‘Transformative’ Fittleworth community shop put up for a ‘rural Oscar’

(L-R) Fittleworth stores assistant managerToni Humphrey and shop manager Sarah Hawkins SUS-180926-131139001
(L-R) Fittleworth stores assistant managerToni Humphrey and shop manager Sarah Hawkins SUS-180926-131139001

Fittleworth’s community shop has been put forward for an award for how it has improved the lives of residents since it opened in October.

The shop, which is up for a Countryside Alliance Award, has also had confirmation that it will gain a full-time Post Office facility from January 9.

Shop manager Sarah Hawkins said the store had had plenty of customers and positive feedback and deserved the nomination in the village shop category.

She said: “I think we’re a worthy candidate because when you speak to the locals in the community, everyone feels that it’s added so much value to the community and brought a hub that wasn’t there before.”

She added that the Fittleworth-produced Honey Bee coffee served in the café was particularly popular.

Parish council chairman Chris Welfare said the shop, café and playground project had been ‘transformative’ and praised the work of the Fittleworth Stores team for its hard work.

He said: “I feel it’s had a really positive effect on the village, that area has become the hub of the village.

“I was there late afternoon on Friday just looking around and the playground was full of children and there were plenty of customers in the shop and lots of people talking.”

He said that he was pleased the Post Office facility was being started as it was what a lot of people in the village had asked for as one of the services lost when the old village shop closed in 2011.

It will replace the mobile post office service with a full-time facility with opening hours from 8.30am to 5.30pm on weekdays and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm, an extra 44 hours a week.

The Countryside Alliance Awards, known as the ‘Rural Oscars’, are judged on the merits and quality of nominations rather than a number of votes but more nominations are welcome.

See www.countryside-alliance.org