Peninsular stores look secure

THE future of two rural businesses in Suffolk has been secured with new owners stepping in to run the vital services.The Corner Garage at Shotley – the only petrol station and MOT centre on the Shotley Peninsula – has been bought by a couple from Woking.

THE future of two rural businesses in Suffolk has been secured with new owners stepping in to run the vital services.

The Corner Garage at Shotley – the only petrol station and MOT centre on the Shotley Peninsula – has been bought by a couple from Woking.

Nik and Trish Butler, took on the business after Mrs Butler found it advertised on the Internet.

The couple and their two daughters had never lived more than ten miles from Woking, but have quickly taken to their new home in Suffolk.

Mr Butler, 41, a trained City and Guilds mechanic, said: "We liked the look of it straight away. I was running a small workshop where I lived before. It was too small and I wanted to expand but we didn't have much luck buying around our area."

His 36-year-old wife said the Corner Garage had appealed to them as soon as they saw it.

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"It was everything we wanted, a pretty cottage and a nice looking rural garage. We could see ourselves living here."

The couple have only been in Shotley for a week, but already they have felt welcomed by the local community and Mr Butler, a keen mountain biker is looking forward to exploring the area.

Government red tape concerned with the transfer of ownership means he will not be able to run the MOT part of the business for another two or three weeks, but he is using the time to refurbish the MOT workshop.

Patrick Mann, the previous owner and chairman of Shotley Parish Council, said he was delighted the garage would continue once he had decided to retire after running it for more than 18 years.

"It has always been my wish that it did carry on as a business. The community supported it well and deserves that it continue. I've always believed there was a future for small businesses," he said.

While in nearby Holbrook, villagers are also preparing for the end of an era when Colin and Sheila Ashman retire on April 10 from the post office and shop they have run for almost 15 years.

But who the new owners are remains a mystery as they have asked Mr Ashman not to reveal who their identity until they take over the following day.

Mr Ashman said he was looking forward to retirement and to having more time for his hobbies of fishing and painting.

"We've worked extremely hard to change this from a tiny one-position post office to a large three-position post office and shop. I happen to believe we have one of the best village post offices for miles."

The Ashmans moved to Holbrook from Essex, but have had little time to find out about the area in which they have lived for so long, another thing on their list of plans for the future.

Mr Ashman has always been a keen supporter of the Federation of Sub Postmasters, and serves on the Ipswich committee. He said he would be prepared to continue helping out with federation business if he was asked to.

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