Crowd toasts return of village’s store

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MORE than 100 people gathered to toast the reopening of a village’s only store.

Champagne was handed over to the waiting guests at Southwick Village Stores as the ribbon was cut on the official reopening in the spring sunshine. Mark Thistlethwayte, owner of the store said: ‘We know that people have been waiting a while for the return of the store and it’s fantastic to be able to cut the ribbon and let people in.’

The store which has been an ever-present on the village’s High Street for centuries, opened following a full refurbishment with a potential tea rooms to follow suit later on this year.

Mr Thistlethwayte added: ‘Hopefully we will open up a tea rooms later this summer.

‘It is something that we have been looking into for quite some time which would be a great add-on to the store as it has been here for many generations and I am sure they would love to see a tea rooms added on.’

A community post office is also in the works.

Paul Osborne, the store’s manager, who ran Pages of Wickham previously, said: ‘Southwick is lovely and there’s a great community here. There’s been a lot of interest in the new store and I am very happy it’s open for all the people to enjoy.’