Villagers move a step closer to opening new community shop

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The community shop group outside the The Trusty Servant
The community shop group outside the Trusty Servant Inn

RESIDENTS of a New Forest village are moving ahead with plans to create a community shop after the closure of the existing village store.

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A recent survey carried out in Minstead revealed that many people wanted to see a store in the village after its shop and tea rooms was forced to close in July last year.

Since then a small army of locals have formed a working group and have regular meetings to discuss opening a community shop.

Following a presentation on the group’s plan of action at the annual parish council meeting, residents received encouraging feedback on their ideas.

As a result, the group will be advancing plans to open the shop in a disused store room at the Trusty Servant Inn.

It has received a grant of £550 from Hampshire County Council and NFDC, which will be used to register the business.

Chairman of the working group, Tim Nicholson said: “There has been a shop in the village for over 250 years, and the closure has had a dramatic effect on both the locals and visitors in Minstead.

“Though we are in the early stages of this venture, it is gaining huge momentum and there are a number of avenues we are pursuing to raise funds to open the shop, hopefully this summer.

“Location was a priority and the community was extremely fortunate that the local pub, the Trusty Servant, offered the use of part of the premises, which is on the green in the centre of the village.

“With the help of volunteers, it is intended to renovate and convert the shop into a thriving community shop selling a variety of locally sourced produce and basics.”

Debbie Lewis jointly owns The Trusty Servant with her husband Duane, along with five other pubs across the New Forest.

She said: “We love Minstead village and were equally disappointed when the shop closed, but we felt we could help by offering the shop committee the opportunity of converting our disused storeroom into a small community shop.

“We have discussed this in depth with the committee, and they feel they can make it work, so Duane and I are more than happy to facilitate an option that should not be overly costly for the village shop committee, therefore ensuring the probability of it being a success.

“Not only as owners of the pub do we want it to work; as local villagers we would love it to work.”

A quiz night is being held in Minstead Village Hall tonight (Saturday) in order to raise money for the project.  All are welcome. For tickets, email minsteadcommunityshop@gmail.com.

For more information about the project go to www.minstead.org.uk.

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