A Royal Celebration at Benenden's

A Royal Celebration at Benenden’s!

Benenden's Managers, Volunteers, Shareholders & Supporters and Customers were delighted to welcome HRH Countess of Wessex to the shop on 1st November.

On arrival The Lord-Lieutenant presented Cllr David Neve (Mayor of Tunbridge Wells), William Benson (Chief Executive, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council), Helen Grant MP and Martin Pexton who chairs the Benenden Community Shop Committee.

Martin introduced the managers - Melanie Harris, Susan Butchers, Viv Sheppard, Lorraine Charsley and Penny Roberts, who were accompanied by Samantha Price, Headmistress of Benenden School.


The five managers are supported by over 40 regular volunteers, some of whom were on hand to join in the celebration, including Adeira Ariez and Natasha Wyke who represented the girls from Benenden School.

Over tea and cake, the Countess heard about the enthusiasm and hard work which has made the project happen from a group of customers who are long-standing residents - George Jordan (aged 96), Roma Marshall, and Miriam & Phillip Message.

Following a brief overview of the story of the shop, the Countess unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit and the celebration of the official opening.

Lucy Hodges (aged 12) presented the Countess with a posy. 

Martin Pexton said: “The visit of Her Royal Highness was a very special way to celebrate the success of our community shop, which has been achieved through the hard work and enthusiasm ‎of many members of our community.”

Benenden School Headmistress Samantha Price said: “We are proud to have played a role in securing this wonderful asset on behalf of the community, and it was a great honour for everyone’s hard work to be recognised by HRH Countess of Wessex today.”