Lord Sainsbury cut the ribbon to officially open the new community-run Candover Valley Store, coffee area and Post Office on Saturday 22 June.

At a community celebration, a local band provided entertainment and guests enjoyed homemade goods and drinks.  Jane Laws, Chair of the Candover Valley Community Store committee, thanked the many local people and organisations who have supported the project. Lord Sainsbury leased the land on which the store has been built and has given enormous support to the project in many different ways.

Lord Sainsbury said: “I am delighted to open the Candover Valley Store. Lady Sainsbury and I have been very interested in the project from the start some years ago.  We have watched it progress since building began last November and we are now very pleased to see it completed and open for business.”

The store, which serves the villages of the Candover Valley, cost a total of £220,000 to build, fit out and stock.  This was raised through a combination of donations from supporters, grants and a community share scheme which now has over 250 participants.

Grant funding was received from National Lottery Awards for All; Prince’s Countryside Fund; The Linbury Trust; Hampshire County Council; Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council; The LEADER Programme; Plunkett Foundation and Power to Change.

The Bishop of Basingstoke, Rt Revd David Williams, said: “This is a true community undertaking, built by and for local people who really care about keeping their villages alive.  It is run by them too.  Volunteering at the shop is very rewarding for those involved.  It is a wonderful way of combatting rural isolation which can be a serious concern for both young and old.”

A band of 45 volunteers will provide support on a rota basis and are vital to the success of the enterprise. It offers a wide range of groceries and household essentials including fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers, chilled and frozen foods, prepared meals, baby food, cards, gifts and Hampshire-produced cheeses, artisan coffee, real ale and award-winning sparkling wine. Exhibitions of local art and crafts will also be held. In the true spirit of community, the store offers prescription services and will seek to assist older and housebound residents with home deliveries, wherever possible.

A coffee area with tables and chairs tempts shoppers, passing hikers and cyclists to stay to enjoy locally roasted coffee, homemade cakes and sandwiches.  High chairs, free WiFi and USB charging points are also provided. An outdoor deck overlooking the glorious Hampshire countryside provides additional seating for sunny days and bike racks and tethering points (and water bowls) for dogs, mean that all visitors are catered for.

Richard Saunders, treasurer of Candover Valley Community Store committee, said: “People are overjoyed with their new community store. We are ideally located in the centre of the village. It looks fantastic and there is a great welcoming atmosphere.  The shop is well stocked and we are supporting many local producers. It was crucial to keep a post office in the village, but we have achieved that and a great deal more.  The coffee area is already proving to be a popular meeting place.”

If you would like support to set-up a community shop in your local area, please do Contact Us for more information.