Popular Rogate shopkeeper retires

Ann Arnold hands the keys over to Peter Cragg
Ann Arnold hands the keys over to Peter Cragg
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Popular village shopkeeper Ann Arnold has decided to call it a day at Rogate Stores after transforming the business over the past seven years.

Popular village shopkeeper Ann Arnold has decided to call it a day at Rogate Stores after transforming the business over the past seven years.

On May 1 she officially handed over the keys to Peter Cragg who manages Harting Stores, the community shop in South Harting.

Ann had been a ‘weekend villager’ for 20 years before she gave up her job as a school headmistress in London in 2004 and moved to Rogate to open her village stores.

She was successful in gaining a £20,000 grant from Chichester District Council and a further £5,000 from Action In Rural Sussex and transformed the former village stores building.

She soon added a hair salon, coffee area and brought in a lottery machine.

“I have loved every moment of it,” she told the Observer, “but now I am ready to take on new challenges.

Ann said she had decided to call it a day because there was nothing more she could do at the shop.

The former parish councillor, also masterminded Rogate Appeal for a Playground’s (RAP) successful £50,000 lottery bid to build a new play area behind the recreation ground.

She is now taking a well-earned break before beginning her next challenge.

“We have gone through the preliminary process and are about to make a second lottery application for £150,000 to refurbish the church roof at St Bartholomew’s,” she said.

In addition Ann was at the centre of the team which refurbished the youth club in the village.

Now she wants to devote more time to young people in Rogate: “I am a special needs teacher and I want to start up a group to help those who are not reaching their full potential.”

Meanwhile Mr Cragg said he was looking forward to running the village shop.

“Everyone has been positive and welcoming,” he said.

He plans to put in a new delicatessen counter offering more cheeses and cold meats, to open a tea room and to offer more local fresh fruit and vegetables.