Villagers who lost local shop set to open new community store

Bodham parish councillor Callum Ringer, who is hoping to open a community shop run by a mix of paid

Bodham parish councillor Callum Ringer, who is hoping to open a community shop run by a mix of paid staff and volunteers.Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

People in a north Norfolk village are hoping to put the heart back into their community by opening a new not-for-profit shop.

When Bodham Village Stores closed in 2014, residents of the village, and of nearby East Beckham and West Beckham, were left facing a four-mile trek to their nearest shop.

But, inspired by similar schemes at Great Ryburgh and Itteringham, where a volunteer group has run a shop since 1997, a team of parish councillors are now hoping to get the backing of residents to launch Bodham and Beckham Community Shop Project.

Callum Ringer, who is the driving force behind the idea, said that with dozens of new houses built in Bodham in recent years, a shop is needed more than ever before.

"It took something out of the village when the shop closed and I think that sense of community spirit you have in smaller places really suffered," Mr Ringer said. "A significant proportion of our residents live in social housing and we have issues with isolation, so to be able to just nip out and get the staples like bread and milk without having to get in the car or on the bus made a big difference."

With the support of fellow parish councillors from the three villages, Mr Ringer has drawn up a questionnaire asking for people's views on the idea of a shop run by a mix of paid staff and volunteers.

"We have had a very positive response so far and, although this is only the very first step, I'm hoping that we will be able to get as good a result as possible so we can start looking at potential sites and applying for grants," he said.

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The questionnaire has been delivered to every household and results will be presented at a public meeting to be held after the closing date of January 31. A steering group will then be formed to take the project further.

Mr Ringer said: "We had a shop in Bodham for more than 100 years and I think this would put back some of what we've lost, as well as providing a hub for the community - it would be a shop and much more."

For more information about the scheme, visit the Bodham and Beckham community noticeboard on Facebook or phone 07824 381519. The questionnaire can also be completed online here.