Shop's new community role

AFTER six months of hard work, and with the assistance of local businesses, the Sussex Rural Community Council and the parish council, the Laughton Village Shop opened its 'Back Room' on Saturday.

The whole village was invited to see the new facilities and join staff for a glass of wine or a hot drink.

The shop successfully applied for a community grant under the Vital Villages Scheme run by the Countryside Agency.

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Said Cynthia Moth, secretary of the Laughton Village Shop Association: 'Our project was to enhance and enlarge the role of the village shop by bringing the back room and garden into use for the community.

'We have installed computers to provide Internet access for all, a fax and an improved photocopier.

'Teaching sessions will be run to encourage and help residents to make full use of these IT facilities.

'We have also purchased a new chiller cabinet for fresh produce, a vending machine and a bake-off oven.

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'Local services and publications will be on display on the information boards and we are planning to run a toy and book exchange and to stage exhibitions of local arts and crafts.'

The Back Room will also provide a much needed meeting place for the village where people can relax with friends, read the Sussex Express, and enjoy a hot cuppa with fresh bakery.

Added Cynthia: 'As with all grants of this type, we have to raise 25 per cent of the amount spent on the project.

'We have already achieved some of this target but more is needed and we are hosting a talk by Helen Bentley who sailed round the world on January 11.'

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Duncan Mackay, Countryside Agency regional director, said: 'Smaller communities in rural areas are a vital part of the fabric of our countryside. Indeed, one in 10 people in England live in a village.

'But village communities in the 21st century need help to ensure they prosper and that people have access to essential services. Through our Vital Villages work we are helping communities like Laughton to address the problems they face.'

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