Congratulations to the fantastic teams at Feckenham Community Shop in Worcestershire and Hambledon Community Shop in Surrey, both of whom have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Feckenham Community Shop is kept open for 60 hours a week by a team of over 80 volunteers from the village and surrounding area. In In 2009, after 20 years without a shop, a group of villagers with no previous retail experience upgraded and opened a new one. They raised £40,000 in just 7 months and 300 villagers signed up as shareholders. The result has been a resounding success, not just because a shop has returned to the village after so long, but also because the project has brought the wider community together, from teenagers to pensioners, enabling friendship, co-operation and a sense of pride. This has rippled outwards and local schools and businesses are also benefiting from this shop’s support. Inspired by their achievement, the community planned and built a café with free WIFI. It has proved very successful and is popular with cyclists, walkers and villagers alike.

Hambledon Community Shop opened in 1992, two years after the previous shop ceased trading. Recognizing the vital service the shop brought to the community, villagers rallied and re-opened it as a community-owned venture. It now flourishes, offering the village much more than a place to buy bread and milk.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year range from Ablaze, a charity helping to raise academic achievement amongst disadvantaged young people in Bristol to a volunteer rescue boat service on Loch Lomond.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE said:
“I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups. The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the best of democracy in action.”

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said:
“I would like to congratulate all groups who received this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of their fantastic achievements. The hard work and commitment that goes into the work of these organisations is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer. I hope these groups continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact so that we can continue to build a bigger, stronger society.”

Both community shops are member of the Plunkett Foundation’s Community Enterprise Network, a benefits package exclusively for community co-operatives. If you’d like to find out more about the scheme please contact Harriet English on harriet.english@plunkett.co.uk or give us a call on 01993 810730.