Plunkett Foundation celebrated twenty years of a dedicated support service to communities looking to save their village shop through community ownership last weekend at a special event which also marked the opening The Burrow in Exbourne.
The event saw current Plunkett Foundation staff joined by special guests who had been involved in the initial support service for community-owned shops twenty years ago, as well as fellow support organisations and the community of Exbourne.
The Burrow in Exbourne is the 281st community-owned shop to open and represents the innovative approach rural communities take to issues like space and available assets by opening the shop underground. Find out more about the story of The Burrow on their excellent new website - http://theundergroundshop.weebly.com/index.html.
The day began with Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, who told the story of how the shop support service was established twenty years ago and has since gone from strength to strength to enjoy the success rate it does today. Peter highlighted this success using statistics from the recently published Better Business report, which provides an overview of the community shop sector from 2011.
Michael Teale, ViRSA trustee, also spoke about the dedicated shop support service that was first established in 1992 to promote and inspire communities to set up their own shop. With only a handful of community shops up and running at the time, this was a huge step forward in the development of an increasingly strengthening sector. Michael acknowledged and reflected upon the hard work and commitment of Derek Smith, the founder of ViRSA (Village Retail Services Association), which later merged with Plunkett Foundation.
We were also delighted to launch the first ever Community Shop Awards, and were joined by Shirley Evans-Jones of Hastoe Housing - the main sponsors of the awards -who announced the categories that will recognise shops for their varying achievements representing different areas of best practice. More information on the awards will follow.