Grant boosts community shop in Rocklands

From left, Peter Rushton, company secretary; Roger Steel, chairman Rocklands Community Shop; Victori

From left, Peter Rushton, company secretary; Roger Steel, chairman Rocklands Community Shop; Victoria McArthur, vice chairman with 2-year-old Clementine; and Elaine and Alan Johnson, shop owners. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

A south Norfolk community has been given a boost after it was awarded a £47,000 grant to help run the village shop.

People living in Rocklands, near Attleborough, have worked tirelessly for the past seven months to help save their community store.

And now the Prince's Countryside Fund has handed over a cheque for £47,730 in a bid to help boost the funds and battle rural isolation.

The grant will pay for the refurbishment of the shop, so that it can become a café and accommodate more and varied stock with an emphasis on local produce. Funding will also be spent on building work and salaries while the project gets established.

Vice-chairman of the committee, Victoria McArthur, said: 'We are delighted the Rocklands Community Shop has been awarded this grant from the Prince's Countryside Fund. It mirrors the funding we raised from the community. The critical thing that this grant allows us to do is to train and fully fund a paid member of staff for all the hours that the shop is open. Volunteers are still critical and will provide vital support and enable the shop to fully function as well as being key to the success of such a community enterprise.

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'The remainder of the money will be used towards the frontage and fascias of the building, something our present budget had not allowed us to fund. And we will be able to realise the perfect shop front – a welcoming beacon for all the community.'

The former owners of Rocklands Village Shop and Post Office, Alan and Elaine Johnson, sent a letter around the village, near Attleborough, in June notifying people of their wish to retire. They have owned and run the shop for 23 years and have never had a holiday.

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The charity said more than 700 people from the local community will benefit from the grant money.

Mrs McArthur added: 'This is a huge boost for the first year, and enables us to open the new Rocklands Community Shop with a flourish, giving support to vulnerable members of our rural community as well as providing improved and valuable facilities for a sustainable countryside.

'We have a mandate from the village and now a big vote from an external funder, we cannot be more happy for the community.'

The store is set to open in March.

Since 2010, the Prince's Country-side Fund has given grants to support 127 rural communities, 3,006 farm businesses and 792 rural enterprises.

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