Residents in High Bickington have this weekend celebrated the long-awaited opening of their very own community shop. The not-for-profit shop, which is based in the village’s Meeting Point building on the B3217, is entirely volunteer led and now provides people with the convenient opportunity to access locally produced goods, general foods and household items as well as a seating area where people can meet for a coffee and a slice of homemade cake. Councillor Andy Boyd officially opened the community shop and welcomed its first customers on Saturday 8 October.
The project has been driven by a group of people living in High Bickington who recognised the ever-growing need for a local shop within the village which would stock a wide range of provisions. The shop is registered as a community benefit society, guaranteeing that all profit will benefit the whole community and no one individual.
Funding to date has been achieved through a combination of grants, including from the Trustees of the Meeting Point as well as the Parish Council and the High Bickington Community Fund. Over 100 people have also paid to become members of the shop and support its progress during the past two years since the initial idea was proposed.
Dr David Halpin, Chairman of the management committee, said: “The last village shop in High Bickington closed 12 years ago and as the community has grown, so has the need for there to be a local shop to provide basic essentials for people who may not have regular access to the supermarkets in our surrounding towns of Barnstaple, Torrington and South Molton.
“It will be a meeting place, a communication centre and an important lynchpin of village life. We hope that the shop will be much more than just a convenience store but also a meeting place for neighbours and friends to have a drink and a chat.
“It should add to our village in a way that enriches the lives of the volunteers and customers and will help people stay in High Bickington by reducing isolation as well as making food available locally and more conveniently.
“Much of the appeal of our wonderful village rests on its sense of community and it is the reason that so many people have moved here and remain here, so the presence of a shop does, we feel, greatly enhance that community spirit.”
All staff at the shop are volunteers including the manager and there will be ongoing opportunity for local people to receive training and be involved. For more information about the shop please contact the manager Sue Birch via the shop’s own phone on 01769 561177.
The shop will be open seven days a week from 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm on Saturday and 10am to 12pm on Sunday.
David concluded: “With the shop opening, High Bickington will regain the privileged status of being one of the few North Devon villages that enjoys a wide range of amenities including a church and chapel, a primary school, a post office, two pubs, a GP surgery, a new development of affordable housing, workshops and our community hall. What a great place to live!”