'Really humbling' - village community shop shortlisted for national award

Coddenham community shop outside

Coddenham Community Shop has been chosen as a finalist in the 'Rural vision' category of the awards, recognising efforts to work with local suppliers and businesses. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Coddenham Community Shop is celebrating the news that it has been shortlisted for national honours in the Plunkett Foundation 2021 Rural Community Business awards.

The shop has been chosen as a finalist for an award in the 'Rural Vision' category, which recognises efforts to work with local suppliers and businesses, especially in the last year with the effects of the global pandemic.

Chairman Rod Stanley-Bell said: "I knew we had a good story to tell, and although I was hopeful, never imagined we would end up as one of the three finalists in the national competition!

Chairman Rod. Coddenham Community shop is up for a National Award PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Chairman Rod Stanley-Bell says it is "really humbling" that the efforts of the Coddenham Community Shop are being recognised on the national stage. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

"We've been in a tough period almost from the day we opened for business just over two years ago. But like many organisations we have weathered the storm of the pandemic making the major changes needed to support our customers as we went.

"Our volunteers have worked miracles in terms of effort, creativity and resilience - and apart from one week early in the pandemic, we have stayed open for business throughout.

"However, like many other community shops and organisations, we lost a lot of our volunteers who had to medically shield or had other family commitments.

"From an initial team of 50 volunteers this almost overnight became 18 people and our shop manager, willing and able to maintain the shop and its business.

Shop staff Bliss volunteers Colin and Gail and Chairman Rod. Coddenham Community shop is up for a Na

The hard work and commitment from the team of volunteers behind the scenes of the shop allowed it to stay open for the vast majority of the pandemic, providing vital services to the village and surrounding areas. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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"So, like many other community shops, we rolled up our sleeves, offered telephone ordering and organised deliveries to customers in Coddenham and many of the other villages and communities in our part of mid Suffolk."

"Without the support and commitment of our team of volunteers, we would not be where we are today as a thriving community business - and certainly not in line for a national award."

The popular shop has only been open since September 2019 but has already had a big impact on the local community. Mr Stanley-Bell added:

"We believe it makes a tremendous difference to our own village and the wider community too. Coddenham itself has a significant older population and many tell us that they don't know what they would do without the community shop. 

Coddenham Community shop is up for a National Award PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

The community shop stocks a vast range of locally sourced produce, as well as operating a small coffee shop. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

"It is a real hub of the village"

The awards are held in London this Thursday (November 25), hosted by Dame Prue Leith, and Mr Stanley-Bell is hoping that the community shop is celebrating even more success later this week.

He said: "Getting to the finals is obviously absolutely great, but winning would be outstandingly brilliant - and a great feather in the cap for the whole team. I think a few glasses of celebratory fizz with the volunteers and supporters would also be on the menu!"

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