A traditional Suffolk village shop is still going strong - 40 years after the current owners' father died suddenly from a heart attack.

John Heeks, who runs grocery and convenience store A R Heeks in Lavenham with his sister Anne Churchard, recalled the dilemma the family faced as to whether to open the shop the day after the death of their father, Clifford Heeks, who had been running the business since 1969.

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He said the family did decide to open and the Market Place shop was still standing, despite having to overcome numerous challenges, including the impact of the Covid pandemic.

He added the business still aimed to provide the same standard of service as when it was started by his grandfather Alfred Heeks in the 1920s.

"Shopkeeping has always been a hard, difficult job. It is not a get rich quick job, but we are providing a service within the village, which my forebears have done and I am proud to continue and we are trying to do it as well as we can," Mr Heeks said.

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His nephew Chris Churchard is also involved with the business and helps it deal with the technological changes that have taken place, while the store now does more home deliveries for older customers who have stopped visiting since the COVID crisis.

Nonetheless, the store has also had to face the difficulties caused by the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy bills.

"Energy costs are crippling at this time and there is very little help from the Government. We are in it for the long haul and not for the short term gain," Mr Heeks added.

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But he said his store had survived by providing a more personal service, which supermarkets lacked and customers valued.

"We try and provide quality and service. We try and be a friendly face, whereas the supermarkets are impersonal. We try and provide a good service. It is quite old fashioned in that respect," Mr Heeks said.

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