IDEN’S village store and post office has bounced back after being badly damaged in a ram raid.
The raid, last January, caused thousands of pounds of structural damage to the Grade II listed store which dates to the 1780’s.
Thieves escaped with £5,000 of cigarettes but were later arrested in Kent.
Now the shop has risen from the ashes with a complete refurbishment and a wider selection of stock.
Iden Stores is a local success story. A few years ago it was saved from closure after being bought and kept open by a consortium led by local organic farmer Christopher Strangeways.
Following the ram raid, Geoff Kiddle, who runs the shop with wife Elizabeth, praised villagers for their support and said: “We keep going no matter what.”
The couple were asleep upstairs at the time and Geoff said: “The whole building literally shook. Police were on the scene within minutes.”
This week Geoff said: “When we took over the store in 20011 it was feeling every day of it 190 year old history as a shop.
“What has been done in the past two and a half years is amazing.
“With tremendous support from the village and landlords Iden Village Stores Association and Christopher Strangeways we managed to raise almost £30,000 which was matched pound for pound by DEFRA with money from the EEC.
Now the completely refurbished store carries more than 1.700 lines and focuses on locally sourced quality produce.
“We now have two deliveries of bread a day from the award winning Rye Bakery and the renowned Lighthoue Bakery.
“Other specialist suppliers include the award winning Weald Smokery, Cooden Wine Cellars and Kent based Simply Ice Cream which people have claimed is some of the best ice cream in the country.
“We also provide a weekly dry cleaning and laundry service as well as the services of the Post Office and the National Lottery.
“The shop is now thriving and looks to be set for another 190 years.”