The Shop History

Three locations - One Postcode!

The Spirit of Frensham

2020 …we’ve never seen a year like it, and we’re certainly not going to forget it for a while. We saw the entire country unite together in a common purpose to celebrate the heroes of the NHS, and other key workers that kept our streets clean, our recycling collected, and our children educated.

The people of Frensham and Dockenfield were no different. The streets were lined with people clapping NHS and key workers, neighbours were helping neighbours and in Frensham village shop we did our bit as we aimed to supply food and drink to whoever needed it. Early on, we knew that some of our community would need to self-isolate and getting a delivery slot with the big supermarkets was pretty much impossible.

Fortunately for us and our community, we had a team of incredible volunteers ready and on a mission to ensure that whoever wanted it, got the supplies they needed

Thanks to Martin Beer we had a grocery home delivery service set up from scratch, and a new batch of volunteers who all answered the call within the first week of lockdown. For the first time ever, you could call up the shop in the morning, and have fresh fruit and veg (and let’s be honest, a pack of biscuits…or two) that afternoon. If you were one of the people who utilised our new home delivery service, chances are you might have even seen one of our volunteers, Andy delivering your shopping on his bike! In total we made around 1,000 deliveries, which is hugely impressive from not offering the service at the start of the year, and the significant logistical challenges required to ensure that our staff and volunteers were kept safe. We adjusted opening hours, installed screens and have kept staff and customers up to date with regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and numbers in the store.

Thanks to Claire Beer, in what seems like a very organised household, we also had a brand-new newspaper delivery service, making sure that we could keep our customers up to date if they weren’t able to make it into the shop. Again, this was really pleasing to see us delivering daily to around 70 households from a standing start. All involved with the shop want to thank the many volunteers who have helped, and we will find a way to recognise their contributions once we are able to! It has been heart-warming to see how the community has pulled together, be it the volunteers or our customers, but as more people have spent more time at home, we have increased the role we were able to play for them in many ways this year.

Keeping the engine running throughout was our brilliant Shop Manager Paul Wakeman, along with Valerie, Clive, Christine, Bea and Ella – alongside the volunteers, old and new. Paul, Clive and our volunteers hunted down stock across a variety of suppliers across Surrey and Hampshire to ensure we could offer as full a range as possible. We were also able to source essentials of flour, eggs and tinned goods thanks to Squires Garden Centre as well. Sadly, it’s time for us to thank Paul for all his hard work and dedication over the past 8 years, as he and his wife Sharon have been inspired to act on a long-held desire to relocate to rural Wales.

This does mean that we are on the lookout for a new shop manager to join us and help us build on the important role the Shop has played in 2020, but also to build on the momentum we have had. Following the shop refit last year, we have been in a great place to better able to serve our customers, and we have seen a lot of our new customers turning into regulars, which has really helped the shop’s performance this year. If you, or anyone you know, has a background in food & convenience retail management, please look at our website for more details (, or come down and speak to us about it.


In January 2020 Frensham Village Shop celebrated its 24th Anniversary as a Community-run shop!

Early Days

In 1995 the last owners of a commercial village shop and Post Office (operating from premises almost opposite the current shop) decided to close down.
An emergency meeting of villagers from Frensham and Dockenfield was called by the Chairman of the Parish Council, Mike Millerchip, to discuss setting up a Community Shop. Approximately 70 people turned out on a snowy December evening to hear how other villages had kept their shops alive, and enough people were willing to join a committee to take it further. With only 3 weeks to the existing shop’s closure, committee members went around the two villages knocking on doors, and £20k was raised in the form of Loan Bonds.
Thanks to the generosity of Mr & Mrs Heath we were able to set up shop almost next door to the one that was closing in what used to be the village butcher’s shop.
A team of volunteers worked tirelessly to clad the tiled walls and fit shelving so as to able to open with the minimum of delay in January 1996. A small 'fortress style' Post Office was installed at the rear of the shop and a cellar below the shop (accessed by a trapdoor and rickety stairs) provided the main storage space. From 1996 until the end of 2007 the local community was served from this small, friendly shop.

