Shropshire Star

Shop owner's despair at heartbreaking decision to close beloved business - as he wins an award for it

A village shop's dedicated owner has made the heartbreaking decision to close the award-winning business he has been involved with for the last decade - as he picked up a prestigious prize.


Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276

Duncan Borthwick, who only on Tuesday night won a prize at the Countryside Alliance awards, admits to have felt so depressed by the pending decision to close the doors at Llanymynech Village Shop that he aimed to take his own life.

But the 42-year-old, who is married to Paul Gardiner, turned around to pick up the pieces of his dream and explore other options as he takes his life forward. He had been working at the shop for 10 years before buying it a few years ago.

Welsh champion Duncan Borthwick

Duncan explained that he had explored all options to keep the only shop in the Welsh village open but could not continue when his takings have halved; dropping by £10,000 a month in the cost of living crisis.

And when facing cut-price competition from supermarkets and online retailers, he says there is no other option but to tie up all the loose ends and close the doors on Good Friday, March 29.

Local supporters of the business have set up a JustGiving page to help pay Duncan's landlord for the remaining time on his lease.

He said: "I would like to say I did not ask for this, but am truly humbled by my community and the support they have given me, the love they have shown and the lengths they are willing to go to prove to me I’m not a failure."

He added that he has thought of everything to try to keep going but is facing brutal headwinds. One is the cost of living crisis, which has stripped spare pennies from the purses of customers, and the other is his lease is coming to an end soon anyway.

"Two factors have played an enormous part in this," he said.

"One being the cost of living crisis and people have no money to spend.

"We are outcompeted by the supermarkets at every turn and I can’t come near their prices in the slightest.

"People are struggling to the extent that they choose between heating their homes and eating."

He added that even if a "miracle" happens and the cost of living crisis eases there is a second factor.

"My lease is not going to be renewed at the end of my tenancy, because the landlord wishes to sell the premises in its entirety. I imagine he has extortionate costs in this current climate too.

"This means that even if the above miracle does occur, I would be without a premises in two years."

Even if there is a community buyout of the building it still doesn’t solve the fact that the overheads would still be too high for such a drop in footfall.

"I approached my landlord and agreed to end the lease early - we are operating at a figure of £10,00 per month down on last year, with bills and costs going in the opposite direction," he said.

"I could limp on until the end of the lease, but I got myself in debt to purchase my place of work to keep it for the village, to keep it independent, and to keep it at the heart of the community, and as the economy shows no sign of easing for the average person on the street.

"I am unwilling to take on further debt to keep it open until the end of the lease only to walk away with nothing."

Duncan brought the business just before the start of the Ukraine war and costs started to skyrocket, he said.

He said he is not ashamed to say he contemplated and took steps to end his own life a few weeks ago.

"The devastation I felt about letting my community down, and seeing no way out or any way of making it better, and the shame and utter helplessness felt by myself - as with many small businesses at present - led me there," he said.

"It was the support of my husband, my family, and my community that brought me back from that."

As the business is now in its final days it is still celebrating winning the Best Village Shop/Post Office in Wales, in the Countryside Alliance Rural Oscars at a ceremony at the Senedd in Cardiff. They will be heading to the House of Lords for the National Awards.

Duncan said: "I am beyond proud to have won this, not just for myself and the community work I have done, but my staff and former staff share this honour too; in particular my mother Mandy (Kitchen Pixie), and Louise.

"I thank everyone who voted for us, and the judges for awarding us this honour."

He added: "When we’re gone, eaten up by Amazon or Tesco, our communities lose their uniqueness."

He added: "If people saw the work that we all put into our businesses, behind the scenes and publicly, saw the financial struggles we go through, and felt the pain we feel when we have to make really difficult decisions that deeply affect our communities.

"If people got away from thinking 'You must be rolling in it'. If people saw, felt, and understood all of this, they would see that we are fighters, that we really are doing our best, have done our best and will continue to do our best against all odds.

"A lot of us will fall at the hurdles, but we are never failures, and should never think of ourselves that way."

See the crowdfunding page at

* Whatever you're going through, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit to find your nearest branch.

*Samaritans also say sometimes writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you understand them better.