Great Paxton Community Shop

Great Paxton Community Shop

When the only shop or pub closes in a rural village it can have a devastating effect on the community. They not only provide vital amenities, but also a valuable place for social interaction, combating rural isolation and loneliness.

Great Paxton in Cambridgeshire lost its only shop in 2013, leaving the villagers with a sense of loss – not only for the convenience of buying local, but also as their shop was a community hub where people were able to meet, a particular lifeline for those living alone.

Three years ago, a meeting was held in the village to sound out support from Great Paxton’s 1100 residents for a community village shop. None of the committee members had shop retail experience, but they did have a determination and willingness for their project to succeed.

The Bell public house in the village offered a site in its car park to locate the community shop, in a central village location. A share scheme, whereby villagers could buy shares in the community shop, got the project off the ground along with some fundraising events, but it was the grant from The Prince’s Countryside Fund, with thanks to Players of People's Postcode Lottery, that enabled the project to become a reality.

The new community village shop opened in November 2017, and already plays an important role within the village – not only for essential grocery items, but also as somewhere that locals can have a coffee and a chat, as well as being a source for local produce. Other community groups are actively encouraged to work with the shop – the village Brownies are planting herbs in the spring in the community raised beds outside the shop, and two schoolchildren volunteer weekly as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

The shop is largely manned by these volunteers, raging in age from 16, to 89 years young Terry. He regularly volunteers, and having recently lost his wife he finds the companionship that the shop provides to be a life line. He said: “I love working in the shop, and would recommend it to anyone. You are never too young or old to volunteer.”

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is committed to supporting rural communities like Great Paxton to deliver vital amenities for its residents. Please help us continue to support villages like this by considering a donation to support our work.