RESIDENTS of Peopleton, near Pershore, were this week celebrating the first anniversary of their community shop and Post Office which was saved from closure last year.

The future of the shop was plunged into doubt after the previous owner announced his intention to sell up. But rather than lose the service villagers secured the leasehold and have run the business as a community venture.

To mark the anniversary a day long celebration took place at The Pantry yesterday.

It was also an opportunity for people to get a sneak preview of the shop’s new tea room which will be opened in phases throughout December and used to exhibit paintings and art work by local artists.

Steve Dexter, manager and sub-postmaster at The Pantry, said: “It has been an exciting year for us and Peopleton generally.

“This time last year the shop was on the verge of closing for good which would have been a real shame, it’s a focal point for the village and the tea room will add another dimension to that.”

The venture has attracted a lot of support and publicity since it began. It gained national exposure through the BBC’s Countryfile programme which filmed there in February, and was included as part of filming for the BBC’s Escape to the Country programme in December last year.

Steve added: “Since then we have had quite a few people come through the shop to have a look and see what we are doing, it’s been really good for business and for our local suppliers.“

The shop is staff by 25 dedicated volunteers and has been praised as a “great example of community enterprise” by Peter Luff, the MP for Mid Worcestershire.

He said: “A year on and the shop is flourishing. It takes energy and imagination to start up an enterprise like this and real commitment to keep it going.

“I am delighted that the shop is such a success. Local residents have really put the people in Peopleton and shown how essential services can be safeguarded in rural communities.”