A POST office and village shop run by volunteers is set to move into brand new premises in time for Christmas after winning a £95,000 lottery grant.

The community benefit society behind the facility currently operating out of a bungalow in Saxon Close, Oake, now hopes to start work on an extension to the village hall within the next month.

The windfall from the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund means the society is looking for just another £4,500 to reach its £140,000 target to finance the move.

Society chairman Alex Antill said: "We're delighted.

"We've been struggling to raise the funds for about 18 months and to finally get within striking distance of starting the building is very exciting.

"We would hope to start building within the next month and moving in by Christmas is a realistic target at the moment.

"There's a lot to do and we have only really just started.

"The new building will be about 50 per cent bigger than the existing shop. That will give us considerable scope to expand the business and increase the products we sell."

Fundraising continues apace - just last Saturday the white elephant stall at Oake Fete raised £321 to boost the new hall kitty and the committee has plenty of ideas for bringing in more cash.

The shop is staffed by a team of volunteers, while three trained and paid staff are employed behind the counter of the post office in the bungalow, which the owner plans to sell once the business moves out.

Society chairman Diana Charlton said: "Volunteers on the committee, behind the counter and behind the scenes have worked hard to safeguard the future of the shop and post office at a time when local communities are sadly seeing their facilities being withdrawn.

"Even the post offices in our towns are subject to uncertainty – look what has been happening in Taunton and Wellington.

"We still have a long way to go, with lots of planning, work and fundraising, but, with the continued support of our community, we will achieve a new improved facility of which we can all be proud.

"It's really good news that the lottery grant has been confirmed. We're so excited that we'll be on the side of the village hall - it's a community hub, with a lot going on there."