VILLAGERS in Islip are celebrating 15 years of booming business at their community shop.

The Church Lane enterprise was started by volunteers on October 14, 2000, and offers locally sourced produce, including meat, bread, free-range eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, pastries, cheeses and honey.

It was opened after the closure of other shops and a post office, leaving more than 600 people without a place to buy supplies locally.

Now residents say it is at the heart of their community, with extra cash raised given to village groups.

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Shop manager Maralynn Smith, 66, said: “It has really become the hub of the village.

“We sell tickets for events that are happening, people come to ask us for news and bus times, taxis and we even get quite a lot of lost property handed in.

“It has become a sort of information point, almost as much as a shop, and when the winter and the snow comes, everyone relies on us.”

Mrs Smith and her team also offer home deliveries to the village’s elderly, as well as ice-cream, shoe repairs and a dry-cleaning service.

Readers of the Oxford Mail and our sister paper The Oxford Times can also rest assured they are catered for.

Profits from the shop are given as donations to local organisations, including Islip Cricket Club and the village pre-school. This year donations will also go to the youth club run by St Nicholas Church, Islip Thursday Club for over-60s, the Noke Playing Field Trust and the Otmoor Archaeological and Historical Society.

This year, local children have also started volunteering during weekends.

The village is due to celebrate the shop’s anniversary today with a party, complete with a birthday cake and Champagne.

The shop, which forms part of the village hall, started out in a cloakroom at the hall, but has proved so popular it has had to be extended twice.

The shop, one of 18 community stores in Oxfordshire, was set up with help from yhe Plunkett Foundation.

James Alcock, of the Woodstock-based charity which helps communities set up co-operative enterprises in rural areas, said: “It’s fantastic to see Islip Village Shop continue to go from strength to strength and celebrate this landmark birthday.

“Community shops like Islip rely on the hard work and dedication of local people and it’s great to see their success being shared with other local projects.”