After Barham’s village shop and post office closed its doors in 2008, local residents worried about the impact that it would have on this tiny, picturesque community. However, thanks to the hard work of volunteers, and a welcome donations from the National Lottery fund and others the Barham shop is well and truly back for good.
Michael Pearson, a retired lawyer living in Barham and one of the driving forces charged with putting Barham Village Store on the map, is in no doubt as to the reason for the venture’s success:
“We have over 40 volunteers in the shop itself, plus successive hard working committee members. It’s their tireless work and dedication that have helped us to reinstate the shop and post office, and it’s their spirit that will keep us moving forward.”
The fact that local people are running this local shop really points to the heart of the scheme: community. The community in Barham is a particularly strong one and really conjures up a feeling of togetherness that is so often lost in a modern Britain full of online communication and internet shopping.
Standing in the shop you immediately notice a sense of comradery; people in this village know their neighbours and enjoy living in the area. When it comes to the shop itself there’s a great sense of loyalty and this is apparent not only in its success (sales have more than quadrupled since the move from the old facility) but in the attitude of the staff and customers. People say hello, they stop for a chat, and they even sit down for coffee together thanks to the coffee machine and discreet seating installed for just such a purpose.
Situated right next to the refurbished Village Hall, the shop has become a focal point for the village, even hosting an annual quiz night and food and drink events as a further effort towards strengthening the local community.
The fact that the shop has taken hold of the heart of this little corner of Kentish heaven is not surprising when you consider how much work has gone into it. The interior is clean, fresh and bright, the shelves are stacked high with local produce and the post office provides a much needed and much used service for local residents.
This is a place that encapsulates the spirit of the English country idyll and one that deserves to be recognised as a very special and beloved institution