A FOUNDATION which helps safeguard the countryside by providing support and cash to community shops has been given £30,000.

The Plunkett Foundation, which is based in Woodstock, has helped create and save shops across Oxfordshire and further afield.

It received the cash from the Prince’s Countryside Fund, which is the brainchild of The Prince of Wales and aims to safeguard rural communities.

The foundation has helped the majority of the 271 community-owned shops in the UK and it is hoped the grant will directly fund a further 10 nationwide.

The £30,000 cash will also enable at least 40 communities which are currently without a shop to visit successful examples of community shops for inspiration.

Head of communications at Plunkett, Mike Perry, said: “Village shops are currently closing at a rate of around 400 per year, but community ownership saves around five per cent of all these closures.

“It is a viable and sustainable business model. Of the 282 shops to have opened across the UK, only 11 have ever closed, giving them a survival rate of 96 per cent.

“This funding is hugely important as it will allow Plunkett to extend our support to the growing number of communities looking to take over and run their local shop.”

Tackley Village Shop director Barbara Vaughan said: “The foundation advised and supported us in the development of the business plans.

“They were the first people we turned to and they helped – and are still helping – us significantly.

“They are a very supportive, flexible and valuable asset to us.”

The £30,000 cash injection was part of a £422,000 pot which the Prince’s Countryside Fund has dished out to 15 rural projects.

For more information about The Plunkett Foundation, call 01993 810730 or visit plunkett.co.uk