Triumph for shop in Countryside awards

13/2/13- Countryside Alliance Award for Etchingham Village Store.  Neil and Sian Cotterill with Colin Phillips, Chairman of the CIC
13/2/13- Countryside Alliance Award for Etchingham Village Store. Neil and Sian Cotterill with Colin Phillips, Chairman of the CIC

THE community-owned Etchingham Shop & Deli has won the Start-Up category in the 2012 Countryside Alliance Awards.

The new shop, which opened at the end of May 2012, impressed the judges with its commitment to the community and rural economy.

The Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed ‘The Rural Oscars’ are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural life, produce and communities.

Supporters of the Etchingham Shop & Deli submitted more than 27 written nominations and many more were sent online.

The shop is the result of many months of planning, negotiating, building and painting by volunteers from the Etchingham Community Interest Company (CIC), supported by local people. After consulting villagers, Etchingham Parish Council stepped in to buy the building when the previous shop closed. The CIC competed against other interested parties in a bid to run the shop.

Colin Phillips, chairman of the CIC said: “To retain valuable village assets it is vital that communities work together to provide services required today. One of the first things the CIC did was survey the village as to what it wanted from a village shop. Neil and Sian Cotterill who run the Shop & Deli continue to listen to their customers and have done an outstanding job in the last eight months.”

The Etchingham Shop & Deli stocks organic produce, has a fresh fish counter on Friday and Saturday and introduced Take out Thursdays, when typically 40 freshly cooked meals are sold ranging from fish pie to chicken carbonara.

Neil Cotterill is a trained chef and prepares fresh snacks, soups and spreads. His sausage rolls are famous in the area and locally made cakes and bread are just as popular.

The shop also sells wine and alcohol, firewood, newspapers, has a kiddies corner with sweets and small toys and a dry cleaning service, working in collaboration with a local dry cleaning business.

Support of the rural economy was qualifying criteria for the award and the Shop & Deli works with a number of local suppliers including, Bodiam’s Lighthouse Bakery, Speldhurst Sausages, Traditional Cheese Dairy in Stonegate and Bodiam Ice Cream.

Fresh fruit and vegetables fly off the shelves and anything that is left Neil uses to cook with.

Colin Phillips said: “This is the second CIC project to win a prestigious award. The community run Bistro at Etchingham Station won three awards in its first 12 months of trading and continues to go from strength to strength. Congratulations to everyone involved in both projects.” The Etchingham Shop & Deli will now go forward to the national final. The winners will be announced at reception at the House of Lords on March 13.