A WOMAN'S dream of setting up a not-for-profit community shop offering everyday essentials has been scuppered after a last-minute change of heart by the ruling committee at the village hall where it was to be based.
The decision means Kirston Clulow must now return £8,300 of grant funding and has disappointed the team of trustees and volunteers recruited to run the Maypole Community Shop, in Ovington, near Barnard Castle, County Durham.
Mrs Clulow, 41, came up with the community shop idea while recovering from a health scare.
The mum-of-two has suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a disease of the heart muscle – since birth.
In August 2012, she developed palpitations and collapsed. She was rushed to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, for treatment and has been unable to return to work as an accountant.
“I was not able to drive and was virtually housebound. I felt isolated and quite down,” she said.
“I would ask my husband to bring things like bread and milk home with him, but he would forget.”
This prompted her idea to operate a small shop at the village hall on a Tuesday and Thursday to coincide with the Post Office's visit.
“I asked the village hall committee for agreement in principal and did a questionnaire.
“The feedback was positive and they gave approval to use the meeting room in the hall for the shop,” said Mrs Clulow.
“I kept the committee up-to-date with what was happening and once we got the grant funding, I requested access to the meeting room for an electrician and shopfitter.”
She said it was at this point the committee appeared to be stalling on the shop plan. Then in February, permission was withdrawn altogether.
This led to the resignation of three committee members, including Mrs Clulow's husband Derek, who was chairman.
David Nixon, acting chairman of Ovington Village Hall, said it would be inappropriate to comment until after the next committee meeting on March 26.
However, committee minutes show concern had been raised about how much useable space there would be in the meeting room once the shop was in place.
There was also a question raised over how and where tables and chairs currently stored in the room would be housed.
Mrs Clulow said she offered to provide an insulated and water tight outdoor wooden storage facility, but this was rejected.