Saved shop keeps the village spirit thriving

28 September 2018 | North East England

Dick Moules

In Humshaugh, the shop is at the heart of village life in every sense

When people help the people around them, it makes communities thrive. And nowhere is that more apparent than Humshaugh, Northumberland, where locals came together to save their shop from closure, and gave every aspect of village life a boost.

Today the shop is at the heart of the community in every sense, with every penny of its profits funding schemes from arts projects to text books for young people.

It is run by an army of more than 40 volunteers who devote their time to a venture that was borne out of a looming crisis in the village with the closure of its post office in 2008.

Rather than watch all its services slowly die off, locals rallied round and through frantic fund-raising and securing donations the shop became a community-owned powerhouse of village life.

Dick Moules became chairman of Humshaugh Community Ventures Ltd when it was launched in 2009.

He said: "There was a real determination in Humshaugh that the post office would be saved, but in the end it might have been the best thing that ever happened to the village.

"Because what sprung from that has been something very special. The community spirit here has been extraordinary and it has stopped the domino effect that other places may have seen which means that when one business closes others quickly follow.

"Here the village is thriving and I think the shop is the reason for that."

Now it is thriving and helping more projects and individuals than ever. Annual profits of between £10,000 and £12,000 go to helping community arts projects, theatre groups, a film night in the village hall and securing a power point for electric cars in the village. The windows have been replaced in the pavilion of the village cricket club, which is currently aiming for a double in local league and cup competitions.

A nine-year-old boy with Down's syndrome - who regularly serves behind the counter of the shop - was bought a laptop, a teenage trampolinist was given help in travelling to events and students from the village have been given help in buying books for their university courses.

It has been such a success that last year the shop's volunteers were presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Volunteer Maurice Gilmour, 85, said: "It is the most extraordinary example of community spirit anyone will find, it is what I would call the best kind of socialism.

"People give their time for the good of the village and it has been a real success story because so many volunteers in what is quite a small village choose to give their time."

Mr Gilmour also runs theatre groups in the village which have been helped by the shop's charitable donations.

He said: "I have spent all my life working in the arts and I know very well how difficult it can be to secure funding.

"It wouldn't be possible to run the village youth theatre, the adult theatre group and our film nights without the support we get from the shop."

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