Melinda Messenger to open Beech Hill Village Shop
The community shop, owned by shareholders from the village and surrounding area, will be housed within the grade II listed building (designed by William Butterfield), still in use as an active church. The project was the brainchild of local Sam Moore, who took her idea to the vicar of St Mary the Virgin Church, Beatrice Pearson. Says Sam: “I came up with the idea on holiday: a community shop that would both serve a community need and help the church to survive. I took the idea to Beatrice and she was on board immediately.” Sam has enlisted the help of friend Melinda Messenger, a local resident, to officially open the shop.
The Village Shop at Beech Hill will become the 304th community-owned shop in the UK, according to the Plunkett Foundation. Community shops are owned and run by the community themselves in a democratic way, with profits being reinvested back into the community. They are viable and sustainable businesses; in the past 25 years only 13 have ever closed, operating in areas where commercial enterprises fail due to their widespread community engagement.
Stuart Barry, chairman of the shop committee, said: “We are indebted to the Plunkett Foundation, the Big Lottery Fund and many others who have given time and money to support this project. We aim to have a shop that not only provides excellent, locally sourced food at competitive prices, but to provide a much-needed focal point for the community.”