The village shop at Appleton Wiske which has become the heart of the community since lockdown

Jackie McReddie grew up in Hutton Rudby and for the past 30 years has lived in Appleton Wiske where she has run the village shop and post office for the past four years, which she tells of taking over “on a whim”.

The Village Shop has become a village hub since lockdown

Recently, Jackie received a Lockdown Legends award from Deliciously Yorkshire in recognition of her work on behalf of her community during Covid-19 restrictions earlier in the year that saw her shopping in Northallerton on behalf of those who couldn’t get out, delivering for them and running her own business.

It was all part of what Jackie has always done whether serving customers in pubs and hotels in her youth that took her to Solberge Hall, just 15 miles from where she lives today, running a children’s nursery in Potto or being an early years teacher at RAF Leeming, which is why the award came as a complete, but happy, surprise.

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“I wasn’t aware of being nominated or even that there was an award,” said Jackie, in between serving a busy lunchtime trade in the shop.

The landlord and owner of the Lord Nelson pub provides cakes for the Jackie McReddie from the village shop.

“I still don’t know who nominated us. It was my daughter Kasi who said ‘did I know’ about being shortlisted, but then lots of people in the village went online to add their support.

“We have quite a few older people in Appleton Wiske and we are about seven miles from Northallerton, where most would go to for their bigger weekly shop.

“When they couldn’t go, they phoned me and asked whether I could do their shopping for them, deliver it and leave it on the door-step.

“Any time I would normally have a few hours off and pop across the road to my home was instead spent either going out to restock the shop or shopping for others.

“That’s what we did, myself and Yvonne Hills who has worked with me since I started and has been here many years. The award is for both of us.

“When lockdown started we leafleted the whole village the next morning thanks to four or five volunteers, letting them know about how we could help.

“I found that a lot of people wanted things I didn’t stock at the time, which I couldn’t have previously because there wasn’t the demand but it then made sense for me to start stocking a bigger range of convenience food items like jams, honeys and teas rather than buying from other shops.

“There’s only so much you can stock in a village shop and I can’t compete with supermarkets on price, but my milk bill increased by 200 per cent and my meat bill by 80 per cent.

“I’ve increased my overall shop stock by about 50 per cent since then and I’d say about 80 per cent of those who came during lockdown have now stayed with me.

“The more people who come into the shop, the more viable it is. I then reinvest it all in taking on more stock. I found out far more about what people like during lockdown and certainly saw a lot more people.

“I’ve also refurbished the shop so that it has more of a small farm shop feel to it.”

Being in a rural area Jackie also believes in supporting local farmers and has great relationships with two farm shops – Five Houses, run by Kitson’s in Crathorne and Hutchinson Hobbs at Holdenfields Farm near Yarm.

“I talk regularly with the owners Barry Hutchinson and Tony Kitson who are both very supportive, tell me what’s going on in their businesses and lines that I might store.

“Local produce is important to me and they buy their meat from farmers that are located close to Appleton Wiske such as Cliff Dove and Chris and Colin Donald, whose produce I then sell here or can order from both farm shops.”

Local baking is another of Jackie’s major draws. Her daughter Kasi simply walks across the village street each day to supply her latest creations.

“I have two fabulous bakers in the village who do all my gorgeous cakes. One is Kasi who has two kitchens in her house, with one now devoted to making cakes for me and a shop in Northallerton; then there’s Iain at our village pub the Lord Nelson.

“I also have sourdough from a girl in Welbury and millionaire shortbread from another young lady. They all have their own specialities.

“When I was younger I always wanted to own a fruit shop. My father was a butcher with Honeyman’s Butchers in Hutton Rudby.

“How I became involved here was when Tony Lawson who had the shop before me had to close the post office because of poor trade. The shop was going to close too.

“I asked Yvonne when they were going to get the post office back and the conversation got around to why didn’t I do it?

“I was ready for a career move and in about three seconds flat I said okay. That was it.

“I love this village and my two gorgeous girls Kasi and Jenni, who is teaching in Canada, at the moment both grew up here.

“The shop is now the hub of our fantastic village community where everyone likes to come and have a chat.

“I’m feeling a lot more positive about the shop as before Covid-19 came along it was quite tough and a lot of people didn’t use it, which was a shame.

“I think we have proved how important it can be and I hope we keep getting even more.

“We are ideal for those who live and work here. This is the kind of village that doesn’t empty during the day.

“You don’t have everybody going off to work elsewhere and just coming back on a night. We have a good mix of older and younger people who all now support their village shop.”

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Thank you

James Mitchinson