A SUPERMARKET in Stow-on-the-Wold celebrated its 20th birthday by opening a community room.

Tesco on Fosse Way launched the special facility on Friday for use by the public as a way of further strengthening its links with the local community.

Clare Peaston, community champion at the store, said: “It’s going to be for groups and organisations to hire to use free of charge. It holds up to 16 people, so it’s only for small groups.”

She said it is largely for groups that are “struggling to find somewhere, or can’t afford to book somewhere” with the first booking being a committee meeting of Great Rissington Archers.

“We chose to open it today because it's the 20th anniversary of the store opening, so we thought it would be a good birthday present to the store.

“The community room has been in the planning since July,” said Clare, who joined the store just a few weeks after it opened in October 1997.

At the launch, Rebecca Herringshaw, enabler for the store’s Bags of Help (BoH) scheme, which provides grants of up to £4,000 to community projects, was on hand to tell members of the public about the new facility and ongoing scheme.

The funding for BoH is generated through carrier bag sales, with customers given a token to select which of three selected causes, which change every two months, is most worthy of the funding.

“There's lots of groups that need funding but not many people go through the process and that is money Tesco wants to give away,” said Clare.

The launch also provided an opportunity to tell people about Tesco’s Farm to Fork trails.

“Children from local schools and children's groups can come into store or we can go to them and it's just educating children about where their food comes from and what they're eating,” said Clare.

“It doesn't apply as much round here, but in certain towns and cities children aren't going to know that milk comes from a cow.

The teaching is around sustainability and what's a good balanced healthy meal to eat.”

On display at the store were also photos from across the last 20 years, while a video showing the launch in 1997 was played, before a wine and cheese evening was held in the community room.