A COMMUNITY shop has been opened to serve an area of Taunton which has a lack of local amenities.

The mayor of Taunton, Cllr Fran Smith, officially opened the new Wilton and Sherford Community Shop at Middleway Meeting Hall virtually on Monday, April 13.

The shop, registered as a Community Interest Company, is being run by volunteers to help local residents with access to basic provisions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was established with a grant of £1,500 from the Charter Trustees for Taunton Unparished Area Grant Fund

A further £1,000 from the Somerset Community Foundation will be used to provide much needed stock.

Cllr Smith said: “This is a much needed local shop in an area with a high number of older members of the population.

“It’s wonderful to see people rally round to support each other and those in need during the current crisis, and I was delighted to be able to take part in the official opening while still observing advice on social distancing.”

The shop is already proving to be a much-needed facility, and the stock list is growing.

Natalie Dyson, one of the directors who helped to set up the shop, said: “It really is utterly unbelievable to think what our little team has achieved in under two weeks.

“We set up a not for profit Community Interest Company, obtained start-up funding, recruited volunteers, opened a business bank account, appointed accountants, built relationships with stockists, begged and borrowed from all over Taunton and were met with incredible kindness by the people who donated things,

“Really I am humbled beyond belief at the amazing skill set we have between us and the camaraderie we have developed. I’d like to give a big shout out to every individual and all the businesses and organisations that have helped to make this happen.”

The team is keen to stress it’s a resource for anyone to use, not just elderly or vulnerable people.

The shop is being managed by Izzi Stockton, of Izzi Stockton Bridal in the town centre, with the help of Andrew Samuel, one of the directors who set up the shop alongside Ms Dyson, who has now stepped back to focus on other coronavirus community groups.

Simon Walker, one of the volunteers, said: “As a new member of the volunteer management team I have seen just how committed all those involved are and it is a privilege to support them and the wider community in this way.

“We are all really keen to promote the shops offer to the whole community, not just be a resource for those people who are elderly, vulnerable or self-isolating, but to everyone.

“We are open for all and a very warm welcome awaits. Orders can be taken in the shop or via phone and deliveries arranged where necessary.”