Shropshire Star

South Shropshire bookshop wins regional title against 'competitive' field of entrants

A south Shropshire bookshop has been dubbed the best in the region for the year.

Deborah Alma of The Poetry Pharmacy in Bishop's Castle

The Poetry Pharmacy in Bishop’s Castle has been crowned Independent Bookshop of the Year for the Midlands in The British Book Awards.

The store was set up five years ago by 'Emergency Poet' Deborah Alma - well-known for dispensing reading remedies for those needing a bit of a pick me up.

Selected by the judges from 77 finalists announced last month, the award, sponsored by book wholesaler Gardners, celebrates those bookshops that continue to support local communities with creative, specialist and community-centred activities.

Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller managing editor, said: “This has been amongst the most competitive Independent Bookshop of the Year judging process since the award was conceived.

"Not just in the record number of overall submissions, but in the sheer unbelievable quality of literally every shop that entered.

"Getting down to these nine regional and country winners was a very difficult process. Indie bookshops across the UK and Ireland are thriving and have met the very difficult recent trading conditions with creativity and cutting-edge innovation.

"What is truly cheering is that we see this in new shops that have popped up since the pandemic to venerable stores which have been trading for decades.

"In the last few years I have been calling this period an indie bookshop renaissance, but I think we have gone beyond that, we are in the golden age.”

The stunning store in Bishop's Castle bills itself as the world’s first pharmacy prescribing poems to the public.

It put on more than 100 events in 2023 including open-mic nights and bibliotherapy sessions, launched collaborations with lifestyle brands like Lush, and ran a three-month pop-up in Soho.