A KEY figure in a community-run project has reflected on its success over the past 12 years just as she takes a back seat.

Judy Highton has stepped down as chair of Crowcombe Village Shop Committee after four-and-a-half years but has no doubt that it will continue to thrive.

The shop and post office was set up by a group of villagers, led by Ian Billinge and Kevin Chittenden, who wanted to bring the much-needed facilities back to the rural village after its former Post Office and separate shop closed within months of each other.

After generating funds through Lottery money, grants, loans and an innovative shareholder scheme, they renovated a small barn and opened its doors in the new guise in April 2001.

A solid base of around 35 volunteers, and the 11-strong Crowcombe Village Shop Committee all work together to make it an ongoing success.

Judy said: “When people move away from the village or can’t continue volunteering for whatever reason there is always someone else who soon joins us.

“Crowcombe is a thriving village and because we are lucky enough to have a school, we have a lot of young families, but we also have quite a few older people so it is important they can survive just by shopping here.

“One reason for its success is that we didn’t aim too high to begin with, but built up over time.

“Also, because we are all volunteers we have relatively small overheads so we manage not to put too much of a mark-up on our goods, and as we are a community shop, we want it to be that way.”

It is not only run by the community, but also serves it in more ways than one – any profits which are not needed for the maintenance of the shop go into an account which one-off, non-political projects in the village can apply for. Some of that money also went towards building an extension in 2011 to enable the shop to give more back.

Judy added: “The Post Office staff are also on our committee and are very much part of the shop – we help each other.

“It is a happy place to work, which I think is good for customers – both locals and tourists.”

As no-one has come forward to replace Judy as chair yet, the shop will be a committee-run venture.

If anyone is interested in taking up the mantle, or in volunteering, pop in to the shop or call Judy on 01984-618244.