Last month’s article ended with the promise that there would be “more exciting news next month”. Well, the time has come and we are now able to celebrate winning the enormously prestigious…

Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The announcement was made on the day of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which made it even more special. To put this achievement into perspective, the population of West Sussex numbers approximately 700,000 yet only four organisations have been awarded QAVS this year.

The village will host a Ceremony in the Autumn, when the Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, Lady Emma Barnard, will present the award to Steve Smith, who chaired the committee through the rigorous application. There are however many others whose vision, sheer hard work and determination ensured the survival and ultimate success of the shop from the day the original Post Office closed in 2017. It was the inspirational Peter Goldsworthy who set up the famous meeting in the Village Hall when villagers’ interest in saving the shop was tested. Many of you will have been present and soon afterwards become “shareholders”, not quite in the traditional sense but more as members of the group that was to become the “Findon Village Collective”.  Peter became our first Chairman; you have probably seen the plaque bearing testament to his achievement outside the shop. With him were Jan Vandevelde and Helen Woods, appointed Company Secretary and Treasurer respectively, and Jo O’Dell, whose experience in the Post Office proved so useful.

Once the property purchase had been finalised, the delightful and much missed Bob Eastabrook calmly led a team of volunteers who redecorated and refitted the premises with almost as much expertise as enthusiasm, Indeed, over 60 wonderful volunteers have given up their time to serve customers, clean the shop, take deliveries, restock shelves, collect orders and contribute to the Management Committee. Most are still very much involved and keen to encourage others to join. Others whose efforts have been invaluable, whether “front of house” or behind the scenes, include phenomenal fount of all knowledge, encouragement and support, Margaret Bamford, who developed the role of Volunteer Coordinator so brilliantly, and Marketing guru and buyer Becky Fagan. It’s thanks to Becky that the shop always looks so stylish as well as appropriately stocked. The gleaming and hygienic shop has been kept sparkling by Ann Hughes and her team including Sue Line and Health and Safety expert, Anne Colville. This is a crucial job and deserves our sincerest appreciation. Annie Whitchurch took responsibility for training new volunteers and has since become Vice Chair of the Management Committee, working alongside Richard Pratt who keeps us all on track and communicates with shareholders so brilliantly as Company Secretary, and Alan Holmes, who carries out his daunting duties as Treasurer with tremendous professionalism and care.

I know this is beginning to sound like a roll call, but Patrick Colville, our energetic and highly skilled new Chairman is keen that as many volunteers as possible should be mentioned by name. For that reason we will move on to Part 2 next month and ensure that all our amazing volunteers, as well as  all the fantastic Post Office staff, receive the recognition they deserve.

Until then, we wish the lovely Sue Martin well and hope to see her back in the shop very soon and hopefully in time for our Summer Party on 24th July.

Finally, a brief reminder to approach any of the shop staff in person or by email if you have  any requests for us to stock particular items. We are always happy to source new products where possible.

Details of the QAVS Award Ceremony will of course be published as soon as they are known.

Annie Whitchurch