Celebrations as new community store opens
10:02 11 March 2013
A trio of villages has a community hub after Norfolk’s fourth community shop opened for business at the weekend.
White House Stores, on Irstead Road, Neatishead, reopened on Saturday, to the benefit of villagers in the village as well as Barton Turf and Irstead.
The store had been open for 60 years but closed in December 2011 after the business went into administration.
But villagers refused to lose their local amenity and the Three Villages Community Association was formed in July to revive the business by raising money through a share scheme.
Other villages in Norfolk with community-run shops are Great Ryburgh, Mileham and Itteringham.
Brian Wigglesworth, chairman of the Three Villages Community Association, said: “It is a little community hub. It will be the centre of the village and a place where people can go if they need help. People won’t have to travel miles and we will stock what customers want.”
Before the shop opened the 1,200 residents from the three villages had to travel to Wroxham, Stalham and North Walsham to buy groceries and other items.
White House Stores will sell everything from locally produced food, including bread, fudge and cheese, to frozen goods and newspapers.
Villagers put money into the association’s share scheme, which raised £50,000 in four weeks, and 20pc of the residents are now shareholders.
That money was boosted by £42,000 from the National Lottery; £10,000 from the national Esmée Fairbairn Foundation; and £56,800 from North-Walsham-based Victory Housing Trust.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was at the opening and said: “This is a real community effort and the people who have led the project have been really inspiring in making it happen. It is a beautiful shop and is a great resource for the village.”
More than 30 volunteers will run the shop and as well as selling groceries it is hoped they can support elderly people by picking up post or dry cleaning.
Mr Wigglesworth said the community association hopes to convert the currently empty first floor into a two-bedroom affordable flat for a young couple from the area.
Gareth Pritchard, 64, from Neatishead, said: “The shop is absolutely brilliant. It was sorely missed when it was shut.
“It is a wonderful example of what a community can do. It is a place for people to meet and catch up with people.
“It is good for tourism because people on the boats have missed it.”
Karen Smithson, who lives outside of Smallburgh, said the shop would make a big difference.