The Countess of Wessex made a visit to officially open the Benenden Community Shop where she enjoyed time with volunteers who saved the village shop, and post office, from closure. During her visit the Countess unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion and Benenden Community Shop’s official opening. Residents have joined forces with Benenden School, which bought and renovated the premises and leased it to the community, while using the living areas of the building for its staff. There is now a cafe at the shop in The Street, where both paid staff and volunteers work.
The Countess, was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle, who introduced the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Cllr David Neve and Helen Grant MP. Martin Pexton who chairs the Benenden Community Shop Committee took the Countess on a tour of the shop, accompanied by Samantha Price, head teacher of Benenden School. Her Royal Highness, who met managers and volunteers over tea and cake, learned how the shop was saved two years ago by residents.
Mr Pexton said: “The visit of Her Royal Highness was a very special way to celebrate the success of our community shop, which has been achieved through the hard work and enthusiasm of many members of our community.”
Benenden School head teacher Samantha Price said: “We are proud to have played a role in securing this wonderful asset on behalf of the community, and it was a great honour for everyone’s hard work to be recognised by HRH Countess of Wessex today.”