Thursday, 31 March 2011

Community shop sector celebrates as Yarpole scoops top national win

Yarpole Community Shop – the first ever custom-built shop to open in a church – named Best Village Shop at Countryside Alliance Awards

A community-owned shop in Yarpole, near Leominster, has fought off stiff competition from across the entire country to be named Best Village Shop and Post Office at the prestigious Countryside Alliance Awards national finals, held yesterday (Wednesday 30th March) at the House of Lords.

When Yarpole – a small rural village of only 700 people – lost the last shop in their village in 2005, the community were left stranded with no vital service. Undaunted, they sprang into action and formed a committee, and opened their first shop in a portacabin, both owned and run by the entire community. Then, in 2009, they jumped at the opportunity of being able to use their local church to host their shop, and proved that their uniqueness and strength was enough to make them a real success.

Yarpole is one of 255 community-owned shops across the UK. Community-owned shops open at an average rate of 19 per year – saving 5% of the 400 village shops that close each year. Yarpole has been supported by rural charity Plunkett Foundation, which manages the Community Shops Network and helps communities to set up and run community-owned shops and other services. Community-owned shops were well represented in this year’s Countryside Alliance Awards, with five being named regional winners, all of whom will now go on to compete in the national awards, to be held at the House of Lords on 30 March.

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “The success of Yarpole demonstrates what can be achieved by rural communities given the right support. Communities like Yarpole are David Cameron’s Big Society in action, and their achievement is fantastic, but communities across the country still need more support in order to follow in Yarpole’s footsteps and save these vital services. This award is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the whole community.”

The Plunkett Foundation helps rural communities to take control of the isuses which are important to then through community-owneership.   For more informaiton about Plunkett's Communit Shops Network:

Guidance for churches wanting to set up a community shop is available: 

For further informaiton about the Countryside Alliance Rural Oscars 2010 see:

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