Norfolk village's new shop, post office - and cafe

PUBLISHED: 17:29 02 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:03 07 July 2010

Take one serving Lieutenant Colonel, a village due to lose its shop and post office and a band of willing volunteers and what do you get?

The answer is a new post office and shop stocking everything from locally brewed beer to eggs laid by chickens down the road.

Take one serving lieutenant colonel, a village due to lose its shop and post office and a band of willing volunteers and what do you get?

The answer is a new post office and shop stocking everything from locally-brewed beer to eggs laid by chickens down the road. For good measure you also get a café and a revived community spirit.

At least, that is what has happened at Great Ryburgh, where all four were put on show for Monday's opening of the village's new community-owned enterprise: Ryburgh Village Shop.

Volunteers were working until the last minute to get the shop ready for its opening by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

Nigel Howell, a director of the community enterprise company, took two weeks off work from his

day job at Bernard Matthews to

help get the new unit - in a

former granary building - ready.

Lt Col Andrew Purdy, who now works for the army in Whitehall, has been instrumental in getting the new shop opened having moved to the village four years ago. He said: "Then, the village had a school, a pub, a church and a shop. The school closed in 2006, and in three years the pub had eight or nine managers. Each time we said: 'It cannot get any worse,' and it did. The church was a source of division rather than harmony, and then we discovered that the shop was going to close."

With the help of Dereham-based Norfolk Rural Community Council, a community interest company was set up, a new location was gifted by developer Michael McNamara and a second unit was sold to the company to enable the shop to be bigger.

About £130,000 was raised for the project, £25,000 of that from 116 villagers who took out shares in the company. The new staff, a builder and solicitor who did their paperwork and about 40 people who have helped out, are all from the village.

On her first visit to the business, just across the road from the old

shop, villager Marjorie Santer, 84, was impressed. She said: "I was going to go to Tesco this afternoon, but now I'm not, Now I've seen what they have I will come down here."

Tesco has in fact helped the shop by offering shelving and advice for the shop manager, Joyce Cleveland.

She said: "People are really pleased how full it is and how full of stock we are. That is what we wanted. The biggest thing is getting the post office back. We also have local free-range eggs, locally-brewed beer using malt from the maltings next door, news-papers, fresh bread and milk and many other grocery items."

Organic veg will soon be available through Salle Organics, and an inter-net point is being set up at the café.

Mr Lamb said: "I think this is a wonderful beacon of light in quite troubled times. They have demon-strated a whole community coming together and what can be done by that."

Our front-page picture shows Great Ryburgh Memorial Hall cleaner Sarah Quick, clearly del-ighted after the opening of the shop.

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