A PHONE box that was bought for £2 has made a book exchange and a focal point for a village.

The book exchange in Church Lench was a derelict phone box which the Parish Council had bought for £1 around 4 years ago thinking they could make use of it. Gill Proops and two other residents went to a Parish Council Meeting and pitched the idea of a book exchange. Mrs Proops said: “We have had a flat in Thurlestone in Devon for about 35 years and there is a wonderful book exchange. It is a focus for activities, people have their wedding photos in front of it, they sing carols round it, they have Easter egg hunts for the children around it..”

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The Parish Council said the phone box could not be used for anything as it was too old and that if someone moved it the cast iron would crack. The position was also dangerous as you had to stand on the road to access it. Mrs Proops bought it for £2. Two local men, Peter Fraser, an engineer and Peter Pugh, who’s family run Pugh Haulage went to look at it and said it could be moved.

Mrs Proops took pictures of different places and her son in law Photoshopped the phone box onto them to show people how it would look in different locations. Mrs Proops was “gobsmacked” when the council said the phone box could not go on council land. Luckily Dave Burns who developed the ball court in the village said the phone box could go on the land at the bottom of the ball court. The sports club also gave permission.

They had to wait a year for Telecom to disconnect the electrics.It had to be kept on its side while it was stored in Peter Pugh’s garden as it had a huge lump of cement attached to the bottom of it. Workmen spent months chipping away to remove it. Peter made a stand that could support it and it was finally renovated and put in place on a bed created by Dave. Mrs Proops said: “There is a lovely picnic bench, I have done a planter and Golls Nursery donated the plants. So many people have helped, it’s been amazing, but I’m so glad it’s over!”