THE "BEATING heart" of Almondsbury, otherwise known as the village store, has been recognised for its outstanding work in the community at the rural oscars.

Almondsbury Community Shop, which is run by 90 volunteers, was crowned Midlands champion in the village store/post office category at the 2012 Countryside Alliance Awards.

Its dedicated team has now got through to the national finals will find out whether it has been voted overall winner at a special ceremony in Westminster on Wednesday, March 13.

Alun Evans, chairman of Almondsbury Community Shop, told the Gazette: "It's fantastic. It's a good recognition of the hard work that the volunteers put in. You are working five or six days a week.

"The judging is not on how the shop is run but the role it plays in the community. It’s nice that an external body says it’s a really good little shop."

The convenience store was set up in March 2009 to allow elderly and disabled people, unable to drive or travel too far to a big supermarket, to shop locally. It was an instant hit and soon become a community hub as well as a convivial place to run errands.

Volunteers are each allocated tasks, such as food orders, bookkeeping, cleaning and inventory and welcome up to 1000 customers each week.

Mr Evans and a couple of volunteers will attend the perfectly-timed finals at the Houses of Parliament as the event will coincide with the shop's fourth anniversary.

"It's our fourth year anniversary in March," he added. "I am going to take a couple of volunteers with me. But there are probably 50 people I want to take with me.

Mr Evans added: "Winning the finals would be a fabulous achievement but being named Midlands champion is already a great honour.

"Winning anything like that should have a positive impact. It will be very good for volunteers’ morale and get people even more excited about working in the shop."