A VILLAGE store is celebrating its 15th year after winning two awards, one after the other.

Leslie and Tim Francis run the Spar store and Post Office in Enham. On Monday, they celebrated the shop’s anniversary with a large cake and a visit from the mayor.

Mr Francis said: “We also had Phil North [borough councillor for the area] visit, which was nice. The cake was massive, but we finished it all by 3pm!”

Mrs Francis said: “We hope there’s many more to come. We’ve worked hard to ensure the community has everything it needs. This is our family, and we have our home.”

The store became a Spar last year, but since joining they were given a ‘best community retailer’ award by the company.

They also won an ‘unsung heroes’ award, being the only Spar in the south to be nominated. The pair said it was ‘amazing’.

Mrs Francis said: “We’ve only been with them for six months, but they’ve supported us with what we need to be a great store.”

Pointing to Mrs Francis, Mr Francis said “She’s the powerhouse of it all. She works 60, maybe 65 hours a week. If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is.

“We’ve had customers threaten us, saying if we ever try to leave, they will barricade the door from the outside.

“We can’t compete with the supermarkets for range, but we try to be more friendly. There are really nice people here, and we try to treat them all as friends. We greet everyone by name, and we hope people leave with a smile rather than a frown.”

The pair are currently competing in the Countryside Alliance Rural Oscars, and shoppers can fill in a sheet to support the store.

The pair were regional nominees in the competition five years ago, and were invited to the Houses of Parliament to celebrate. This year, they are hoping to win the regional heats and represent the south in the final.

The shop also collects for the village food bank, and has a postbox for children to send letters to Santa.

Behind the tills are several awards won by the pair. Mr Francis is particularly proud of an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, and the framed invite sits among the awards.

“It’s particularly special because that was one of our customers who put us forward. We think we know who, but it’s amazing one of them would think to do it for us.”

The store will be hosting a country fair with Christmas crafts, 12-7pm, December 2 and 3.