Villagers in North Marston have two reasons to celebrate their community shop.
Eddie Parsley, shop manager, was voted the UK winner in The People’s Choice Awards, run in conjunction with the Community Ownership Awards, by the Plunkett Foundation. To top that, the North Marston Community Shop Association Ltd was crowned the best community owned co-operative in the South East.
The prestige event was held at the Skyloft, the 28th floor of the Millbank Tower in London.
When his name was announced as winner of this category, Eddie said: “It was worth walking up 648 stairs for this!”
Alison Finnemore, chairman of the shop association, said: “Eddie is caring, kind and efficient. He welcomes customers and makes each one feel special. He supports and trains volunteers. He really deserves this accolade. He is known as ‘The Face of The Shop’.”
The shop association won its award for the contribution to the community.
Villagers in North Marston formed an Industrial and Provident Society, raised over £110,000 to build, equip and stock the Norwegian log building next to the village hall. The money came from local village fund-raising, The Plunkett Foundation, The Leader Fund, the Vital Villages programme, Aylesbury Vale Community Chest, Buckinghamshire Community Foundation and The Parish Council.
‘The Shop’, as it is known, was opened in 2011 by John Bercow, MP, and it has played a vital role in reducing isolation for rural people, acting as social hubs, and particularly, creating support networks for those who for one reason or another are disadvantaged.
The shop is run by a management committee, along with the manager and team of volunteers, and has become well-known for selling local produce, supporting local farmers, growers and makers of food.
Sales of local products now make up almost 49% of food sold. Fresh fish is delivered from Cornwall and fresh fruit and vegetables are delivered daily.
Alison added: “This is a wonderful surprise! It is a great accolade for all who have worked so hard to provide the best of shops and support for our community. This award is for volunteers, customers, suppliers, management committee, manager and shareholders, all of whom support The Shop, and make it a really special social hub as well as a shop.”