MP visits award winning village store
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert visited Kirdford Village Stores on Friday (2 March), following their recent success in the Countryside Alliance Awards.
The shop was chosen last month as South East winner for 2011 in the best village shop/post office category.
The Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars', are now in their seventh year of celebrating the characters, skills, traditions and enterprise of the countryside through the people who work so hard to make it tick.
The Awards are led by public nomination, with each business being put forward by supportive customers.
Kirdford Village Stores, which opened in June 2010, is a community owned and managed village store.
Following the closure of the old village shop in 2006, the residents of Kirdford rallied together and raised in excess of £200,000 to open up the stores for local residents.
The store is now run by Store Manager Craig Ramus along with two members of staff and ten regular volunteer workers.
The store sells a wide range of daily essentials and quality local produce, as well as running a small cafe. It won the Daily Telegraph's Best Small Shops in Britain award last year.
Mr Herbert dropped into the store to congratulate staff and Steering Committee Chairman Sue Ransley on their recent award, and to buy some locally produced groceries.
Kirdford followed the successful example of community shops in Amberley, which has been going since 1998, and Graffham.
Slindon, which lost successively its pub, post office and shop, has a plan to create a community shop, cafe and hub at the old forge in the village, hopefully by September. Organisers of this project point out that there are around 250 community shops across the country - with a 97 per cent success rate.
Following the visit, Mr Herbert commented: "Having attended the launch of the shop, I was delighted to see that Kirdford Village Stores have become an integral part of village life, with a fantastic range of local produce. They also serve snacks and I had a delicious sandwich and cup of tea.
"Our Downland community shops are a brilliant example of The Big Society, with people coming together to protect their local services. What's striking is that community shops are often better than the shops which were lost before, and are more supported precisely because local people feel a sense of ownership over them.
"Well done, Kirdford, for winning your 'Rural Oscar' - you richly deserve it."
Notes for Editors
1. For more information about the Countryside Alliance Awards please visit: http://www.countrysideallianceawards.org.uk/article/2011-south-east-champions.
2. For more information on Kirdford Stores please visit: www.kirdfordvillagestores.com