PENGUINS have unwittingly given a boost to a village's attempts to keep its post office and community shop.

Building work starts on a new Oake Post Office and District Community Shop on Monday following a massive fundraising initiative.

Parish council chairman Sue Davies will cut the first turf on Monday before builders start work on the project.

The facility will be housed in an extension to Oake Village Hall, relocating from its current premises in a bungalow in Saxon Close.

Local people have been busy raising the £140,000 needed to finance the move, with £95,000 coming from the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund and other sources.

As the fundraising nears its target, a further £965 was made on Saturday through a talk by nature photographer Ursula Franklin on her mission to photograph every species of penguin in their natural environment.

Oake shop secretary Diane Charlton said the village post office has been even busier lately due to the closure of Wellington Post Office.

She said: "We now nearly have enough money to relocate the shop in the new extension.

"We are currently working hard and having fun raising the rest of the money from our local supporters, customers and volunteers.

"We have signed the lease for the land with the parish council and a contract with our chosen builders (Blue Wave Construction, of Wellington).

"We start the building work next Monday. We are all excited and we plan a small cutting the first turf ceremony at 11am on Monday.

The new building will be about 50 per cent bigger than the existing shop, giving organisers scope to expand the business and increase the line of products it sells.

The current shop is staffed by a team of volunteers, while three trained and paid staff are employed behind the counter of the post office in the bungalow, which the owner plans to sell once the business moves out.