Only shop in the Village re-opens

A loan from us along with the hard work of a Cheshire community has produced over £100,000 to ensure their one precious shop doesn’t close.

The only shop in the village of Gawsworth, Cheshire, will re-opened at 11am on 10 March, placing it happily in community hands. The community bought the property and refurbished the small shop that has been serving the village for over 40 years. Local people decided to take action when the previous owner attempted last year to close the shop and convert it into a residential property.

Following a complete refurbishment, the shop is re-opening with new equipment, a modern look and an air of excitement. Over 30 volunteers have offered to operate the shop and the generous help from local tradesmen has demonstrated the unity of the people of Gawsworth.

The shop is at the heart of the village, and is relied upon by the community. If it were to close it would leave the villagers, many of whom are elderly, without a shop within a two mile radius. Also the lack of timely, convenient public transport only compounded the problem, as the only option is an hourly bus service.

The campaign to save the shop started in mid 2010 with a public consultation and community survey. In a short time the support received was tremendous – the villagers raised over £60,000 from a community share issue, with over 150 people buying shares. Donations from 40 villagers, a loan from Co-operative & Community Finance, grants and advice from the Village CORE Programme*, and grants from local charities resulted in over £100,000 being raised in less than six months toward saving the shop.

“The saving of the Gawsworth shop has really brought the village community together. It has been a great effort, the shop is a focal point for the community. It’s directly opposite the primary school, and close to social housing,”said Stephen Hamer, a pioneer behind the campaign and shareholder. It will be a general convenience store offering household goods, a post-point parcel service, a range of deli products and freshly-made sandwiches, and will try to source local produce. As a community hub and information centre, it will be open every day of the week.

* The Village CORE Programme is a three-year support programme managed by the Plunkett Foundation in partnership with the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Co-operative & Community Finance and supported by the LankellyChase Foundation.It provides financial start-up packages and advisory support to communities looking to set up a community-owned rural shop.