OUR president Sue Horsfall gave a warm welcome to 44 members and eight guests at our monthly meeting, and wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Our Christmas carol service had been a great success raising £124.60 for our new charity. She reminded members of the darts evening on January 22 and supper club in February.

Margaret Powell then introduced John Riddiford. A local man of many talents, John can be described as a businessman, shopkeeper, fireman and paramedic. He entertained us with a history of his store at 51 High Street, which has been in his family for three generations.

His grandad first worked in the store as an apprentice grocer eventually buying the shop in 1928.

John is keeping the old fashioned corner shop tradition alive, even the fittings in the shop date back to WWI.

He is always looking for new trends, and trying to stay ahead of the supermarkets offering many unique items. They even cook their own hams in a huge boiler room at the back of the store.

They stock as much local produce as possible, local cheeses, and home made cakes and pastries.

He has a facebook page which is widely followed, bringing visitors from Europe, even America. There is a rumour that Johns store was the inspiration for “Open All Hours”, and people still come to take photographs.  Ronnie Barker did actually visit the store in 1981.

John is also a part time fireman answering the call to anything from car, plane or train crashes to cows stuck in slurry pits, and a first responder for the ambulance service. He ended his fascinating talk thanking everyone for their custom, wishing us a Happy New Year, and saying your local shop is “For Life Not Just For Christmas”.

Sue thanked John for a very interesting and entertaining evening.

Our meetings are held every third Thursday of the month at The Methodist Church and new members are always welcome.