People power re-opens village store

It was all hands on deck in a Norfolk village as locals scrubbed, stacked and sorted from dusk to dawn for the opening its community-led shop.A milestone has been reached for Mileham General Stores and Post Office, near Dereham, as it opened its doors under new ownership - the villagers themselves.

It was all hands on deck in a Norfolk village as locals scrubbed, stacked and sorted from dusk to dawn for the opening of a community-led shop.

A milestone was reached for Mileham General Stores and Post Office, near Dereham, as it opened its doors under new ownership - the villagers themselves.

The shop had been due to close down at Christmas last year.

But faced with losing the last village amenity, more than 80 people turned out for a community project to save it.

Opening the shop is only the beginning for an ambitious community project that hopes to create a hub offering a café and internet services, and sell local craft and produce.

The shop is being set up as a community investment company where all the profits are ploughed back into the community and local people will soon have the chance to buy shares in the company and vote on its future.

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Norfolk Rural Community Council (NRCC) has been advising the village on getting the project off the ground. NRCC community enterprise officer Peter Smith said: "When I walked into the shop I was completely bowled over by how far they come in such a short space of time.

"Normally it takes about six months to get a community shop off the ground and they've done it in about eight weeks.

"They seem to have got off to a cracking start and have ideas like the computer centre and café that would get more local people and passing trade accessing their services.

"The village has done really well in getting behind this and everybody deserves a slap on the back."

The project has been spearheaded by village residents Mike and Sheila Kidd who are running the shop, initially with the help of previous owners, with the hope of training up volunteers and eventually hiring staff.

Mr Kidd said: "It has been a promising start but we know it will be a long slog as we rebuild lost business.

"We have had a great response from people in the village who are concerned about the long-term future of the shop but we are always looking for more people to get involved."

To volunteer, sell local goods at the shop or sponsor the project, contact Mike Kidd on 01328 701268.