VILLAGERS in Stoke St Gregory will be able to do their shopping in a container in the main square from the start of next year.

A group set up to buy the contents and goodwill of the Village Stores, which is closing at the end of next month, and the Royal Oak pub has not yet raised enough money for the whole project.

So the makeshift 'shop in a box' will be in service while organisers attempt to attract more people to invest in the scheme.

The Heart Of The Village (HOTV) initiative involves selling shares to fund a community facility of a pub and corner shop based in the Royal Oak.

It needs to raise between £200,000 and £500,000 through selling £25 shares - people can invest between £100 and £20,000 - but so far there is only £129,550 in the kitty.

Nick Sloan, one of the people behind the HOTV initiative, said: "Since it has become clear that we will not be able to buy the Royal Oak in time to house the shop when the Village Stores closes at the end of December, we have come up with an interim solution to ensure that the village still has a shop while we pursue our goal of buying the Oak.

"Plunkett Foundation kindly referred us to the village of Broughton, in Hampshire, who have been successfully running a shop out of a container for 18 months, but are about to move into their new building.

"They have agreed to let us take over their temporary shop in a box, and it should be being delivered here in early December.

"(Shop owners) Ian and Karen have kindly offered to transfer their business to the box, and to train volunteers for a transitional period until the end of March, by which time we plan to run it as a purely community business."

HOTV is looking for locals to volunteer and a paid shop manager to run the shop and later the pub.

The setting up the temporary shop will not be paid for out of HOTV funds, but will be directly funded either by the parish council or by donation.

Meanwhile, Mr Sloan has thanked the 151 investors who have already come forward and is trying to encourage more people to join in.

He said: "We need the numbers, both so that HOTV is as representative as possible, and because the more money we have, the easier it will be to provide a better and more secure set of services for the village well into the future."