A village shop in rural Northumberland which won a national award is in the running to be crowned ‘champion of champions.’
Longframlington Village Shop, near Rothbury, was named the best rural store in Britain by the Countryside Alliance in 2006.
It is now competing against other winners of that award over the last decade from all over the country to be named the alliance’s champion of champions.
The shop, which sits on the A697 through the village, has been owned and run for the last 42 years by David Carr.
As well as providing the usual groceries and newspapers, the seven staff store delivers prescriptions on behalf of a pharmacy in Rothbury and in one particularly bad recent winter, performed the service for patients of far-flung Harbottle surgery.
Mr Carr, 62, and who lives in Longframlington, works at least 80 hours a week at the shop, getting up each day to arrive at the store in time for the milkman’s 3.45am call before making up bread rolls for the morning trade.
This unsurprisingly leaves him somewhat tired.
“I have my dinner and we sit down to watch the telly and I fell asleep within five minutes! I get a rollicking every night!”
In addition to the services the shop offers locally, Mr Carr personally gardens on a voluntary basis at St Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth once a week.
In recent times, he has also spoken on rural crime to inmates at HMP Northumberland - the shop having been broken into 13 times over the 42 years.
“They do not think breaking into a shop is like breaking into a house but it is the same thing. It is not just the shop which suffers, it is the family, it is the village.
“It has been quite rewarding I must say, even if we get one to change their ways, it is quite an achievement.”
Mr Carr has received a series of items carved with the word sorry from prisoners, as well as a bear with a heart on, a rose made out of dough and cards.
The shop has won a clutch of awards over the years, including Wiseman’s Shop of the Year 2002 and Countryside Alliance Village Shop and Post Office of the year in 2006.
The alliance is now marking ten years of its ‘rural oscars’ with the champion of champions awards, which will see winners from over the last decade competing in a one-off public vote.
The Longframlington shop is the only entrant from the North East and is up against seven other stores from across England in the village shop and post office category.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the House of Lords in February, which Mr Carr is to attend.
He said: “We have already booked our hotel, we are really looking forward to it.
“We are the only North representatives, we have got to win!
“It is fingers crossed. It would be nice to win for the North East, not just for the village but for the whole of the North East.”
Voting for the awards is open between November 1 and 30.
People can vote for the Longframlington shop via polling cards in the store.