Much-loved Funtington changes hands

After 15 years a much-loved village shop in Funtington has changed hands after it very nearly went out of business.

The Country Fare, on the B2146, was in danger of closing during the recession and has been on the market for the last three-and-a-half years.

But a friend of long time owner Guy Vinall, has stepped in to take it over.

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Philip Winter, 61, thought he would never work again after a serious car crash in Tangmere four years ago, but he is starting a new chapter in his life and in the life of the shop with the help of his family.

He was left with serious leg and shoulder injuries after the accident and was immediately off work.

He said: “It was just awful, it completely ruined my life. I lived for work, not worked to live.

“I had a really good exciting life, and it came to an end.

“It’s going to be hard work for me, I’m going to be up there for five every morning.”

It is a shop he has known for a long time having helped deliver the papers from there for eight years.

He is going to run it with the help of his son Michael Winter, and daughter Tracey Bulbeck.

It came about after Mrs Bulbeck was made redundant and Mr Winter jokingly said they could take over the shop, the rest as they say is history.

He is hoping to get the cash machine back to working order, and get the Post Office and Lottery machine back on site.

Pending being permission by Chichester District Council he hopes to offer hot cooked food.

“It’s the service I want to give customers, not to make money out of people,” he said.

“It was going to go at the end of this month, but now it’s going from strength to strength.

“It’s going to give me something to do.”

It was somewhat a baptism of fire for Mr Winter as on his first day in charge last Wednesday, access to the shop was cut off by fire engines, ambulances and police cars who were dealing with a car that had crashed into a house next to the car park.

“What a first day we had, it is really flying now,” he said. “We have had a very warm welcome.”

Mr Vinall had run the shop for the past 15 years, but working seven days a week became one of a number of reasons he wanted to give it up.

“It needed fresh people to come in really,” he said.

“They have altered a few things I should have done already.

“It’s very sad, people say you have got to keep it going.

“I’m completely confident in them, they are local people, everybody knows them, they have got local knowledge.

“The villagers are trying to support them. I wouldn’t have sold it to them if I didn’t think they could make it work.”