VILLAGERS in Berrynarbor were determined not to lose their only local shop so they formed a co-operative to run it themselves. Such was its success it's about to move into brand new premises. A new Berrynarbor Community Shop and Post Office has been built
VILLAGERS in Berrynarbor were determined not to lose their only local shop so they formed a co-operative to run it themselves. Such was its success it's about to move into brand new premises.A new Berrynarbor Community Shop and Post Office has been built in the main village car park, just around the corner from the old and should open in April.When the original shop was to close in autumn 2004, concerned villagers raised £10,000 and, with grant funding, formed Berrynarbor Community Enterprises Limited, while volunteers moved in to run the shop.They did a good job, despite two new supermarkets in Ilfracombe to compete against.Then the clock was ticking: they had four years to raise £140,000 and commence construction of new premises, under the licence terms agreed with the shop and Post Office owner, who did not want to see the village lose the facility.Some 40 villagers volunteered to give up their time and work unpaid in the shop, while manageress Jackie Borley was appointed and then received training in order to become sub-post mistress. The new shop will be the only Post Office in North Devon - as far as staff are aware - with a free car park right outside.It will be more than a third larger than the existing one and along with the current services it is also planned to offer Internet access and light refreshments such as tea or coffee, with a small seating area. A financial package of proceeds from the shop, grants from Devon Renaissance, the Plunkett Foundation, North Devon District Council and a mortgage enabled organisers to give a new build the green light.The district council also provided the building land at a peppercorn rent and the Berrynarbor Broadcasting Corporation charitable group made a donation of £1,000 before it ceased.It wouldn't have been possible without the support of people in the village, who responded in their droves to an appeal to buy shares in the new Co-operative and over two share issues raised £14,500."Our success has depended on volunteers in the village who have worked so well during the past three-and-half years," said committee secretary Alex Parke."There's about 30 people who come in for a few hours each week - but we are always keen to welcome more, especially to help cover holidays or emergencies."Manageress Jackie Borley will be joined in a job share by new manageress Anita Abbott, herself a former volunteer."I think it's brilliant, what we have achieved in a short amount of time," said Anita."I just hope those who have supported us will continue to do so at the new premises and many more in the village will come along and see us too."In the current climate the future of the Post Office is not necessarily guaranteed so it's important for as many people as possible to use it."Anyone who can spare even an hour or two is asked to call (01271) 883215 for more information.