Welcome to Hemyock Sunday, December 09 2018 @ 07:49 pm GMT

Christine Celebrates 21 Years of Hemyock Spar

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General News 21 years of business has flown by for the owner of Spar in Hemyock.  Christine Stepney celebrated the shop's coming of age with a food and drink tasting and a giveaway of 21 carrier bags containing ingredients for an English breakfast. She moved to Hemyock from Reading to run the business with her late husband David and children Claire and Martin in 1986. Both teachers, the couple found the retail trade a shock to the system at first.

Christine, 53, said: "We used to joke that we went from 13 weeks holiday a year to none. It was several years before we had even a day off."

David died of cancer nine years ago aged 45. As part of the 21st anniversary the store is running a raffle during February in aid of St Margaret's Hospice New Build Appeal.

Christine said: "The hospice supported us while David was ill, and we felt the raffle was a way of him celebrating with us."

Martin, 27, who is training to be a teacher in Taunton, marked the special day by dressing up as the cartoon cat Sylvester and welcoming customers into the shop.

Christine said: "It's what his dad would have done and as he's into amateur dramatics anyway, he was more than willing to do it. It caused quite a stir, people wondering who it was; not even his grandfather recognised him at first."

The shop has 14 full-time and part-time staff, including Audrey Lowman, who has been there since the beginning.

Christine said: "They have been great, I wouldn't be able to manage without them."

It was never Christine's intention to be running the business this long - she and David planned to keep it going until the children left home then reassess the situation. It was the sense of community which persuaded them to carry on.

She said: "I have enjoyed being part of the community and have made some good friends. It's wonderful to be at the heart of the village and provide such a vital service."

Christine, who is now remarried to a man called Anthony Vaughan, was touched by the kindness of her fellow villagers when David died.

She said: "So many people supported me when David was ill and I have never seen a church so full than for his funeral."