Community shop in village near Banbury given prestigious Queen's Award

A community shop in a village near Banbury has been awarded the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
Shop volunteer Joanna Smyth-Osbourne being presented with the prestigious Queen's Award by HM the Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire James Saunders Watson.Shop volunteer Joanna Smyth-Osbourne being presented with the prestigious Queen's Award by HM the Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire James Saunders Watson.
Shop volunteer Joanna Smyth-Osbourne being presented with the prestigious Queen's Award by HM the Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire James Saunders Watson.

The Sulgrave village shop was started in 2004, two years after the previous shop in the village was forced to close down, leaving Sulgrave without any shop or post office.

The shop, which is run mostly by volunteers, soon became a pivotal feature of the village and a social hub for the villagers. A place where locals call in as much for a chat and to catch up on gossip as they do to stock up on groceries or buy fresh pasties and sausage rolls.

Today (October 14) the volunteers from the shop were presented with the Queen’s Award by the HM Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, James Saunders Watson.

Shop volunteers Joanna Smythe-Osbourne and Mel Kirkpatrick raise a glass.Shop volunteers Joanna Smythe-Osbourne and Mel Kirkpatrick raise a glass.
Shop volunteers Joanna Smythe-Osbourne and Mel Kirkpatrick raise a glass.

Lord-Lieutenant James Saunders Watson, said: “I’m here to present the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is an award that was set up by Her Late Majesty to honour those organisations which are volunteer-led It’s the MBE equivalent for voluntary organisations.

“This shop is the archetypal of a winner of the Queen’s Award, it’s a volunteer-led community enterprise. When the previous shop shut in 2002, the village suddenly realised they needed something to replace it and they came together and took over the old reading room and converted it into a shop that has since become the beating heart of the community and the throbbing heart of the village.

"The lovely thing about coming here and being able to celebrate with the community is to see them get the recognition for all they have done over the last 18 years in building up such a successful enterprise.”

There were snacks and drinks provided by some of the volunteers from the shop and around 50 people were there to celebrate the great achievement for the village.

The shop has wide range of products including freshly baked pasties and sausage rolls during the week.The shop has wide range of products including freshly baked pasties and sausage rolls during the week.
The shop has wide range of products including freshly baked pasties and sausage rolls during the week.

Shop volunteer Joanna Smyth-Osbourne read out a speech after the award was presented.

Joanna said: “We are so proud to receive this prestigious award, which is a wonderful recognition of 18 years of hard work from the dedicated band of volunteers, many of whom have been involved throughout the shop’s life.”

She added: “To be acknowledged for this award when there are only 200 given out each year is very important to our volunteers.

"It is hard work trying to keep the volunteer band going but with this recognition, it shows it is well worth doing the hard work to receive it. It’s such an amazing cornerstone to our community, not just for what the shop provides but the community spirit and the help we give each other.”

The shop was noted for its work during the lockdowns of the past years, when it remained open throughout ensuring elderly and vulnerable villagers had their groceries delivered to their door.

Mel Kirkpatrick, the shop’s volunteer coordinator, said: “The most important thing for the community was that we didn’t close during lockdown. We had people post their shopping lists through the shop door and we packaged their orders up and delivered them around the village community, including those that were shielding so that nobody went without food for the whole of lockdown.

"I’m very proud to be a part of the Sulgrave shop community, it’s a big family and we are always looking for new volunteers to join us.”