The Candover Valley Store, a community-run shop and post office in Preston Candover, celebrates its second birthday this week.

The store, which became a lifeline for the villages it serves during the Covid-crisis lockdowns of the last year, is now an established social hub and provides paid jobs for five local people. In addition, there is a bank of paid youth workers aged between 16 and 19, who take shifts mainly at weekends or during holidays. In rural communities where work can be scarce and transport is often problematic, these jobs offer young people important opportunities. Some of the young volunteers at the store do so as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, giving them invaluable experience of work, its responsibilities and of face-to-face interactions with people of varied ages and backgrounds.

They all work alongside a dedicated band of unpaid volunteers who also play a vital role in keeping the store running. The combined Candover Valley Store team have clocked up more than 100,000 transactions since the shop was officially opened by Lord Sainsbury in June 2019.

CVCS committee chair, Jane Laws said: “We are particularly proud of our record in providing paid employment for local people, as that was one of the main aims in our original business plan. During the last very difficult year, the store has become a true community focus, with people not only staying local to shop for their groceries and post their parcels, but as a place where there is always a friendly smile and a chat on offer.” She added: “We sincerely thank every single one of our customers, managers and volunteers for their continued support and look forward to welcoming new visitors to the store as we enter our third year of trading.”

For its small size, the Candover Valley Store offers a surprisingly wide choice of groceries, chilled and frozen food, fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers, newspapers, wine, beer, cider and an attractive range of local gifts and cards. The post office, with its range of mail, parcel and other services and easy access, makes a stop at the store even more convenient. An attractive, decked area at the rear of the shop, with its lovely rural view, is the perfect spot for enjoying a cup of locally roasted coffee with a slice of cake. We hope you will visit soon!