IT’S been many decades since anyone has ventured down Twyford’s Queen Street in search of a retail opportunity. That would have been back in the days of the Volunteer Inn, on the corner of The Drove. But now, partly as a result of Covid, a shop has opened, tucked away opposite the long-closed pub.

It’s called The Shed, and on the day the Chronicle passed by, owner Penny Tompkins was replenishing the shelves.

A 42-year-old mother-of-four, Penny has a strong and clear rationale for opening the shop: “With lockdown in full swing, the pressure of more home-schooling and a general sense of negativity, I felt that if I could do something to lighten my own mood, as well as others, then it was worth doing.”

Penny, a food technology technician at Thornden School, said: “I love to bake and to make things, so I decided to do it for the village, somewhere that has a great community spirit. I wanted to create something that could be a positive focal point in the village, something to help local parents encourage their children out of the house for walks. Walkers and locals can stop off for a flapjack, cake, pasty or sausage roll for their lunch.”

It works on a cash-only honesty box system with the money going back into creating more items and products. The Shed is registered with the city council as a food business.

Reaction to the opening has been swift and enthusiastic. “It’s only been open a short time, but the positivity towards the things I’m making and selling has been brilliant.”

Is this a long-term business or more something to cheer people up during tough times? “We don’t know how long this lockdown will last,” says Penny, “but I’m pleased that The Shed will be there for locals and those passing through whilst we’re stuck in our houses.”

Post lockdown, I’ll continue for weekends and special occasions. I’ve really enjoyed combining my love of baking with this special village, and hearing so many positive comments makes it all worthwhile.”