Children delighted in Santa bringing presents to Findon on yesterday evening, but the best gift was one the villagers bought for themselves.
Findon’s village store and post office closed without warning in May, leaving residents without a convenience store closer than Findon Valley.
But after a hugely successful fundraising campaign, villagers roared with triumph as they won the shop at auction in June, and cheered on Sunday as its grand reopening.
Jo O’Dell, part of the new committee that runs the store, addressed the crowds at the ribbon-cutting: “I am welcoming you with great pleasure to celebrate the opening of our village store.
“Without warning the village lost a vital faciity.
“Findon however is no ordinary village. It did not take long to decide to launch a fundraising project to buy back our shop.
“As someone who had a stake in the successful running of the shop in the past it was clear that if we could find the money we could make a go of it.
“We were able to buy oursleves a shop, post office and flat.
“This is a story of a community coming together to save a village asset.”
Jo also thanked parish councillor Peter Goldsworthy, who was instrumental in the campaign.
She said: “Without his leadership and determination we would not be here today.”
Dozens of villagers turned up to see the grand reopening and enjoyed a drink and a nibble inside the store.
Julian Harwood, 65. was born and bred in Findon and has been connected with the store for nearly 50 years.
He said: “It’s absolutely brilliant, it’s fantastic.
“I have been here all these years, it’s like a second home to me.”
Julian started working in the store in 1967, and his parents bought it in 1969.
When it was sold in 1998 the new owners asked him if he wanted to stay on part time, which he was keen to do.
Once the store was open the village turned its attention to the annual lighting of the Christmas tree and lovely singing from Findon’s St John Baptist Primary School pupils.
Santa was on hand to light the tree and hand out presents to gleeful children while adults enjoyed a mulled wine and a chat.
The store and post office will be open between 6am and 7pm Monday to Friday and 6am to 12pm on Saturdays.
See this week’s Herald for more pictures.