The community of Harbertonford has taken over the village shop and post office to guarantee its survival. Shop staff, members of the community management committee, and villagers celebrated the takeover on the shop porchway last week.

Two hundred people in the village and surrounding area raised an impressive £70,000 in shares to buy the business from its owner, Gerry Mulrine. Grants were also obtained from The Elmgrant Trust, Harberton Community Benefit Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

Last Friday the keys were handed over to The Harbertonford Community Limited to manage the shop and post office and guarantee the future of this vital service.

A spokesperson for the community group said: “Locals want the enterprise to succeed and are prepared to roll up their sleeves and help – and more than 30 people want to volunteer. They will be aiding the paid staff, helping with refurbishment and supporting the overall running of the premises.”

The shop and post office will be owned and managed by The Harbertonford Community Limited, a community benefit society registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, and is the latest in a growing network of 40 community-owned shops across Devon.

John McKay is chair of The Harbertonford Community Limited and has led the drive to make the community shop and post office a reality.

He said: “We’re really thrilled the shop and post office will now be in the community’s hands. The shop is already a good business, but we want to make it even better in serving the needs of our local communities. We are very pleased to have negotiated a good deal with the current owner.

“We want to offer more locally produced food and other goods, provide a community fridge and, in the future, run a small café and informal meeting place. We see the shop and post office as a thriving hub for the whole local community. And as a community benefit society we will invest any surplus funds into other local projects and activities.”

The post office will be open from 8am to 6pm weekdays and until 1pm on saturdays.

Harbertonford Community Limited is keen to hear from anyone with ideas on what goods and services the shop can provide, or with time and skills to help develop the project. Interested parties can contact John McKay on 07810 007760