Surrey villagers buy last remaining shop

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Villagers in Surrey have saved their only remaining shop by buying it.

The people of Dunsfold, near Godalming, raised £200,000 in less than two months to keep the store and post office open after its owners decided to retire.

They secured funding and advice from a charity and sold shares in the new community shop.

The village, which has a population of just more than 1,000, raised 80% of the total cost itself and secured grants and a loan for the rest.

The Plunkett Foundation, a charity that provides advice and support for communities, said the transition from the idea to getting the shop trading is among the quickest it has known.

'Profit into community'

Its spokesman, Katherine Darling, said experience suggested that once communities had taken over a commercial enterprise, they were passionate to make them succeed.

"The profit goes back into the community, either through the shop or community projects. And because community shops rely on volunteers, their costs are an absolute minimum."

The community buyout of Dunsfold village shop and post office has not only safeguarded a convenient service for the village but revived a social hub, those behind the campaign said.

The parish council had been initially approached by the retiring owners, Sue and Tony Bowden, who could not find a buyer.

The Dunsfold Community Shop Association was set up last July and canvassed support in the village for retaining the services.

Within seven months, the money for buying and setting up the shop was in place, the store was open, with a new manager, aided by 42 local volunteers, and a sub-postmistress appointed.

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