The 'cabin' period

In 2007 the owners wished to sell their property. With advice from the Plunkett Foundation, a charity focussed on supporting rural enterprise and especially village shops, the decision was made to move temporarily to a purpose-built container, which was sited in the car park in the Hollowdene recreation ground. This required energetic planning and preparation, the issue of more Loan Bonds, that have since been repaid, and enthusiastic support from the residents once again to persuade the planners of its importance to the community.

Our Treasurer at the time, the late 'Paddy' Haines, was instrumental in the planning and implementation of the move to a cabin while continually supporting the day to day operation of the shop in so many ways. Paddy also set up a group called the "Friends of the Village Shop" to co-ordinate the new fund-raising efforts required.  At the instigation of Paddy and Chris Haines, in 2007, 2008 and 2011, Scarecrow Festivals were held in the village to help raise funds for the shop.  These proved incredibly popular and were repeated in 2015 and 2018 for the benefit of other local organisations.  Look out for another Scarecrow Festival in 2020 or 2021!

Newcomers to the village should note the wooden bench outside the shop which has a plaque in Paddy's memory.

The 'portacabin' shop was formally opened by our local MP Jeremy Hunt.



Meanwhile the shop committee was looking into the possibility of a new build shop at the end of the children's play area and a draft plan was produced. This would have required very considerable funds to be raised. Fortuitously the owners of Shortfield Garage decided that the property should be re-developed and the Parish Council was instrumental in persuading the owners and developers to make a major contribution to the local community. Thus in June 2010 developers Arcadia started demolition prior to building nine two-bedroom houses and a community building to hold both the Shop and a Parish Council room.

The New Shop

While the build was in progress we were able to specify our requirements for power and lighting, telephone, kitchen facilities etc and arrange for air-conditioning pipework to be installed before the ceiling was fitted.  A project team was set up headed by Andy Barker to plan and implement the complete fit out of the new premises.  So many decisions to make! Firstly - should we engage a professional shop-fitting company or take a DIY approach?  We decided we had the abilities for DIY and this would certainly keep the expenditure down.  Decoration, flooring, counters, shelving, refrigeration equipment, CCTV, computer system, signage - some of the key things that had to be thought about and sourced.  We decided early on that we would buy new shelving so that trading in the "cabin" could continue un-interrupted until a final changeover day into the new premises. The first design challenge was to decide on a shelving and counter layout and many options were considered. Finally, the short-listed options were laid out, at full scale, in the gym at More House School which enabled us to finalise our choice!

While all the project work was progressing further fund-raising was underway and applications were made for grants. The Surrey Hills Leader Fund, Farnham Institute Charity and Surrey Community Action all generously gave us grants.

All the shelving was assembled by committee members and helpers but the PO and shop counters were supplied and installed by a special PO-approved manufacturer. The chiller unit was bought second-hand via Ebay and the store-room shelving was given to us by Waitrose!

Finally, over the weekend of 4th/5th June 2011 a large team of people undertook the job of moving all the shop stock from the cabin to the new premises, by wheel-barrow, sack trolley and car boots, and then setting it out on the new shelving.

With excellent timing the red post box which had been outside the original shop, was returned the next day, newly refurbished and installed ready for use.

The official opening of the shop was held the following saturday, June 11th, with racing driver Damon Hill cutting the ribbon and in the presence of MP Jeremy Hunt and a large crowd of enthusiastic local residents!

The years since 2011 have generally seen slow but steady growth in sales and a gradual build up of reserves to the point where, in 2016, we were able to start making some useful donations to local charitable causes.  We repeated this Big Give-back in 2017 and 2018 but in 2019 decided that the shop needed re-vitalising and that we would use reserves for a major refurbishment and changes to our Opening Hours and product lines.  This took place in October 2019.