Findon Village Store, the community shop run by the community, has celebrated its first anniversary in style.
One year on from the official opening in Findon, the store continues to work for the community with the help of volunteers.
Free cakes for all were baked by volunteer Maggie Martin and the store was bedecked with balloons for the occasion.
Everyone said, looking back, they would not have believed this possible a year ago but the business, now officially classed as a community benefit society, is thriving.
Peter Goldsworthy, chairman of the management committee, said: “It was remarkable the way the village came together to make this happen.
“At very short notice, we were able to get together a small group of highly-qualified and willing people to form a management committee. It was incredible.
“In Findon, we have a high proportion of elderly people, some of whom are quite disabled. They relied on the Post Office for their pensions and banking facilities, and these have now been restored.
“The young families in the village are delighted with the ready availability of milk and bread and delicious cakes and pastries, while the children love the range of sweets and magazines. And everyone has welcomed the reintroduction of the newspapers.”
Last June, the community was shocked and really distressed by the sudden overnight closure of the much-valued and much-needed post office in Horsham Road.
The parish council acted quickly, initiating an emergency meeting, where, with advice from the Plunkett Foundation, a village co-operative was formed.
Astonishingly, by issuing shares of £1,000 each, within nine days more than £400,000 was raised – enough to purchase the business, undertake a radical refurbishment of the property and stock it fully in time for the October 27 opening.
Mr Goldsworthy, former chairman of Findon Parish Council, said the shop now offered a much wider range of merchandise and the committee always welcomed suggestions for how the purchasing could be improved.
The success of the business depends on a large and willing body of almost 50 volunteers. They are totally responsible for everything, while qualified staff operate the post office.
There is an overall manager in charge but maintaining the finances in good order, all the legal matters, building maintenance, training, shop rotas, health and safety and compliance issues are carried out by the volunteer management committees.
In addition, serving behind the till, maintaining the website, cleaning, ordering and managing the rota to ensure cover from early morning until late afternoon to early evening are all achieved by volunteers.