TRAILBLAZING villagers in Slaley are doubling their efforts to ensure another vital community hub is retained.
For just four years after residents rallied to raise £282,000 in less than nine weeks to relaunch the Rose and Crown pub, locals are now poised to take over the village shop as a community venture.
Village stalwarts Margaret and Roy Ward have run the shop for more than 50 years, following on from Roy’s parents, and have been torn between their wish to retire and sense of duty to the local community.
But last year, Slaley Community Trust stepped in to help and commissioned a village survey. Ninety six per cent of locals who responded said they valued the service and wanted it to remain.
“It was a huge vote of confidence, which gave us the mandate to push ahead,” said community trust secretary, David Allsop.
A steering group was established to oversee the project, following a public meeting, and now a co-operative society has been formed – similar to the one that already runs the Rose and Crown.
The pub was purchased in 2013 by Slaley Community Assets Ltd with the help of contributions from more than 160 investors.
David, who joins Jerry Cleall-Harding, the Rev. Helen Savage and Norman Watson as founding directors of Slaley Community Shop Ltd, explained the next step.
“Our plan is to rent the shop for up to three years until the co-op can raise enough money to buy the property – as long as we can make the project work.”
Margaret, who was recognised with an MBE in 2011 for her services to the community, said: “We’re very keen to keep the shop at the heart of the community, where it has been for so many years.
“We’ve been really encouraged by the response from local people.”
To date, 60 people have expressed an interest in volunteering to help run the village shop.