Pioneering Itteringham community shop and post office celebrating 20 years of trading
07:00 06 October 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
A popular community-run village shop, post office and café is celebrating its 20th anniversary today.
Itteringham shop history
There has been a shop at the site of Itteringham’s community store and post office since 1637.
Before the Itteringham Community Association was formed, the shop and post office was run by couple Brian and Dorothy Fairhead who died in 1994 and 1996 respectively.
Mr Fairhead’s father Albert had ran the shop before him, with the family connection beginning in 1908.
After the association was formed, a rota of unpaid volunteers ran the shop keeping it buoyant until the business could hold its own.
The shop was refurbished in 2004 with grant money.
There are about 14 volunteers involved in the venture, which does home deliveries and is open Mondays to Sundays.
Cash comes from shop sales, fund-raisers and grants.
Itteringham Shop and Post Office, between Aylsham and Holt, was under threat of closure in 1994 but became a forerunner of other Norfolk community ventures after being taken over by villagers.
It is described as the heartbeat of the rural idyll and a champion of local food producers.
Shop manager Elliot Savage, known as Widge, said: “There was a massive amount of volunteers to help out in the beginning and the shop has grown from strength to strength. We have still got an army of volunteers in the background doing various jobs. A lot of people put in a heck of a lot of money in the beginning.
“We didn’t think it would still be going 20 years later. At the time it was something we needed to do to keep the shop going.”
The shop was under threat after long-serving shopkeeper Brian Fairhead died in 1994.
It was taken on by Itteringham Community Association on October 3 that year.
Mr Savage, 44, from Hill Street, Norwich, said: “The shop gives the community its heartbeat and is a meeting place for people.
“Lots of shops are closing which is really sad. They are important because they help the local economy and community spirit.”
The Itteringham shop attracts a range of customers, including people who live alone.
It also pulls in holidaymakers and passing cyclists and walkers.
Groceries on offer include deli products, locally-produced artisan bread, cakes, cheese and eggs.
Mr Savage added demand for local organic food has increased.
A wine and food tasting fund-raiser for the shop will happen at Itteringham Village Hall on November 28 at 7pm. Tickets cost £5 and are available on the door.
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