Almost a year after it was devastated by floods, Ponsanooth Village Stores in Cornwall has re-opened its doors following months of hard graft and an extraordinary show of community spirit.

Retailer Michelle Firminger, who had owned the store for less than six months before it was gutted by floods last Christmas Eve, said the re-opening would not have been possible without the support of local customers.

“The insurance company payout didn’t come close to what we needed to rebuild the store with the preventative measures needed to stop it flooding again, so we also applied for a government grant, which we got, and the rest of the financial gap was bridged by the generosity of local people,” she explained.

Several thousand pounds were raised at a variety of fund-raising events over the year, while local company Truro Portable Buildings donated one of its log cabins which Michelle was able to use as a temporary store while the refurbishment was carried out. A local couple also gave permission for the temporary store to be erected on their land.

“Many of our loyal local customers also volunteered to work in the temporary shop for free, which was incredible as it helped to keep the business afloat and save on staff costs,” she added.

The new-look store, which was officially opened last week, now features an open-plan post office, the National Lottery, plus a large deli counter with local meats and cheeses as well as home-made baguettes.

Michelle has also been able to increase her staff from four to nine.

“It’s simply fantastic to finally be in and trading in our beautiful new store. It’s hard to believe it’s the same place and I still pinch myself when I walk in each morning as it’s so lovely. The customers’ reaction has also been overwhelming.

“In the end the whole thing has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Everyone including myself was devastated at first, but over the past 11 months we have come together in an incredible way and the shop and the community are now stronger than ever,” she added.