FOR more than three years school children had to forgo the daily trip to the village shop for sweets.

But that is about to change because Marcham Village shop will reopen next month as a community operation.

Ten years ago, there were three shops in the village and a pub, but the last shop closed three years ago and the pub is up for sale.

In the meantime, locals operate a community transport scheme to take elderly neighbours so they can do their shopping in Abingdon.

But after a year of planning, a loan, a grant and lots of fundraising, villagers are breathing new life into their community.

The shop, in North Street, is being refurbished and to help villagers get off to a flying start the landlord has agreed a year’s free rent.

Company secretary of the Marcham Village Shop board Mike Hudson said: “We don’t expect to make a huge profit and if we did make a profit it will either go to something we need in the shop or to the village to try and help other projects.

“As long as we break even and keep rolling that’s what’s important.

“We have got a huge number of villagers who have volunteered to help run the shop. We have 30 to 40 willing to do that, and there will be three part time paid staff.

“We understand we can’t compete with the big boys. We are not expecting people to do their weekly shop there, that’s why we are going to stock nice local stuff.”

The group secured a £10,000 loan from the Co-operative Loan Fund, and a grant of £10,000 from the West Oxfordshire-based Plunkett Foundation. Villagers raised £15,000 themselves from donations and selling shares.

The shop, which will open at 7.30am until 6pm, will sell locally sourced food including fruit, vegetables, milk and wine, and there will be a small cafe.

Board member Christine Ricketts said: “Marcham has not had a shop in over three years, which we all miss as it is difficult to reach our nearest supermarket.

“Everyone is very excited for the opening next month.

“Without the funding we have received, the whole process would have taken much longer, and we would not have been able to fit the shop to the good standard we can now.”

Ian Rothwell, of The Co-operative Loan Fund, said: “Marcham is a big village with an immense amount of community spirit.

“The shop is well located right in the middle of the village and should do incredibly well.”