photo: shareholders buy back the old police-station and court in Cardigan
Maybe 8 miles down the main road is Eglwswrw,
a cross roads of a few houses with a rural hinterland. It had a shop until a few years ago, and still has a garage store within a mile.
A meeting this summer to start a real community
shop was packed to the gunnals. The dream is to buy the focal building of the village, listed old inn facing the road, central and iconic. The costs soar above the potential income to justify it, but the steering group persist on the road, raising funds in
small steps at sociable events sustained by the impossible peak's allure.
The seeds blowing over windswept countryside have been caught in the folds where hamlets cluster, once supporting
their mills, farms, shops, schools and churches.
For 70 years the Bwddin on the cross-roads was the shop and post-office, signalling that this was a village, you had arrived.
It outlasted the school, the garage and petrol pump, a mill, textile factory, a railway and several other shops. It was all that was left of the former thriving economy of the valley. Then it closed five years ago. In October the determined residents managed
to negotiate a stay of execution from the bank, they have six months to run it as a weekly shop and raise the funds to buy it.
They take up the tale:
"I have to say it is going increasingly well" Lindsey Roberts told me "We open Saturday, 10 to 4. The first five weeks we had 30 plus people, then the number rose to 40 plus and last week we had 59 involved. Sometimes I have to
shoo them out when we close.
We really don't have much in here at all, just what people bake or grow or sew. Still people come in and say Wow! and mean it. We had quite a heartfelt complaint
when the bread kept running out. We have the kettle always ready to offer a cuppa and a shelf of books for people to borrow and add to. We have a pretty strong rota now, and what is nice is the variety of people who are on it, we even have a previous owner
of the shop, a great asset.
We are more than a shop, we have one older man who cycles in at the same time for his loaf and newspaper. If we don't see him we worry. Another man cares for his
wife with dementia, one of us sits with her in the car while he comes in for a cuppa and chat. We get comments like 'Now I have somewhere to walk to again'.
There is a pattern to the day,
the traditional shoppers, born or brought up in the Welsh community come in almost as soon as we are open, the later comers to the village roll in at later hours, the teenagers often make it just before we shut! And its quite effortless, it is sort of running
itself. We have ten producers offering stock.
The really hard work was to persuade the bank to give us stay of execution. I began to feel like family with the bank, they saw so much of me.
We are quietly optimistic, but there is a lot of work ahead now we know the deadline to raise the money in six months."
Villages often have old divisions and contrasting sectors, from newcomers
with strange diets who do yoga for exercise to retired professionals who pick up a phone when they want a curtain sewn or the lawn mown, to hard muscled farming families who do everything for themselves, and eat all the things the dieters don't. A village
shop brings them together, both sides of the counter, and a lot more than money is exchanged.
With no shop, no
reason to mingle, divisions can harden, community relationships freeze over. The rhythm of the regularly open shop, stocked with what the village can produce as much as buy in, thaws the social arteries. The pulse and pattern of village life is coming back
as life returns to its heart.
The constitution and bank account are nearly ready and cheques are beginning to arrive on the wind of the news. When you are going the right way the path appears,
doors open as you approach,.. and not just in supermarkets!
Buy into our future:
Community shares bring in interest, they
can be sold but do not change in value. If you would like to express interest in buying shares in these enterprises, contact the following:
Glandwr Village shop: email@example.com
Eglwswrw Village shop: firstname.lastname@example.org adrian 07787 182732 and 01239 891394
The Cellar Bar, Cardigan: Peter Kinsey 01239614903 CB500X500@hotmail.com
The Old police station and Pwllhai, Cardigan: Shan Williams 01239 email@example.com www.4cg.org.uk
Hermon community shop and hostel: Cris Tomos 01239 821968 firstname.lastname@example.org canolfanhermon.org.uk