Collyweston used to have 2 village shops, a school, a butcher’s, a garage, 3 pubs and a post office. Over time each of these businesses closed and in 2007 all we had left was our well used and much loved post office and a fine dining pub.
Regrettably, shortly afterwards our post office lost its battle in the last round of closures. It was at this point that a presentation was made to the village about the growing number of Community Shops springing up around the country and the Parish Council asked if anyone was willing to pursue the idea. Two determined residents came forward and volunteered to give it a go.
The search for premises commenced and after three years The Old Butcher’s Shop at 21 High Street became available to us. An independent committee was formed and the process began.
We got off to a flying start with a survey of the village which showed there was sufficient demand; then followed the long haul of raising funds and forming the company. The preferred and most suitable structure being an Industrial and Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community (a BENCOM or not for profit organisation).
Grant applications were made in earnest and within a year funds started to come in from
- Northamptonshire Community Foundation
- The Plunkett Foundation (backed by the Co-op Bank)
- Rural Development Programme for England (backed by Northamptonshire ACRE, East Midlands Development Agency (now disbanded), the EU and DEFRA.
We also received sponsorship from local businesses and RAF Wittering. After receiving landlord’s permission for alterations to the interior and the relevant Planning and Listed Building Consent we opened our doors on 1st July 2010. Long standing resident, 90 year old Gordon Barnes cut the ribbon at our opening ceremony and a party was held in the village hall. Customers soon began to appear and with our determination to provide a friendly service supporting as many local suppliers as we can, word began to spread.
In 2011 we were nominated for 2 awards:
- The Northamptonshire ‘Improve Your Patch’ Award – which we won!
- The Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards in the Local Food Heroes category.
Our two founding members attended the Gala Dinner at Holdenby House in the heart of Northamptonshire – and having been told that there were 90 businesses competing in this category, thought: “Oh well, it was nice to be invited…” not realising that we had won!!
During the previous week the shop had appeared on BBC Look East and the resulting interviews and article were screened at the Awards Ceremony. A very proud moment, with a few tears! (A CD of the article is kept at the shop.)
Since those heady days we have continued to grow and improve our service and products, stocking goods from
- King’s Cliffe Bakery
- Fowler’s poultry, King’s Cliffe
- Gallone’s ice cream, Northampton
- Farrington’s rapeseed oil, Wellingborough
- meat products from Nelson’s Butchers – available to order
- Grasmere Farm meat products – available to order
- Eve’s Cakes, Woodnewton
- fresh veg from Karen Cunnington of Stamford
- flowers and plants from Amanda Milsom of Collyweston
- cheese from the Stamford Cheese Cellar
- frozen ready meals from Cook of Stamford
- honey from John Ireland, Easton on the Hill
- …and where we can’t sources something locally we buy through the local wholesalers helping to protect jobs and sustain the local economy.
We are also very proud to have been able to put money back into the local community by funding the replacement of the village bench opposite the High Street, in memory of Colly News editor Jean Sowerby, and we also make annual donations to the 5 village groups:
- St Andrews Church
- Collyeweston Village Hall
- Collyweston Playing Field Association
- Collyweston Historical and Preservation Society
- Collyweston Players…
…AND we are very pleased to announce that the defibrillator is here and (as of February 2016) is due to be installed in the next few weeks.
But more importantly we have made some very dear friends, not least our wonderful team of volunteers who are prepared to go that extra mile to help keep our village vibrant. Well done Collyweston Community Shop!