Sticklepath villagers presented a couple who run both the local pub and shop with a commemorative plaque on Sunday for being ’covid heroes.’

In a surprise ceremony, villagers gathered at the Taw River Inn to offer the plaque to landlord and landlady, Paul and Sue Jones, who also own the village shop, in appreciation for keeping the shop up and running during covid lockdowns.

West Devon Borough Councillor Lynn Daniel, who lives in the village described the couple as ’our covid heroes’ and said that the village shop had provided good quality groceries for many people who feared going to the supermarket during lockdown.

She added: ’We have got a lot of older people who didn’t want to leave the village and it’s three miles to the nearest town.’

Mr and Mrs Jones had done a lot of work expanding the shop during lockdown, including adding a fresh fruit and veg section.

Villagers said that, despite the difficult circumstances, Mr and Mrs Jones remained cheerful and helpful throughout even though they were losing revenue due to the closing of the pub.

As a sign of their thanks for such a service, Sticklepath villagers gathered together and suggested to the parish council that they give the couple a gift.

Ms Daniel offered £200 from her locality budget to pay for the plaque which consists of a bronze resin relief of the pub and shop mounted on solid wood.

Local sculptor Linsey Dunn created the image out of clay before a mold was made and cast in bronze resin.

When she was approached to make the design, Ms Dunn immediately agreed and decided that the image of the pub and shop was so recognisable to villagers that it was the perfect picture to use.

She said: ’My favourite part is the little post box. I really enjoyed making it.

’They have just done so much for the village. During lockdown I bought everything from them and I still do. I love going in. They are interested in everyone.’

Organisers of the ceremony booked the pub’s dining room on the pretence of celebrating the parish council’s vice-chairman’s birthday.

Instead, invitees snuck into the main pub where vice-chairman Derek Moore presented the plaque to Mr and Mrs Jones in front of the visitors and regulars alike.

Mr Moore then announced that the council had commissioned two plaques, one for the pub and another for the shop.

After the emotional ceremony, Mrs Jones said: ’We have lived here for years and years. You do what you can for your village but it’s the people using the pub and the shop that have kept it alive. We couldn’t have done it without them.’

Organiser Alan Wright explained that one of the reasons the Taw River Inn had been ’kept alive’ was because Mr and Mrs Jones had catered for a wide range of customers.

He said some villagers used the pub but not the shop while others used the shop but not the pub.

Yet, due to the friendliness of the landlords, some Sticklepath villagers had begun to cross the divide and use the Inn’s other service.

It has received such positive reviews that people from nearby villages have started to visit.

Mr and Mrs Jones also have another reason to celebrate with the birth of their granddaughter.