Two village projects were admired by a royal visitor last Tuesday when His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester visited Etchingham to see community-owned businesses.
His Highness was welcomed by County Lord Lieutenant Peter Field at Etchingham station.
He then visited the Bistro@theStation based in a Grade II listed building which was once the station master’s house.
The Bistro opened in May 2010 as the result of a major renovation project funded from a number of sources including Southeastern, Network Rail, the Railway Heritage Trust and via the Wealden and Rother Rural Partnership (The WARR Partnership,) from SEEDA (South East England Development Agency) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
In addition the directors of the Etchingham Community Interest Company and Parish Council contributed to the project. Money was also raised from the village where residents sponsored specific items such as specially commissioned lights, signs, a period fireplace, station clock and railway poster.
Next he visited the Etchingham Shop & Deli, opened in May 2012.
There has been a shop in Etchingham for more 150 years but the previous one was forced to close in 2011.
A village survey showed that 95 per cent of people said there should be a new shop so the CIC set about raising the funding and renovating the existing shop building. Funding was secured via Etchingham Parish Council, Wealden and Rother Rural Partnership (The WARR Partnership,) Rother District Council, the directors of the CIC and other local people. The new Shop & Deli was re-opened by Mary Varrall, Chairman of Etchingham Parish Council.
Colin Phillips, chairman of Etchingham CIC said: “CICs have been in existence for around eight years, however, there are still few compared to the 180,000 plus charities registered in the UK.
“This CIC is a bridge between the Parish Council, the people of the village and the need for commercially run enterprises.
“We are delighted to welcome The Duke of Gloucester and Peter Field to our village of only 280 homes. We have achieved a great deal in five years, helping to bring the community together and provide vital services.”