Broadwindsor Community Stores has a new manager – and, already, he feels at home.
Stephen Jarvis, who lives in Swyre, started his new role on 2 December, working alongside shop assistant Jane Sloman and volunteers from the award-winning shop in Drimpton Road.
“It’s a great shop,” he said. “I felt at home here on the first day. People are so friendly and it’s great that the local community is so behind it.”
Mr Jarvis, pictured above with shop assistant Jane Sloman, worked as a department manager at a Spar shop in Dorchester after running his own cheese and dairy business for 15 years.
Fraser Hughes, chairman of Broadwindsor and District Community Enterprise which runs the shop, said he and the committee were delighted to welcome Stephen on board and hoped he would continue to settle in well to the manager’s role’
Mr Jarvis replaces Sue Williams, who is going to Laos to join a group of volunteers and teach English in a Buddhist monastery school and in the wider community.
Ms Williams, who managed the community stores since it opened in the spring of 2012, is realising a long-held ambition to return to the Far East after teaching in Thailand a few years ago.
She will be living in Luang Prabang, a World Heritage site on the Mekong River.
“The ability to speak English can be the route out of poverty for many people in Laos,” she said.
“Education in monastery schools is of a high standard but the teachers can become overstretched so that’s where us volunteers come in.
“We concentrate on conversational English so that our students can hear how English should be spoken.
“Unlikely as it sounds, it is possible to tech someone to speak English without speaking a word of their native tongue.
“After three months I shall be helping to run the project and using my experience teaching in Thailand to help train other volunteers.”
She added that when she applied for the internship she had been asked if she had any experience in managing volunteers. As Broadwindsor Community Stores relies on an unpaid army of local people to help run the shop, Ms Williams was able to respond with a resounding ‘yes’.
After the first six months, she hopes to take up a permanent staff position or a full-time teaching post.
“Either way, I’ll be back in the UK next July for a visit,” she said.
Mr Hughes said: “It’s no exaggeration to say the shop would never have got off to its very successful start without Sue’s outstanding contribution, and the community owes her a real debt of gratitude for what she has done for the shop.”