VILLAGE shops have seen a dramatic decline in Wiltshire in recent years but one close to Devizes has bucked the trend.

Urchfont Village shop has just celebrated 15 years since it was first started by the community and is still going strong.

It is in stark contrast to the community shop in Rowde, near Devizes which closed at the end of last year due to a lack of volunteers and customers.

Urchfont shop manager Barbara Myers was delighted that scores of people turned out for the celebration.

She said: “More than 80 people attended on what was a miserable day weather-wise.

After a welcome by the vice-chairman, Rodney Gillington, the chairman, Richard Mistlin, gave a short history of how the Shop came into being, mentioning some of the original people and organisations involved in the five years of planning.

“ There was also an opportunity to sample some cakes which we’re going to sell in the shop, and these seemed to be enjoyed.”

Among those in attendance was Devizes MP Danny Kruger who cut the celebration cake. He said: “I want to give a huge congratulations to Barbara and all of the volunteers. It is a massive neighbourhood effort with 55 volunteers.”

The cake had been made by Cecilia Gillington and after the cutting ceremony villagers went to the Lamb pub as guests of Julie and Alex Elliott to enjoy tea and cake.

The village shop first opened in 2005 in a converted out building of the Lamb after being five years in the planning stages.

Among the latest villages to lose their shops is Rowde, near Devizes.

It closed at the end of last year after finding it difficult to attract enough volunteers.

Chairman Jan Barber said: “For several years we were saying we needed more volunteers and more importantly increased trade to make it viable.

“Neither have been forthcoming. The small band that kept it running must be thanked for their dedication in working hard to keep it going for the last ten years.

“These included people doing building work and repairs. All this has been lost because the village chose not to listen. Another important community group wiped out by village apathy.

“We have had some good times and the laughter and camaraderie will be sadly missed.”