Nick Herbert attends opening of Kirdford Community Shop
Local residents and school children turned out in force on Saturday (5 June) to attend the launch of Kirdford Village Shop, the new community owned and managed village stores.
They were joined by Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert, and actress and novelist Julie Walters who cut the ribbon to officially declare the shop open.
Following the closure of their village shop in 2006, the residents of Kirdford rallied together to ensure that this valuable local service was not lost.
Over the last three years Sue Ransley and the Kirdford Community Shop Steering Committee have raised in excess of £200,000 in the form of grants and loans, through selling shares and various village fund-raising events.
This included a £20,000 grant from the Plunkett Foundation - a grant giving body that supports local communities, social enterprises and co-operatives - which was represented by James Alcock on the day.
The money has been used to purchase and renovate a building on the Bourn Meadows development in the heart of the village, once used by the Kirdford Growers as an office.
Some of the renovation work such as painting and decorating was undertaken by Villagers and local businesses that were willing to donate their free time.
Kirdford Village Stores will provide a full range of goods and services for local people. Fresh local produce including bread, meat, fruit and vegetables will be amongst the shop's staples as will dairy products, groceries, newspapers, wines and spirits that can be enjoyed in the café area.
Sue Ransley commented that it was "fantastic to have Nick's support, everyone was thrilled to see him there."
Mrs Ransley further said: "We firmly believe that this shop will swiftly become the hub of village activity; somewhere people can meet for a coffee, use the internet and, of course, shop for their daily needs in a pleasant environment; it is a treat to see the social side of the village lifting again."
Mr Herbert spoke to the hundreds of people gathered and praised the community for working so hard to complete the project: "Village shops are central to the life of rural communities. When they closed, or are missing, villagers lose out. So it's marvellous to see this example of community action, with local people coming together to provide this new facility for everyone.
"The Arundel & South Downs constituency already has a successful community shop in Amberley, and one is planned in Slindon. People support and value community shops because they feel a sense of ownership, involvement and pride in them. Now thanks to the hard work of local people we have this fantastic new store in Kirdford, selling local produce and more.
People who listen to The Archers on Radio 4 will have heard a lot about community shops recently, but Kirdford has beaten Ambridge to it! Now local people must ensure that they follow this great day up by using the shop regularly, so that it's an enduring success."
Also present at the event was County Councillor Chris Duncton (Petworth Division) and Alan Wyle, who was there to represent the National Association of Community Run Shops (NACRS), who has been an invaluable mentor and support for the community of Kirdford in setting up the shop.
Notes for Editors
1. Kirdford Village Shop's website can be viewed at http://www.kirdfordvillagestores.com/
2. Further information on the Plunkett Foundation can be found at http://www.plunkett.co.uk/
3. Further information on the National Association of Community Run Shops can be found at http://www.communityshops.co.uk/