A community organisation has raised more than £20,000 in an effort to save an “essential” shop from closing.

The Weston Pantry Shop and Post Office in Weston on the Green may come under the ownership of Weston SOS Limited, if the community benefit society can raise a minimum of “£105,000” to purchase the freehold.

thisisoxfordshire: 28 Weston on the Green people (including members of the committee, shop staff, chair of the parish

The initiative started after a village meeting where the prospect of losing the shop was raised, following the owner’s decision to step down.

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Chair of Weston SOS Limited Sam Sharp said: “The reason I want to save the shop is because there are people in the village who really rely on it.

“The older people here get their newspapers and groceries from the store, and we have lots of vulnerable residents who don’t drive.

“There’s very limited public transport too, so if we lose the shop people will lose their independence.

“The shop’s also a focal point of the village. It’s where people bump into each other. There’s a real community care element within the shop too.

“If an older or more vulnerable person hasn’t been in for a while to buy their newspaper, the shop staff will take one to the customer’s home and check in on them.”

The project offers the public an opportunity to support the store with a share purchase option, or a donation option.

Mr Sharp said as of Friday (October 3) the community organisation had raised £22,000, and added that he’d had another application for £5,000 worth of shares, as well as emails offering an accrued amount of £30,000.

The software manager, who moved to Weston on the Green in November last year, said: “It’s an absolutely amazing start to our campaign.

“I can’t thank the community enough for their involvement, it really shows there’s a desire to keep the shop open.”

Gemma Coton, district councillor for Launton and Otmoor, which includes Weston on the Green, said: “I fully support the community approach. It would be good for the villagers to keep the store open if they can.”

When asked if she would support this community ownership approach at other venues in the village, Ms Coton said: “I think it depends on what the villagers want. My approach has always been to listen to the people and go with what they want.

“In the past there was a question raised about community ownership of a pub, which had closed down, and I supported that.”

Mr Sharp said if the campaign is successful and the store comes into community ownership, the idea would be to keep the staff who currently work there.

A management committee comprising of members and investors would then be set up, which would deal with the governance and running of the shop.

Those who want to donate or purchase shares in the shop can do so here: Weston Pantry 'Save Our Shop' (and Post Office) - a Food and Drink crowdfunding project in Bicester by Sam Sharp (crowdfunder.co.uk)


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1