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Community shop and café celebrates its first year in village near Grantham

Staff and volunteers at a community shop which opened as the pandemic took hold have celebrated their first year of trading.

The Bythams Community Shop and Café in Castle Bytham opened on June 1 last year and has since helped people shop locally at a time when it has been most important, and even delivered goods to those self-isolating.

Peter Hinton, chairman of the community shop project at the time, said: “We were conscious that there were a large number of vulnerable people in the villages that the shop was designed to serve, so we were determined to get our safe space open to supply their needs and save them from putting themselves at risk by travelling far afield.”

Staff and volunteers celebrate a year of trading. Photo: Alan Harvey (47810994)
Staff and volunteers celebrate a year of trading. Photo: Alan Harvey (47810994)

Since opening, the shop has put on covid-secure events and although the café could not open during the lockdown, it served takeaway snacks, breakfasts and lunches. Last month it opened for indoor dining.

As well as keeping people fed and watered, services such as a dry cleaning collection and printing and photocopying are provided, and the shop car park is visited by a cycle repair outfit.

Shop manager Sam Bone said: “It has been hard work, but with all the fantastic support I’ve had from my co-staffer Amanda Caulton, the volunteers and customers, we have got the shop to where it is today. I’m particularly proud of the covid-safe events we were able to hold for village children on Bonfire Night and Easter. When things have been so gloomy for them over the past year, we’re glad we have been able to give them a little fun.”

Cathy Lawson, the shop committee chairman, said: “It has been a tough year, but the staff, volunteers and committee members have worked tirelessly to make the shop a success.

“We’re proud of the fact that we regularly and consistently receive very positive feedback from our customers and the cyclists who stop for refuelling have been very vocal in their praise.

“The shop has become an integral part of the Bythams area community, a support to local businesses and a boon to passing trade.

“We’re going from strength to strength.”

The Bythams Community Shop is a non-profit business owned by the community and any profits after costs are given to community projects.

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