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Community drop-in gives first glimpse of new Pilley Community Shop at Boldre War Memorial Hall

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MORE than 100 residents joined a drop-in session as the clock counts down to the launch of a new community shop in Boldre.

The open evening at Boldre War Memorial Hall was a chance for the community to tour the newly constructed shop premises which will replace the former Pilley Community shop when it closes later this summer.

Shop fitting is set to start this month ahead of the official opening in August.

Frances Mason from the shop committee is presented with a cheque by Ros Wort of Boldre and South Baddesley WI (photo: Frances Voizey)
Frances Mason from the shop committee is presented with a cheque by Ros Wort of Boldre and South Baddesley WI (photo: Frances Voizey)

As reported by the A&T, Pilley Community Shop and Post Office will relocate in August after receiving warning two years ago that its lease agreement would not be extended beyond October 2022.

A plan was developed to co-locate the shop at Boldre War Memorial Hall around half a mile away, with national park planners agreeing a single-storey side and rear extension to accommodate what was described as an “essential village asset”.

During the drop-in evening, Boldre and South Baddesley WI presented a cheque for £1,250 to support the shop and a project to relocate an existing play area.

Pilley Community Shop treasurer Neil Eccles added: “We have received amazing support from individuals in the community, including our volunteers, but also from many local institutions like the New Forest National Park and New Forest District Council community engagement who have contributed financially.

“Boldre Parish Council have helped with funding too and also by cooperating with Boldre War Memorial Hall to relocate the play park and allow the building.”

Run by manager Caroline Darke and a team of volunteers for the last five years, the shop had operated on the same site in the village for a century before its imminent move.

Ms Darke said: “Our volunteers and staff are excited at the prospect of moving into new bespoke premises.

“We have been working hard to prepare for the move and, of course, there is still much to do.

“We are so lucky to have the community shop – it plays a vital role in maintaining the life of the village. We are confident that we can build on that role in the new premises at the centre of the village.”

Pilley Community Shop committee spokesperson Vincent Slattery said: “The new building has been created for us by Boldre War Memorial Hall and for most of the 100-plus residents it was a first opportunity to visit the shop space.”

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