Shop opens in St Mary the Virgin Church in Beech Hill

The store in St Mary the Virgin Church in Beech Hill near Reading is run by local people

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A village shop that is run from the aisles of a working church has opened in Berkshire.

The store in St Mary the Virgin Church in Beech Hill near Reading is run by locals and profits will be ploughed back into the community.

It was officially opened by TV presenter and former model Melinda Messenger, who lives locally.

Many residents have invested in the enterprise, which has also been funded by the Big Lottery Fund and grants.

Invisible on Sundays

Sam Moore, founder of the shop, said the idea came from reading a magazine while on holiday.

"I saw an article about a shop within a church, but it was within a small cupboard and I thought 'what a lovely idea'.

"Our village needs something like that.

Melinda Messenger opening the shop Melinda Messenger, who lives nearby, opened the shop

"I kept thinking about it and pondering it.

"Then I went to the vicar here and she said: 'Oh yes, how fantastic. Let's do it'.'"

The shop has to be invisible when not in use so that it does not interfere with church business.

Stuart Barry, chairman of the shop committee, said: "On Saturday afternoon, when we close, we just close all the cupboards, take everything off the top and it looks like normal church furniture along the side.

"No-one would know it was a shop."

The Plunkett Foundation, which is helping 150 communities start similar shops, provided support for the store.

It said there were more than 300 community run shops in the country and in the past 25 years only 13 had closed.

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