Almondsbury community shop tipped for rural Oscar
A COMMUNITY shop in Almondsbury has been tipped for an Oscar.
It may not be the glamorous Hollywood kind, but the village store has been nominated for the Countryside Alliance Awards, more widely known as the Rural Oscars, in the best shop category for the Midlands.
The convenience store run by volunteers was set up nearly four years ago and has since become a staple of village life.
In fact, it is "much more than a shop" and caters to locals’ individual and diverse needs, especially those of its elderly customers.
Alun Evans, chairman of Almondsbury community shop told the Gazette the team counted a whopping 90 volunteers.
He said: "We opened in March 2009. A year before that we tested the waters with a small temporary shop in the village hall. Several customers nominated us. We received this thing saying we’ve gone through to the regional finals which is brilliant.
"It was set up because it’s difficult to walk to a shop from Almondsbury. A few years ago we had no shop and when people got to an age when they could not use a car, they were leaving in the village."
Volunteers are each allocated tasks, such as food orders, bookkeeping, cleaning and inventory and welcome up to 1000 customers each week.
"It has been hugely successful," Mr Evans added. "Everybody says it’s changed the community and really brought the community together. That’s what makes it worthwhile."
John Tovey and his Labrador Dez are two of the shops’ most loyal customers. Mr Tovey lost his sight two years ago as a result of diabetes. This made fulfilling the simplest tasks a constant struggle. But thanks to the help of staff doing his weekly shop is not one of them and all he has to do is hand over his list and wait patiently for his errands to be ran for him.
He said: "I can't praise the shop enough I thoroughly enjoy going there."
Almondsbury Parish Council chairman, Cliff Hilliker, has volunteered at the shop and in fact was inspired to get into local politics by his stint at the store.
He said: "The main thing about it is it’s not just a shop. It’s anything but just a shop. Especially for older or infirm people. They can go to the shop and get what they need, if necessary people will help them carry it home."
The Countryside Alliance Awards, now in their eighth year, celebrate skill, tradition and enterprise in rural areas. Amondsbury community shop staff will find out in January whether they have gone through to the grand national final which will be held at the House of Parliament on March 13, 2013.
To find out more about the shop visit www.almondsburycommunityshop.org.uk