Barrowden pays tribute to community shop founder Sheila Saunders
Villagers in Barrowden are set to say farewell to community champion Sheila Saunders after she died suddenly, aged 85, earlier this month.
Sheila played a big role in Barrowden life, serving several community roles, including two spells as parish council chairman.
However, perhaps her lasting legacy is Barrowden and Wakerley Community Shop which she drove though to its opening in 2009.
Friday morning's funeral service will be led by her son Martyn at St Peter’s Church in the village.
The funeral cortege will halt at the village green for friends and neighbours to pay their respects, while the shop she spearheaded will pay its own fitting tribute.
“We are going to close the shop between 10 and 11 for the first time ever as a mark of respect,” said Craig Mitchell, chairman of Barrowden and Wakerley Village Shop.
"The shop was very much down to her. She was no longer a director, but continued to volunteer, and even the week before she died was there making sandwiches to be sold.
“She was active, very well-respected and admired, worked incredibly hard, and was successful at what she did."
Sheila grew up in Rye, East Sussex, before moving to Northamptonshire in 1963 when she married the Rev Malcolm Saunders.
The couple moved to Ketton in 1984 when he became vicar of St Mary's, and there she co-ordinated a 90-strong group to produce an embroidered Millennium Map which still hangs in the parish church.
Church life, driven by her Christian faith, was her mainstay, and she was elected to serve on the Church's General Synod for the Peterborough diocese from 1995 to 2005.
After Malcolm's retirement, their life in Barrowden began in 2001 where she became involved in the Village Plan which spawned the concept of the shop and community hub.
During her time at the helm of the parish council, Sheila helped introduce the Good Neighbours Scheme to support fellow villagers in need, as well as the Welcome Pack for village newcomers
She was honoured in the Queen's birthdays honours in June 2018 with the British Empire Medal (BEM) for community service to Ketton and Barrowden.
While among her life's proudest moments, Martyn believes individual recognition would not have sat entirely comfortably.
"She would say its lovely to receive an award, but all that she did was encourage others to do things," he said.
"She would want to recognise there was an army of volunteers around her that were willing to get involved.
"Real motivation for mum was building relationships and growing friendships."
Son Aidan added: "The motivation behind all that she did was very much her Christian faith and understanding that God's love and care for us is not just an academic exercise, but is expressed in the community and how we treat each other."