A VILLAGE shop which is a finalist in national Rural Oscars is opening a cafe to become a community and arts hub.

Woods of Whitchurch in south Herefordshire is opening Woodys above the shop to sell lunches and cakes, but will also run community events.

Owner Lucy Gardner took over the shop in Whitchurch in 2011 after first coming across it in 2009 when she came to visit her parents in Ross-on-Wye.

Since then she has built up a loyal customer base and this year the shop is a finalist in the village shop category for England in the Countryside Alliance Rural Oscars.

Lucy has always wanted to open a cafe in what was her sitting room and bedroom, and it will open its doors at the beginning of April.

She said: "It is about community. It is about people coming and sitting and spending time together and having a chat."

Lucy, who runs the shop with her husband Trevor Kingdon, will host community events at the cafe, including a children's storytime, a book club and Sunday afternoon jazz.

She also wants to run a weekly friendship cafe for people who need support for friends or loved ones suffering from a memory related illness or loneliness.

Lucy has also asked artists from the area to display their work on the walls.

Amanda Hamilton from Ross-on-Wye was commissioned to paint the front of the shop to go in the cafe above the fireplace, and more of her artwork adorns the walls.

She said: "When I see Lucy in action, you are not coming into a shop with an austere shopkeeper and businesswoman, you are coming into a place where someone genuinely cares about the person that is there.

"I have never seen someone walk in here and Lucy not had the time for them."

Work by Marie Seton, Nette Ingram and Sian Gibbs will also be displayed.

It will also be a venue during H.art and Forest and Valley Open Studios.

Initially Woodys will be open every day until 5pm but once they are up and running they will stay open into the evening.