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Villagers Band Together to Set Up Convenience Store After Effingham Fires

Published on: 21 May, 2020
Updated on: 21 May, 2020

Shoppers and volunteer staff in a properly distanced queue outside the temporary store on first day of trading

by Chris Dick

The Effingham community has stepped up to provide a temporary village grocery store after the April 21 fires closed Effingham Village Supermarket and Bevan’s the butcher.

Volunteers from the community, St Lawrence and Little Bookham parish churches and other residents, worked with Effingham Parish Council (EPC) and the owners of Layla’s cafe to find a way to help residents who had depended on the supermarket and were having trouble reaching alternative outlets.

Damage caused by the April fire

On Tuesday, May 19, a group led by Revd Mandy MacVean, opened the temporary Community Store at Layla’s cafe in The Street, Effingham and took £200 in the first day of trading. The cafe had been closed due to social distancing rules but the store is open for everyone.

A shopper makes their selection

Revd MacVean said: “This could not have been possible without the free use of Layla’s and the very generous grants from Effingham Parish Council, Guildford Borough Council, Bookham Residents Association and the sponsorship of Bookers Cash and Carry.” Both councils had each donated grants of £5,000.

Revd Mandy MacVean

“It has been wonderful to meet so many new people,” the cleric added. “It makes my other job so much easier. The support we have received from local shops such as Bala, the owner of the fire-damaged supermarket, Parker & Sons hardware and Effingham Mini Mart has been wonderful.

“Bookers, the wholesale produce company, donated a till and a comprehensive range of food items, all free. The real thanks goes to the amazing owners of Layla’s, Euna Kang and Ian Shier. They’ve let us use their premises free during the lockdown.”

Cllr Ian Symes, the EPC chairman, said in a statement: “We are very pleased to give financial support to this volunteer initiative which will help our vulnerable residents to shop safely during these worrying times.

Cllr Ian Symes

“Our Community Fund offers grants to support community projects and new initiatives that benefit the residents of Effingham, and the Community Store is a prime example of that. I offer my sincere thanks to the volunteer management team who have worked hard to set this up, and to the volunteers who will run the store.”

Cllr Arnold Pindar, vice-chairman of the parish council, said: “Shops are a vital part of a vibrant village community, and I am delighted residents will again be able to buy essential food and household items locally. This will help not only people without a car or without access to online shopping, but also those who prefer to walk to shop locally, avoiding the large supermarkets during the coronavirus emergency.”

Cllr Liz Hogger

Cllr Liz Hogger, parish councillor and also Guildford Borough Councillor for Effingham, added: “This magnificent effort by local volunteers is a wonderful example of the community spirit which has come to the fore during this dreadful coronavirus situation. It is great that both our local councils, parish and borough, have stepped up to the mark to provide immediate funding to make the Community Store a reality.”

Bevan’s, the butchers may lend the Community Store a freezer to stock a limited array of frozen meats. The freezer would be monitored by Bevan’s staff to ensure H&S standards. Talks are in the early stages.

The Community Store will be run by local volunteers and be open 10am – 2pm, Monday till Saturday, including the Late May Bank Holiday Monday. All profits will go to the EPC Community Fund for other village projects. And when the store finally closes the remaining stock will go to food banks and those in need.

See other stories on the Effingham fires here.

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