Boost for village shop campaign

Bodham parish councillor Callum Ringer, who is hoping to open a community shop run by a mix of paid

Bodham parish councillor Callum Ringer, who is hoping to open a community shop run by a mix of paid staff and volunteers. - Credit: KAREN BETHELL

Residents of three north Norfolk villages are a step closer to realising their dream of reinstating their local shop and post office, after bagging £750 towards start-up costs.

The cash has been awarded to Bodham and Beckham Community Shop Project by the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme, a partnership between house builders Hopkins Homes and national charity the Plunkett Foundation which provides practical advice, support and training to new and established community businesses.

It will go towards a scheme to set up a community-run shop and post office at Bodham, near Holt, where, since the closure of the village stores in 2014, residents have had to trek four miles just to buy the basics.

The project, which is a joint venture between Bodham and the neighbouring villages of East and West Beckham, was the idea of Bodham Parish Council vice chairman Callum Ringer, who has lived at in the village since childhood.

Supported by fellow parish councillors from all three villages and encouraged by the positive feedback from a questionnaire distributed to residents, Mr Ringer formed a steering committee with the aim of setting up a Community Benefit Society.

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The Plunkett Foundation has also provided funding for Andrew Purdy, who is chairman of community-run Ryburgh Village Shop and Post Office, to work with the committee as an advisor.

“The grant has come at a key point for our project,” Mr Ringer said. “The Post Office have recently agreed to a viability assessment to reinstate the permanent post office service we lost in 2014 and the money will allow us to take the project forward.”

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The shop would be a “community hub” combating rural isolation, loneliness and lack of access to transport, Mr Ringer added, while the added benefit of a post office could also potentially be used by people from other nearby villages, including Gresham and Baconsthorpe.

He said: “I think there was always a need for a shop and a post office, but that has really been emphasised since the lockdown in March. I’m sure people have come to realise the value of services on their doorsteps and I think that is borne out by other shops that have reaffirmed their place in the community.”

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