Plunkett award day report

IT’S OFFICIAL!    FECKENHAM SHOP VOLUNTEERS BEST IN THE COUNTRY!

It was a rare day.  For once the sun was shining and the sky was clear blue as we headed for Bicester Golf and Country Club – the venue for the Plunkett Foundation event.   Was it a good omen?  We didn’t dare to hope!

We arrived mid-morning and the Plunkett Foundation Community Enterprise Networking Event was already getting under way.  Immediately we felt the buzz of enthusiasm around us and with our coffee we chatted to people from all over the country and from many other community ventures.  It quickly became clear that the community shop model is thriving – indeed blossoming – in many shapes and forms, and there are now well over 300 community businesses from deepest Cornwall to the north ofScotland.  There are community shops in premises ranging from tiny cottages, pub car parks, churches and even a converted public toilet!  With staffing models ranging from a few paid staff to our totally volunteer-run venture we realised that Feckenham shop is almost unique.

Workshop sessions during the morning and afternoon covered a range of topics designed to support community ventures with day-to-day running and the many challenges that brings.  People happily shared their wealth of experience as successful initiatives were discussed  – everyone has so much to bring.  Positive ‘vibes’ were in the air as people told their own stories.

After the Annual General Meeting …… came the really nail-biting stage.  The truth is that, whatever your hopes and expectations, the anticipation is exciting and you are rooting for your own.  We listened patiently to the sponsors’ introductions, the names on the shortlists and the results in each of the 6 categories, but announcement of the finalists in the ‘Rewarding Volunteers’  category was, for us, the highlight!  We had everything crossed and hoped for everyone in Feckenham that we would hear our name read out.  Then, in a moment, we heard   ...  and the winners are ‘Feckenham Community Shop.’  Were we dreaming?

Rosemary was invited to accept the Award Certificate and a cheque for £500 on behalf of the shop and then photos were taken.  We were honoured and thrilled.  So, it seems, that sun and blue sky had been an omen, after all.

Forget the excitement of the BAAFTAs, we loved our day at the ‘PLUNKETTs’ and felt very honoured to represent every single volunteer at Feckenham Community Shop.  The conversations we had during the day and each piece of advice we received served to reinforce the amazing achievement that is Feckenham Village Shop.

Celebrate everyone!

Rosemary, Tony and Pat