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Campaign formed to resurrect village store in Northwold

PUBLISHED: 08:30 29 October 2011

Members of the community Group Northwold Can, which has been set up to bring back a sense of village life after their shop and post offcie closed are looking for help in reopening the shop again.
l-r:Stephanie Squires, Stephen Freemantle, Sue Bury.

Members of the community Group Northwold Can, which has been set up to bring back a sense of village life after their shop and post offcie closed are looking for help in reopening the shop again. l-r:Stephanie Squires, Stephen Freemantle, Sue Bury.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Villagers in west Norfolk have rallied round to bring back a sense of community spirit which they hope will translate into more facilities.

The village of Northwold, near Brandon, lost its shop and post office some 18 months ago and since then residents have noticed a distinct drop in community spirit.

Now, action group Northwoldcan has been established in a bid to bring the village back to life with the eventual aim of reopening a community shop.

Chairman Steve Freemantle, 56, a customer information assistant at Forest Heath District Council, said the group had already tested its effectiveness by establishing four notice boards and was now hoping to garner as much support as possible.

“The shop in particular was a focal point because there is no community hub in the village.

“Yes, there’s a pub but not everyone drinks and when there was a shop people walked and talked. Because people have to get in a car to travel to a shop, there are fewer people in the village.

“The thing we’re trying to achieve is to get the community together again. There are lots of organisations whose communication could be a bit better and I’m sure that happens in a lot of villages, so we’re trying to get everybody on the same wavelength. We don’t want to replace anybody but we want to work with them,” he said.

The group emerged following a public meeting earlier this month which was convened to see what people would like to happen in their village. Since then a second meeting has been held to establish support for a new shop, at which around 70 people arrived to hear more.

Mr Freemantle said that although premises still needed to be found, the aim would be to staff the shop with volunteers, with a paid full-time manager, for local people to buy shares, and for it to become self-sustainable within three to five years.

The next stage would also be to find a venue. The previous 
shop building is for sale, although it could be part of a residential complex, or a portable building 
on a piece of land in the village could be a possibility.

The group is hopeful of securing a grant to fund the project and will hold another meeting later this month to try to progress the project.

Mr Freemantle added: “Everybody we’ve asked has said yes to buying some shares in a community shop and a lot have said they would volunteer.”

For more information, visit the group’s website at www.northwoldcan.wordpress.com


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