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How it all began

For many years, Brockweir and Hewelsfield each had a general store. When the last shop, The Triangle Stores, closed in March 2000, the Parish Council responded to much local discussion and interest by organising a public meeting to explore the possibility of opening a community-run village shop. It was agreed to form a steering committee to take the project forward.

First steps

After much research, a steep learning curve around statutory and planning requirements, organisational structures and administrative processes and visits to other community shops to see how they were run, a draft business plan was completed. A consultation showed that 73% of residents who took part were in favour of building a new shop and post office, developing the playing field and installing play equipment.

For the community and more...
As a result the group formed an Association and registered as a ‘not for profit’ Industrial and Provident Society with the aim of building and running a community owned village shop.

The proposed aims of the new shop were that it should be not for profit and put back any surplus into the community an outlet for local produce, food and crafts an opportunity for local employment and volunteers a social meeting place with a café and a village focal point offer IT facilities and training environmentally neutral.

By September 2001, a couple of possible sites had been identified, and the committee were looking into the details of funding, legal implications and health and safety. The District Council granted permission to build on part of the playing field of the old school, subject to an archaeological survey because of its closeness
to Offa’s Dyke.


Making it happen
Fundraising then began in earnest with a massive effort by the local community including dances, pudding clubs, open gardens, auctions, an Indian night, Gardener’s Question Time, slide shows etc and many people gave freely of their time and effort to make these events a success.

A bond launch was held on November 1, 2002. Bonds were purchased for £50 upwards and had a face value of 10% higher than the purchase price, being repayable at the end of the fifth year of trading - they raised £22,175.
About 120 floor tiles were “bought” at £10 each. Each floor block was engraved with the name of the donor.

There were also donations, and money from making a DVD: The Brockweir & Hewelsfield Story. All this evidence of strong local commitment significantly assisted grant applications.

Outside funding
Total grant funding amounted to over £321,000 with grants from DEFRA, Countryside Agency Vital Villages, Forest of Dean District Council, Shell Better Britain Campaign, Energy Savings Trust, Royal Society for Nature Conservation, Scottish Power Green Energy Trust, C&G Rural Initiative Fund and the Hewelsfield & Brockweir Parish Council.

Voluntary labour/contributions in kind
Jobs like stripping mortar from the school wall, shifting stones and raking soil for the grass on the playing field, spreading cement, planting the hedge, preparing timber and scraping the floorboards; painting; time spent on paperwork, planning, administration etc were all allowed as contributions in kind and accepted as match
funding. The target figure for CIK was £32,500. The total cost of the project turned out to be around £400,000


The build begins...
The first sod was cut in December 2002. Volunteers worked together to prepare the site and alongside builders to erect the building using enormous beams and huge 'A' frames of local green oak. The roof incorporated photovoltaic tiles to generate solar energy and a ground source pump created to provide underfloor heating.

The shop opened on Wednesday 7th April 2004 before being officially opening by HRH Prince of Wales on December 20, 2004.


Awards

  • Taste of the West Silver Award 2013 

  • BBC Food and Farming Award 2011 for Best Local Food Retailer

  • Taste of the West Bronze Award 2008

  • Forest of Dean District Council, Pride of the Forest Award 2008

  • Taste of the West Silver Award 2006