People in Orleton, north of Leominster, have set up the Save Orleton Shop (SOS) group to buy their village shop as a community.

SOS fears that if sold to a private bidder, the shop could be turned into private accommodation, resulting in the loss a popular community asset.

The shop is up for sale as owners Andrew and Gerry Summers, who've run the shop for 20 years, have decided to retire.

A consultation in April identified huge support for retaining a shop in the village, and identified a large number of people who wished to invest money to bring the shop into community ownership.

After a previous offer from a private buyer fell through, a £420,000 bid from SOS has been accepted.

The group estimated it also needs £50,000 in order to start the community business. Therefore, it is aiming to raise a total of £470,000.

Ann Turtle, secretary of SOS, said the shop was an integral part of life in the village.

She said: "It's so essential keeping it going for the village. It has a very central location and is right at the heart of Orleton.

"It's particularly essential for people who don't have a car, as we don't have the most frequent of bus services"

The group is aiming to apply to the government's community ownership fund.

This fund helps community groups in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost.

It would match the amount of money raised by SOS pound-for-pound.

SOS said it needed to raise £235k by October 15 in the first instance in order to apply for the scheme.

Mrs Turtle said the group wanted to emulate the success Yarpole, a nearby village, have had with their own community shop.

She said: "The shop is very highly valued locally so we are now approaching Orleton residents and the wider community to see if we can raise at least half of this sum, prior to setting up as a community benefit society and then exploring what grants and loans we might be eligible for."