WHEN all the shops in their village shut, householders in Islip knew something had to be done.

They set up a volunteer run shop in the heart of their community, near Kidlington, and 10 years later it is still going strong.

The Village Shop opened on October 14, 2000, with a few basic provisions.

And following an expansion, business is booming.

Villagers now have the pick of locally sourced produce, including meat, bread, free range eggs and honey.

The store even offers a shoe repair and dry cleaning service – and, of course, sells the Oxford Mail.

Volunteers sprang into action when the village – which once boasted no fewer than six shops, including a Post Office – lost its last outlet. Chris and Janet Busby, owners of the long running The Stores, called it a day after more than four decades, leaving the 600-strong community with no shop.

But, determined to keep village life flourishing, Henrietta Leyser assembled a group of people to set up the store.

Now Maralynn Smith Smith runs the team and manages home deliveries to the village’s elderly.

She said: “My granddad used to have a village shop which he built himself out of wood.

“My mother then took over the running of it, so I think it’s in my blood.”

She added: “There are a lot of elderly people who can’t get out of the village who I know rely on the shop.

“I feel so proud that we can provide the village with what it needs.

“If people want to know anything, or want anything done, they come to the shop.”

Volunteer Emily Cohen, who baked the store’s birthday cake, said: “Some villagers couldn’t bear the thought of the village without a shop at its centre, where people could meet and purchase essentials without having to jump in the car.

“There are now more than 30 volunteers who help to run the shop – which has gone from strength to strength and now sells an enormous and rich assortment of items – many locally sourced.

“It really is the heartbeat of the village.”

During the autumn, the shop also supplies surplus fruit and vegetables from villagers’ gardens and allotments – all available for a donation. Profits from the shop are ploughed back into the community with donations to local organisations including Islip Cricket Club and the village pre-school.

The village celebrated the shop’s anniversary with a party – with the help of donations from the Co-op and other local shops and chains.

Similar community shops have sprung up around the county as profit-making businesses withdraw.

This month Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, near Wallingford, celebrated the opening of its own community shop – with TV presenter Charlie Brooker, who used to live in the village, as guest of honour.

And Letcombe Regis, near Wantage, got a new shop as part of a £500,000 retirement village development.