Store is becoming a real community hub

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A VILLAGE shop at Icklesham is playing an important role in bringing the community together.

Icklesham Village Stores marked its first year of being open in December and has now gained permanent permission to operate from Rother District Council.

Feature on the Icklesham store, Icklesham. 26/2/13'Owners Dexter Martin and Karen Clarke.

Feature on the Icklesham store, Icklesham. 26/2/13'Owners Dexter Martin and Karen Clarke.

The shop has been a welcome addition to the village for residents.

The village once had its own shop, newsagents and butchers but these have all closed in the past 20 years leaving villagers with the only choice of a long drive to either Hastings or Rye for their Groceries.

Icklesham Village Stores is run by Karen Clarke and Dexter Martin.

Karen said: “All the odds were against us when we started. We were on our own with no financial backing. We have built it up slowly and are getting there.

“We have had real support from the village and local community.”

The shop runs a community noticeboard and even a lost and found service, recently uniting a local man with his lost ferret.

The shop sells everything from drawing pins and bars of soap to logs, fresh fruit and veg and even hot drinks to take-away.

“We have been listening to what people want,” says Karen. “We try to stock as much local produce as we can. Cakes we sell are made by a local lady in the village.”

She added: “The lovely thing is that we get elderly people in the village coming in and children coming in to spend their pocket money and they talk to each other. It bridges the age gap.

“We have had collecting boxes supporting the Poppy Appeal and St Michael’s Hospice and what has been lovely is that youngsters will put their loose change in there.

“We had someone, who was not from the village, who stole some fruit and some local children went after him and got the fruit back.

“There are lots of elderly people in the village and their carers like shopping locally.

“We really feel appreciated now and get the feeling that if anything were to threaten the shop people in the village would get behind us, which is really nice.”