A village charity shop reopened to the public last Thursday with the help of business tycoon David Gold.
Hurst Community Charity Shop in Hurstpierpoint closed its doors to the public in December 2016, to lend its premises to Co-op, after a fire broke out in the village.
Co-op was forced to close in the High Street due to the blaze.
The charity shop let the retailer borrow their shop so residents could still have a convenience shop to go to.
Michael Barnes, 82, chairman of the trust committee, said: “It means everything to be open again, to get back to normal, and the joy of all getting together at the grand opening on Thursday and meeting the public was great. We had an excellent turnout – about 40 people came along.
“There wouldn’t have been a food shop so we felt we were doing something on behalf of the community when we lent our shop to Co-op. They paid for our rent and loss of earnings and decorated the shop, so we have gained a lot.”
Manager Wendy Box, 67, said it was ‘fantastic’ to be open again. “It it is what we have been waiting for and it is what the village has been waiting for,” she said.
“We are here for the community and we like to feel that we are somewhere people can come in to and have chat. Our volunteers have been so loyal to us. I don’t believe we lost any during the closure. Everybody has mucked in and has done something to help.”
The charity shop has 44 volunteers. One of them is Lesley Manning, fiancée of David Gold, who has lived in the village for 30 years. “I love it, it is great fun and is a great way of meeting people in the village,” she told the Middy.
David Gold, who is joint chairman of West Ham United and owns Gold Group International (GGI), the parent company of retailer Ann Summers, officially opened the shop on Thursday. “I am a great supporter of local community causes and I try to support the shop in any way I can,” he told the Middy.
“This is a charity shop that supports the community, the money goes to the church and back into the community.”