A village shop which was destined for closure two years ago as it struggled to find a buyer has completed a remarkable turnaround by being named Leicestershire’s Village Shop of the Year.

Norm’s in Thornton fought off strong competition from across the county to win the contest, which attracted thousands of votes.

Manager Nigel Bennett, 52, has lived in the village all his life and couldn’t bear to see the store close down so took over after quitting his previous job in the construction industry.

He said: “It’s been an amazing journey. I’d like to think we’ve given the place a new lease of life and really brought it into the 21st century. The support we’ve had throughout the competition has been incredible.”

Staff at Norm’s pride themselves on helping out the community and regularly collect elderly residents shopping lists before delivering their groceries and having a cup of teas with them to keep them company.

It was that commitment to customer service and village life which helped them win the backing of the judges in the contest. Almost 8,000 votes were registered, with nearly 6,500 coming through Facebook alone. More than 1,400 postal votes were received from across the county.

The contest, backed by the Rural Shops Alliance, was organised by Lutterworth-based retail consultant Corin Birchall under his Cherish Village Shops brand, a not-for-profit campaign to support and champion rural retailers.

Mr Birchall, who also works with Leicestershire County Council to deliver the village shop support scheme, said: “The competition has been brilliant and snowballed beyond expectations.

“To have the number of votes we did is incredible and demonstrates just how much people care about their village shops. They are vital to our communities and all of us need to do that little more to support them rather than simply relying on the supermarkets all the time.”

Find out more about our win here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01xd55z

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