Supermarket devastated by ram raiders reopening after staff spend 10 months working from a barn
PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:13 05 October 2018
A village shop smashed up by ram raiders is making a triumphant return to the high street almost a year working from barn.
In a heartwarming display of community spirit, neighbours rallied round to find a new home for the East of England Co-Op store in Dedham in time for Christmas.
Not wanting to be without their only supermarket, they found a temporary home for the store in the Duchy Barn, located behind Dedham Parish Church off the High Street, while extensive care work was carried out to the listed building.
The parish council and the Co-op enlisted the help of local villagers to move items over.
Being based in a barn for 10 months was not without its challenges for the Co-op’s staff, especially when temperatures plunged to -10°C during the Beast from the East, then shot up to more than 30°C in the summer.
But staff are now returning to the Co-Op’s home in time for Christmas.
“I was very sad to see our shop almost falling apart in front of me, especially as we had got the shop looking so lovely ready for Christmas,” said store manager Diane Roper.
“The community has been great, everybody has been pleased we are still here, but customers and businesses in Dedham are very anxious that we get back to the High Street as soon as possible.”
The Duchy Barn itself has had a somewhat colourful history.
From its original function as a barn serving Dedham Hall in pre-medieval times, it became a cart-shed storage space, a changing room and pavillion for football and cricket clubs, a recreation room with a boxing ring for soldiers in training during the First World War, a parish mortuary, a tourist information centre and a youth and community centre, before taking on its current role as makeshift supermarket.
The barn will return to its use as a community centre when the Co-op store moves out and reopens on the high street.
The Co-op’s customer service assistant, Linda Calver, said: “Being in the barn has been a real experience, hot at times and a bit cold in the winter, but at least we’ve had a shop for our customers which is the most important thing.”
Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive for the East of England Co-op, said the support the store has received over the last 10 months has been a “true example of co-operation in action”.
He added: “We’re now looking forward to getting back to our High Street store and continuing to serve the people of Dedham.”
Melanie Green, who has lived in Dedham for most of her life, congratulated Co-op staff for “a fantastic display of team efforts”.
She said: “They’ve all pulled together under a stressful situation and provided a great service for the village. We should have a village party to celebrate the team.”
The new look Co-op will reopen at 9am on October 30. The first 30 customers through the door will each receive a £5 voucher to spend in store.