Dalwood’s pioneering community shop and post office is 12-years-old and still going strong - thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers

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Villagers at Dalwood have been celebrating the 12th anniversary of a pioneering local initiative.

After consulting residents and with support from East Devon District Council, Dalwood Community Shop was opened on December 5, 2001 – one of the first in Devon. The Post Office was added in January 2002.

The building was converted and extended from a single council garage in a block of three and the premises were enlarged in 2005.

Since its launch it has become a vital centre of village life, where news is exchanged and upcoming events are advertised on a revolving display unit.

The shop is open seven days a week, closing only on Christmas and New Years Day. And it is entirely manned by volunteers – around 35 of them, who cover shifts on the till, buying and administration.

They stock a good range of branded Sainsbury and Co-op products plus local bread, milk, eggs etc., and the freezers contain ready meals, desserts and a variety of meat items from award-wining Axminster butchers Complete Meats.

Being situated in Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) the environment is very important to the shop team which is why they went plastic bag free in 2008 and installed solar panels in 2010 at a cost of some £10,000, paid for by local grants.”

One of the early pioneers, it is now one of more than 300 community shops operating across the country – some 30 of them in Devon.

The shop has twice been highly commended in the Countryside Alliance Awards – known as the rural Oscars.

Management committee secretary Shelagh Beak said Dalwood’s operation was seen as a model for others and they had shared their experiences with several start-ups in Devon.

Praising their team of volunteers, without whose “enthusiastic and reliable help” the shop could not exist she added: “Even after 12 years the shop continues to grow and looks forward to serve the community for many more years.”

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