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A new life in Farndale for village shopkeeper Naomi

Naomi Newton at Farndale village shop. (c) Michelle Maddison
Naomi Newton at Farndale village shop. (c) Michelle Maddison

'I actually feel like I am a character in a book,' says Naomi Newton. 'I read novels like this all the time where a woman goes off somewhere really remote and opens up a little shop and becomes part of a new community. Now, I literally am that person!'

Naomi really is at the heart of the community having taken on the role of community shopkeeper at the newly opened Farndale Store. The former head of catering at Castle Howard made a life changing decision to leave her home and life back in Helmsley to move to the rural dale.

'I had worked at Castle Howard for 16 years and absolutely loved it,' explains Naomi. 'I enjoyed my time there but it got to the point where I thought I need to go while I’m at the top of my game and try something new. I then worked in a clothes shop for four years which I also loved. Then, some friends saw the Farndale Store job advertised in The Lady and couldn’t wait to tell me as they thought it would be perfect for me.'

Great British Life: Naomi's store is full of produce for the community it serves and visitors staying locally. (c) Michelle MaddisonNaomi's store is full of produce for the community it serves and visitors staying locally. (c) Michelle Maddison

The Farndale Estate, which owns the store, also thought she was perfect and she was offered the job, meaning Naomi and her 13-year-old son, Michael, packed their bags and headed to the dale to start a new life.

After just a few months in Farndale, Naomi and Michael have settled right into country life. 'This just gives us both a lovely way of life,' says Naomi. 'The ethos of the Estate is incredible and that is what I bought into - they really do want to restore the dale for future generations.'

Farndale, in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, is home to 180 residents. Famous for its annual spring display of wild daffodils, it offers a bucolic beauty all year round.

Great British Life: Naomi lives just a few steps away from the shop so she's a proper old-fashioned 'shopkeeper' (c) Michelle MaddisonNaomi lives just a few steps away from the shop so she's a proper old-fashioned 'shopkeeper' (c) Michelle Maddison

For the past 20 years it has been without a local shop but that has all changed with the opening of Farndale Store. A former derelict building in the hamlet of Low Mill is now the village shop with accommodation attached and it is something straight out of a luxury homes magazine.

With stone walls and muted green tones inside, the store is lined with shelf after shelf of food, drinks and gifts as well as essentials, leaving customers spoilt for choice. Much of the produce on sale is locally sourced, both from within Farndale Estate itself, along with goods from across North Yorkshire. Aberdeen Angus beef is on sale from a tenant farmer on the Estate as well as heather honey from a local beekeeper.

Open seven days a week, the store also has an alcohol licence and stocks an impressive range of beers, wine, gin and whisky - mostly locally produced, including the Filey Bay Whisky!

Great British Life: Well-stocked shelves in the good-looking store. (c) Michelle MaddisonWell-stocked shelves in the good-looking store. (c) Michelle Maddison

The Estate is also home to a number of luxury self-catering cottages and guests now have the store on their doorstep to buy everything they need for their stay. One guest, who was staying with his family, visited the shop every day of their break, indulging in a daily lemon curd ice cream as well as stocking up on the basics.

Residents across the Farndale are delighted to have a local store once again. Naomi says: 'Everyone has been so, so welcoming. The people living in the Dale are fiercely protective of the store and they have totally embraced myself and Michael which is just lovely.

'On my first weekend here I had such a busy time as everyone turned out to see what the new store was like. I seemed to sell ice-creams all weekend but unfortunately I had bought the world’s most rubbish ice-cream scoop which made things tricky. I put a little note about it on the Farndale Facebook group and the next day lots of residents brought me scoops to help me out. How lovely is that! I knew straight away that I had made the right move.'

Great British Life: Farndale is well-known for its springtime show of daffodils but is a popular destination all year round. (c) Michelle MaddisonFarndale is well-known for its springtime show of daffodils but is a popular destination all year round. (c) Michelle Maddison

A mixture of residents, walkers and cyclists patronise the store and catering for such a wide range of customers is no mean feat when it comes to knowing what to stock. A look at the shelves will have your mouth watering with jars of jam made by Mercers of Yorkshire and chutneys from Puckett’s Pickles alongside packets of Yorkshire Pasta Company fusilli. Farmhouse biscuits and Ryeburn ice creams can satisfy a sweet tooth and you can pamper yourself thanks to soaps and potions from Noble Isle. Alongside all these goodies are the daily necessities such as toothpaste and washing powder.

It’s all a learning curve for Naomi who is loving the challenge. 'I find ordering the stock really exciting and I am always adding things to the list,' she says. 'Only the other day I needed dishwasher tablets and realised we didn’t stock them. That was dishwasher tablets added to the list!

She adds: 'I am very conscious that I don’t want to be the ‘posh’ shop. I want it to be a real community shop. The idea is that I am almost like the face of Farndale and I encourage people to come in and have a coffee at the counter. That means a lot to me and I feel that people have met each other here and often at weekends the outside seating area is full of people having an ice-cream or coffee and chatting away with each other.'

Great British Life: Naomi loves her social life in the village. (c) Michelle MaddisonNaomi loves her social life in the village. (c) Michelle Maddison

The pace and way of life is something 46 year-old Naomi is relishing. 'I have to keep pinching myself. I have the most beautiful view from the shop window and my son and I often walk down to the river in the evening. There are two barn owls which love to hunt in the long grass and you can just sit and watch. You don’t need a TV here - just look outside. I feel that Farndale is such a restorative place and I know a lot of the holiday cottage guests feel the same way. Many who have been here this summer have already booked again for next year as they really feel like they properly switch off and relax when they are here.'

The commute to work is also less stressful than before. With Naomi’s cottage attached to the shop, she has a walk of four steps at the start and end of each working day. 'The Estate definitely wanted to bring back the old fashioned way of shop keeping so we are open every day and I live here too.'

The school run is covered too as Naomi explains. 'Michael gets picked up outside the door by one of the farmers and taken to school. Often, the farmer is on his way to market so there is a trailer on the back with livestock. After school, Michael has joined the local cricket club and has already played a few matches. He absolutely loves it and I feel he has gained confidence and it’s a very natural way of learning etiquette.'

After two decades without a local shop, the residents of Farndale and visitors to the Dale are flocking there. It is considered far more than just a shop. It is at the heart of the community and there for the community. Seven days a week!



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