Well. I’ve just popped down to Findon Village Store, and what a feast greeted my eyes, in every sense of the word!  In addition to the usual cards, wrapping paper and gift boxes, jingle bells shakers, mince pies and Christmas cake bites, Helen (our Deputy manager) and her niece have created a display to make your taste buds salivate, it’s so attractive, colourful and appetising.  For children, (and the young at heart), there’s advent calendars, candy canes, sugar mice, and all manner of festive confectionery.  If you’re feeling adventurous, a baking kit to make chocolate orange panettone might tick the box, or, if you want to spoil someone special (or even maybe yourself), there are gift-wrapped panettones, filled with delights such as lemon or pistachio cream, and tins of Grandma Wild’s biscuits.  To help such delicacies go down smoothly, how about a bottle of Winter Secco, a spicy sparkling wine? How can you possibly resist!

Maggie Martin has produced two beautiful Christmas cards from her watercolour paintings: one features the shop’s plant cart and is competitively priced at £1.59, whilst all proceeds from the other, ‘Christmas Blessings’ (priced at £1.50), will go to St John’s church.

Christmas is a time to reflect and celebrate those we hold dear, and is a good opportunity to thank the staff, volunteers, Management Committee, buyers, customers, and anyone else who is involved in some capacity.  Without so much active community support, the store would not be able to operate, and certainly not to the high level to which we all aspire.  Newest volunteer, Steve Flitton, definitely deserves a mention – thank you.

We have just had our AGM, generously hosted by Geoffrey and Etta Wyatt, at Cissbury Barns.  It is a beautiful, warm, and welcoming venue – thank you so very much.  The Management Committee works hard to ensure that the Store operates on a sure financial footing to ensure long-term sustainability, and we voted to update our ‘Model Rules for Community Ownership’ to ensure that we are adhering to best practice and maintaining a high professional standard.  Profits are returned to the village.  This Christmas, we will be giving hampers to those who are in need, and making a donation towards the Christmas lights in the village, as well as contributing to St John’s School’s Swimming Pool Repair Fund.

Very soon, the outside of the shop will be looking as festive as the inside, with the Grand Arrival of the Village Store Christmas tree (well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration).  I can’t wait!  And, once again, we must thank the post office topper fairies who have continued to bring cheer and inspiration with their Hallowe’en and Armistice displays.  They’re a real draw to Findon Village, let alone the shop (or at least they should be).

‘Turning Tides’ is a local charity that works with the homeless, and there will be a basket for donations of non-perishable food from Friday 16th – Tuesday 20th December at the shop.  This year, the need is greater than ever, while at the same time donations are fewer.  It is difficult for everyone in the current climate, but, please, if you possibly can, consider giving a tin or two.

Now, having whet your appetite, I’m sure you are all on the edge of your seats wanting to know when the shop is going to be open during the Christmas and New Year breaks.  So, now’s the moment: the all-important opening hours are as follows:

Christmas Eve: 7am-4pm

Christmas Day: Closed

Boxing Day: 7am-12 noon

Tuesday 27th December: 7am-12 noon

Year’s Eve: 7am-4pm

New Year’s Day: 7am-12.30pm

And finally, all that remains is for me to wish you all a very happy Christmas, and to remind you that if you need anything over the festive season, you can rely on your community shop to both lift your spirits and fill your bellies!

Jean Burden