THE new owners of a popular village shop were given a warm welcome to the Forest during a special opening event last week.

Prashant and Pinal Patel, from Bristol, have officially taken the reigns at Yorkley Village Stores and Post Office after previous owners Andy and Donna Palmer sold the business last month.

Locals attended an event to welcome the new owners on Monday (December 6), at which red tape was cut on the newly-refurbished shop by Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire Roger Deeks.

Music was also provided by Forest of Dean Brass Band, who are based just over the road from the shop, and Mr Deeks gave a speech which welcomed the new owners and highlighted the importance of the shop to the local community.

Prashant and Pinal, who have moved to the Forest with their two children Jiya and Dylan, have started their tenure at the shop with a complete upgrade of the Post Office counter and interior space.

The couple, who have previously owned shops in Bristol, are planning to operate the shop seven days a week from 8.30am until 7.00pm to provide more opportunity for customers.

On the reopening of the store, Mr Patel said: "The Forest of Dean is a wonderful place and we have inherited a shop with a strong customer base and high level of customer service we will maintain.

"Everyone in the village has been incredibly kind and Donna and Andy, the previous owners have been extremely helpful.

"We are looking forward to settling here and making the village our home."

In his speech, Roger Deeks praised outgoing owners Andy and Donna and their team of staff, most of whom are staying with the business, as well as the new investment made by Mr Patel, who he said already loves the "lush pastures and woodland of our forest".

He added the family will have to get used to some of the peculiar ways of talking from the shop’s more "odd" customers, as well as the brass band rehearsing down the road.

Mr Deeks said: "These shops have always been important to the village.

"In lockdown they really proved their worth when they provided a fantastic service and helped people stay safe and local.

"Mr and Mrs Patel are building on a great tradition of offering the community accessible shopping."

Outgoing owners Andy and Donna Palmer, who took over at the shop in 2011, posted on Facebook after selling the business: "It is both sad and exciting times for us.

"We look forward to having more time to enjoy doing the things we love, but will miss all of our wonderful customers who have been so welcoming and supportive over the years."