Shop hides away in a church

For the first time in 15 years the 400 residents of Beech Hill, Berkshire, have a local shop and it’s in an unusual venue – the church.

A loan from the Co-operative Loan Fund was used to fit bespoke wooden cabinets, made by a local carpenter, in St Mary’s church which hide the stock and equipment during services.

The project was the brainchild of local Sam Moore, who took her idea to the vicar, Beatrice Pearson. Says Sam: “I came up with the idea while reading a magazine on holiday: a community shop that would both serve a community need and help the church to survive. I took the idea to Beatrice and she was on board immediately.”

Sam’s inspiration was probably the award-winning shop-in-the-church at Yarpole in Herefordshire, which was also helped by the Co-operative Loan Fund.  Five of the 300 community-owned shops in the UK are located in churches.

TV presenter and former model Melinda Messenger, who lives locally, helped to attract extra publicity for the official opening on 16 February.

From left: Beatrice Pearson, Sam Moore, Melinda Messenger