RESIDENTS in Chittlehamholt are celebrating the opening of a new community shop, more than four years after the closure of the area’s last remaining store.
More than 50 residents turned out for Monday’s launch event which saw Councillor Richard Edgell declare the shop officially open.
The community project was launched following the closure of Chittlehamholt Post Office in 2009, which left locals having to travel more than five miles to the nearest shop.
The £66,000 project was funded by a number of grants community grants, with more than £25,000 offered by the Big Lottery Fund.
Residents also managed to raise more than £12,000 for the scheme.
Ron Thorne, chairman of the shop’s management committee, said the shop would prove to be a vital lifeline for the villages.
He said: “We have seen all the services disappear from the village over the years.
“The last was of course the shop and post office which really was the life line and acted as the social centre for the village.
“Because we are a village with a lot of outlying houses we needed a centre where people can come into.”
Situated opposite the village hall, Ron said he had high hopes that the shop would become the village’s new social hub.
He said: “We have got a lady across the road who is basically paralysed from the neck down, but she will come across most days and she has a chat and she sees different faces.
“To me it’s worthwhile if we only have a few cases like that.
“It’s as much a social venture as it is a commercial venture.”
The project has been supported by the Plunkett Foundation, which has championed more than 300 community shops across the country, including in West Down and Bishops Nympton.
David Fisher, community retail adviser at the foundation, said the group was excited for the future of the shop.
He said: “The use and social implication is far more invaluable than what they make money wise.
“It’s situated perfectly right opposite the town hall and I have no doubt at all that it will be a tremendous success.
“You need only look at the number of people here today to see what it means to the community.”