Community shops prove mighty in ‘Rural Oscars’ as Countryside Alliance Awards finalists announced Community shops have again dominated the list of finalists in the 11th annual Countryside Alliance Awards, representing almost half of those listed in the village shop category. The Awards – dubbed the ‘Rural Oscars’ – are an annual celebration of the many different kinds of rural businesses: local food, village shops, tourism enterprises and butchers are all celebrated in distinct categories. The village shop category often features community-owned shops, and this year is no exception, with 6 of the 13 finalists being community-owned: • Motcombe Community Shop in Dorset• Barkers of Huby in North Yorkshire• St Tudy Community Shop and Post Office in Cornwall• Churchinford and District Community Shop in Somerset• Beech Hill Village Shop in Berkshire• Barford Village Community Shop in Warwickshire Finalists will now receive a visit from judges before the winners are revealed at a Parliamentary reception on Wednesday 27 April. Welsh finalists are announced separately. For more information about the Awards visit: http://www.countrysideallianceawards.org.uk/caa/?p=3 At Plunkett we know how much difference having a community shop can make to rural areas, and we wish all the finalists the very best of luck! Be inspired by some of the finalists Motcombe Community Shop, Dorset The village of Motcombe in Dorset has been fortunate enough to have a shop serving its community since 1830. But in 2010 this was threatened when nobody came forward to purchase the business when it was put up for sale by its current owners. Not willing to lose an important part of their village’s history, over 200 members of the community attended a public meeting to discuss their options, and from this meeting the community shop project was born. With our help, the community began the process of forming a management committee and raising finance to help bring the project to life. The tireless efforts of the committee secured £29,556 funding from Sowing Seeds, £20,000 from Plunkett Foundation through Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Lankelly Chase, and a £20,000 loan from Co-operative and Community Finance, as part of Plunkett’s Village CORE programme. An impressive tally of £90,000 was also raised from within the village, mostly through the sale of shares in the shop, with 167 villagers purchasing £72,000 worth of shares and others giving donations. Motcombe Community Shop opened for trading on the 17th July 2010.Hundreds of customers support the shop every week, and it prides itself on stocking produce from many local suppliers alongside other competitively priced household essentials. The spacious shop includes both an indoor and outdoor cafe and is host to a craft corner displaying works of local artists and crafts persons. They also offer a range of Post Office services, a twice weekly dry cleaning service, and freshly baked croissants and baguettes seven days a week. Barkers of Huby, North Yorkshire The village store and post office in Huby had provided a vital service to residents for more than 26 years, run by husband and wife team David and Lesley Barker. However, when Mrs Barker sadly died in September 2014, Mr Barker made the decision to retire. A surge of support for the shop came forward, with residents from Huby and nearby Sutton-on-the-Forest joining forces to set up a Community Benefit Society and raising £52,000 through community shares in a matter of weeks. You can read the full story here in the Yorkshire Post. Barkers of Huby has recently received support from the Post Office Community Fund, and they’ve produced this short video. If you’re a community shop interested in finding out more about the Post Office Community Fund you can get in touch with us and we’ll help you find out whether you’re eligible. Beech Hill Village Shop in Berkshire In 2013 St Mary the Virgin Church in Beech Hill became home to a new community-owned shop, with residents running the enterprises from the aisles of this working church. Watch this fantastic coverage of the opening on BBC News here.