Couple praised as village shop is saved

There were celebrations yesterday as a Norfolk MP officially opened a village shop which has been saved from closure by a local couple.Ray and Christine Church have taken over the lease for the village stores in Bressingham and have transformed the premises by refurbishing the interior and introducing a wide range of fresh produce, including locally-sourced meat, bread, fruit and vegetables.

There were celebrations yesterday as a Norfolk MP officially opened a village shop which has been saved from closure by a local couple.

Ray and Christine Church have taken over the lease for the village stores in Bressingham and have transformed the premises by refurbishing the interior and introducing a wide range of fresh produce, including locally-sourced meat, bread, fruit and vegetables.

Earlier this year, the future of the shop was in doubt after owners Allan and Jackie Bryne announced plans to call it a day after learning its sub-post office was to go. A steering committee was set up to examine ways of saving the shop, and Mr and Mrs Church, who ran a village shop in Botesdale for six years, offered to take over the lease. The couple have transformed the premises and aim to challenge perceptions about village stores by competing with the sort of deals offered by supermarkets.

Customers will find value brands along with offers such as buy one, get one free or three bottles of wine for £10. Mr Church said: “I thought long and hard before taking up the challenge but I am really pleased with the progress. I knew we would have to develop the shop and the reaction from customers has been very positive. We need the comm-unity to continue supporting us.”

Rodger Aves, parish council chairman, said: “It was a knock back when we lost the post office. This is great for Bressingham.”

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said: “I think it is marvellous to see people taking on a village shop, especially in the present economic climate. The village shop is genuinely the hub of the community and it has got to have people to support it. Congratulations to Ray and Christine.”