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Publicans who battled for years to open village shop have made it ‘hub of community’

PUBLISHED: 14:47 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:18 06 April 2020

Vikki Hunt at the Lodge village shop when it opened last year. Pic: Archant

Vikki Hunt at the Lodge village shop when it opened last year. Pic: Archant

A Norfolk village shop which opened after a £3,000 council grant is offering “true community spirit” as coronavirus worsens.

Vikki Hunt with Terry Stork and councillor Bill Borrett at the shop when it opened last year. Pic: ArchantVikki Hunt with Terry Stork and councillor Bill Borrett at the shop when it opened last year. Pic: Archant

Vikki and Gavin Hunt, who run The Lodge pub, in North Tuddenham, near Dereham, battled to open the shop last year and eventually succeeded with a grant from Norfolk County Council.

The pub is closed under coronavirus guidelines and so the shop is proving a vital service for local people, selling fresh produce and running a ‘pick and pack’ service. People ring through their entire shopping list and pay for it. The Hunts then collect and pack it, delivering it into your car boot in a completely contactless process.

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As well as selling convenience foods, the couple also bake bread, make burgers as well as their own ready prepared meals and sell fruit and vegatables, cheese and other produce from local farms and butchers.

A freshly made lasagne at the Lodge Shop, North Tuddenham. Pic: the Lodge ShopA freshly made lasagne at the Lodge Shop, North Tuddenham. Pic: the Lodge Shop

Each day they post photographs of what is for sale in readiness for the orders. They will also delivery to elderly people in the village as well as open up – even in their pyjamas – out of hours for NHS workers struggling to find time to get there.

Mrs Hunt said: “Although our official times are 10am-6pm Tuesday to Saturday, outside of those hours are not an issue for NHS workers ... they can just speak when the answer phone cuts in saying NHS and I will happily open up.

“We will be here batch cooking for some delicious ‘Gav’s easy teas’ to see you through another week. Lodge quality food, all the hard work done so you just have to heat at home.”

The shop finally opened a year ago after a two year planning battle. Before, locals had an eight mile round trip to the nearest shop. One supporter, Rober Walton, said: “It’s true community spirit. It’s the future for village shops; it helped the financial viability and sustainability of the pub and has become a village hub.

Some of the produce on sale at the Lodge Shop, North Tuddenham. Pic: Lodge ShopSome of the produce on sale at the Lodge Shop, North Tuddenham. Pic: Lodge Shop

“Hopefully people will remember and use the shop and pub after these challenging times. Local businesses need all the support they can get now and in the future.”

When it opened last March, county councillor for North Tuddenham Bill Borrett said: “The community shop is much needed in North Tuddenham and it will also contribute to our aims of helping to reduce isolation in communities and enabling people to remain independent for as long as possible.”

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Freshly baked bread at the Lodge Shop, North Tuddenham. Pic; Lodge ShopFreshly baked bread at the Lodge Shop, North Tuddenham. Pic; Lodge Shop


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