WHEN Liddington village store closed six years ago, residents were left with a three-mile round trip to Wanborough to pick up a paper and some milk.

Now landlords at The Village Inn have come to the rescue by opening up a grocery store in the corner of the pub.

And Vince and Donna Jones said the new business venture has even helped bringin new customers.

“It all started a few months ago – the residents lost their local shop about six years ago.

“But they noticed the delivery vans stopping off at the pub with good quality local produce and they requested that we order extra stock for them so they didn’t have to make the journey to Wanborough,” said Vince. “So a few months ago, we started offering villagers the opportunity to pre-order as they wanted to take advantage of the local suppliers.

“We were very happy as it means more custom for our butchers from Lambourne, egg suppliers from Purton and local fruit and vegetable suppliers.”

The trial went so well that the couple have now opened the shop selling essential supplies, including fresh bread and daily newspapers, and even invested in a fridge so they could stock dairy products and meat.

“It’s going very well,” said Vince. “And because we’re opening the shop at 8am we decided we may as well offer breakfast too, which is surprisingly popular in a village with only around 200 residents.

“If the local people don’t use it we won’t continue, but we are seeing some people coming in to get their groceries who would never normally come in to the pub, and then they are stopping for some breakfast or a cuppa.

“It has become more of a community hub than we ever thought it would be – we thought we would just be providing a service for people to get some groceries, but people are coming in, stopping for a chat and it has really brought the community together.”

The Village Inn is owned by Arkell’s Brewery and director George Arkell praised the couple on their business expansion.

“Vince and Donna are responding to the needs of the villagers,” he said.

“Opening a small shop is also a great way to encourage new people into the pub.

“Ultimately it’s all about serving the local community, whether with a pint of beer from over the bar or a pint of milk from the shop fridge.”

The Village Shop in the Village Inn is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 2.30pm and 6.30pm until close, and Sundays 8am to 3pm and 7pm until close.