Jackie Bawden, chairman of Rowde Parish Council and a leading light in setting up its community shop, has become a trustee of volunteering body Community First.

Mrs Bawden moved to Wiltshire eight years ago and joined the council in 2007.

She said: “I want to see parish councils and community groups survive and thrive because it’s the only way we can sustain and support villages, otherwise they will just turn into places where people sleep.”

A former further education teacher, Mrs Bawden’s interest in Community First was sparked when the parish council got help with its community-led parish plan.

She said: “We worked together as a group to set up the parish plan and to find out about sources of funding that would help us.

"We identified the needs of the village and the people who would be prepared to work together to help improve it.”

Community First advised on the initial consultation and helped devise a questionnaire for households. Two steering groups were set up: one to develop the plan and one to open a shop; one of the main concerns that emerged.

The shop, staffed by up to 30 volunteers, has been open for three years and is the hub of the community. The five-year village plan will soon have run its course and work is now starting on a new one.

Mrs Bawden said: “Community First set up meetings with other community shops, so we could see how it was done, and provided an expert to help us review our performance and expansion plans.

“By becoming a trustee, I hope I can support the charity in its valuable work.”