HUNDREDS of residents turned out to see a new community shop’s grand opening.

Purleigh Community Shop opens its doors this month and ended the village’s nine-month stint without a store.

The shop, in Church Hill, opens every day from 8am to 6pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with late-night opening until 8pm on Thursdays.

It closes at 1pm on Saturdays and 11am on Sundays.

The shop stocks local produce including fresh bread, eggs, honey, wine, beer, chocolates, soap, meat and dairy products.

The ribbon was cut by executive director of the Plunkett Foundation James Alcock.

The foundation advises on community enterprises nationwide and helped with the project.

Mr Alcock said: “Community shops are a great leveller – they bring people together of all ages, backgrounds, interests, and give them a purpose to interact.

“This can benefit new residents who want to meet their neighbours, young parents who feel isolated at home, teenagers seeking work and life experience, the retired seeking opportunities to remain active, and those who live alone or are carers and have no other way of meeting people.

“Put simply, community shops reduce social isolation and loneliness.”

He congratulated the team on getting the shop up and running in such a short space of time and the community, which has so far invested more than £25,000 buying shares in the shop.

More than 30 people volunteer in the shop.

Shop management committee chairman Tony Ashton said: “Today marks the culmination of many months of hard work by the committee and others.

“We had a dream – to make the Purleigh Shop great again – and this is just the start.

“We look forward to welcoming our customers, hearing from them what they want from the shop, and serving them as well as we possibly can.

“The shop belongs to the community and it is there for their use and benefit.”