and volunteering at The Shop,” said Alison. “The volunteers are a wonderful team of people who help the Manager, Eddie Parsley, to provide an excellent shopping experience for all customers. Many of the volunteers say that working in The Shop has provided them with many new friends and prevented them from being lonely.”