Report of rock star bailing out South Downs village shop ‘not true’ say residents

Residents in a South Downs village have hit out at claims that a rock star has bailed out their award-winning local shop.

Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 5:45 pm

A report in a national newspaper this week claimed that the rock star had donated £10,000 to Fittleworth Stores following a plea for donations.

But the community-owned Fittleworth Stores maintains it has not received such a donation - and doesn’t need one because it is thriving, even in lockdown.

In a message to villagers, the shop said the article had ‘no foundation in the truth’ and had ‘not been rescued from closure by donation from anyone. Nor have we ever sent out any appeals for donations due to a loss of income.’

Alison Welterveden and Toni Humphrey, co-managers at Fittleworth Stores

And Alison Welterveden, who co-manages Fittleworth Stores with Toni Humphrey, said: “It was a completely false story. We are not in any financial danger at all and we hate the thought our community might think they might lose this wonderful resource.”

And the stores’ committee chairman Mick Foote added: “The shop has been doing fantastically well. Just two and a half years after opening and we have surpassed all expectations.”

In a report to the shop’s annual meeting, he highlighted the store’s successes over the year and outlined its profits - which are reinvested back into the community.

Last year Fittleworth Stores scooped the title of National Village Shop of the Year in the Farm Shop and Deli Awards 2020, along with a Sussex countryside award from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

Fittleworth Stores

The awards delighted villagers who spent nearly three years planning, fundraising and building the community shop, post office and cafe before it finally opened in October 2018 alongside a brand-new playground near the village hall.

The project was the brainchild of Alison Welterveden who brought it to fruition with the help of Shelagh Morgan, Mick Foote and Sammi Leese - and support from the rest of the village, many of whom now volunteer as helpers in the shop.

Since the pandemic, the shop has been as busy as ever with customers queuing to snap up groceries, fresh bread, milk, eggs, meat, fruit, vegetables, petfood, local crafts, household goods - and more.

It has also organised home deliveries and a click and collect service from the village hall - and has been praised for creating a community hub bringing people together in the village.