Back in the middle of March when preparing this article, current affairs were certainly making the prospect of a visit to our bright and cheerful shop, with our bright and cheerful staff and volunteers more uplifting than ever. If you feel in need of a chat and some positivity, please don’t wait until you run out of milk! Do remember, though, that we are still able and willing to deliver if you can’t get to us.

We have to say how much we appreciate our amazing team of volunteers. You can find them behind the counter, organising stock in the shed or the cold store, replenishing the shelves in the shop, out to collect or deliver orders, caring for the plants, cleaning the shop to ensure everyone’s welfare or working from home on the myriad tasks that make the business tick. Maggie Martin, volunteer and talented botanical artist, even contributed some of her beautiful sunflower cards for sale in aid of Ukraine. Thank you, Maggie, your cards proved incredibly popular and raised desperately needed funds. All our volunteers are in fact so good that we are currently organising a summer party to thank them for all their hard work. If that sounds like fun, please enquire in store or contact either Margaret (01903 873737) or Annie (07946 748814) for information about joining the team (and getting an invite to the party!).

One person who sadly is stepping down from the team in a few weeks’ time is our Chairman, Steve Smith. Steve has given more than three years of his life to ensuring that our shop is not only viable but also extremely successful and we owe him a great deal of respect together with a huge vote of thanks. I will keep you informed through this article of how we will be recognising his outstanding contribution and wishing him the very best as he moves on to tackle the challenges of the Village Pre-School.

With financial pressures seemingly everywhere, we are always sorry when our prices go up and are anxious to reassure you that we do everything we can to absorb increases as far as possible. Many of our deli items, cakes, biscuits, household and pharmacy lines compare extremely favourably with supermarkets. Our greetings cards represent excellent value; wines and spirits are always competitively priced and so is our range of soft drinks, snacks and seasonal goods. The choice is truly remarkable! On top of that, we have the great convenience of Post Office banking; the expertise of our post office staff has helped many a customer and is widely recognised. So, in short, please do support our local community shop by spreading the good news with friends and neighbours (and perhaps saving some expensive fuel) by visiting us a little more often. At this difficult time, we need and appreciate your custom more than ever.

And so to Easter. The world needs the renewed hope that the Easter story brings more than ever this year, and we have some beautiful cards in store to express that. Children and adults alike will be glad to know that we also have a full range of Easter Eggs, our very popular hot cross buns, biscuits and delightful gifts and decorations. With a weather eye on the sky, we are bringing back our seasonal ice cream freezer too, which you will find outside next to our plants. I think you will agree that our flower cart has never looked prettier, thanks to the skill and artistry of Becky, our buyer.

We wish all readers a very blessed and happy Easter. May the Easter Bunny bring you joy and lots of chocolate!

Annie Whitchurch