Lee Smith and Arwen Heaton have had a pretty full-on five years since opening Lorton Village Shop.

The couple, who moved here from South Barnsley, have achieved so much – creating a much-appreciated community hub, not to mention a great shop and cafe.

So they had big plans for their fifth birthday at the shop, which is also fondly known as The Shed with a View.

“We were going to have a mini festival, with a concert in the garden," said Arwen, a former leader. "We would have also got the pub involved and had a ceilidh in the village hall."

But, like so many other celebrations this year, it was not to be. The party plans were put on the hold and the couple, who have a daughter, Kelda, carried on with their busy lives. Throughout the coronavirus they have been busier than ever, providing a vital lifeline to many locals.

Which is why the locals were keen to show their gratitude – and mark the shop’s fifth birthday in true community style.

So when Lee, a former business support manager, turned up to work, he was greeted by friendly faces and a shop bedecked with homemade bunting, each flag bearing a personal message from their fans.

“There were more than 50 flags, all individually signed by villagers," said Arwen. “As well as lovely planters and wine. It was fantastic, much appreciated. Lee has worked so hard this year and this meant a lot.

“We are very proud of the community and so pleased to be a part of it.”

The festivities were organised by villagers Pip Wise and Polly Lusher.

“The shop is a focal point of the community and has made a real difference to the people of High and Low Lorton,” said Pip.

“They have always gone out of their way to help the older residents of the village but during lockdown and the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, they have kept the village supplied with essentials and delivered orders to people who are self-isolating.

“People think very highly of the family, they work incredibly hard for our community and it was good to let them know how much they’re valued.

“The shop reflects Lee and Arwen’s ethical and environmental priorities, they stock groceries, handicrafts, coffee and ice creams, using local suppliers wherever they can.”