The Southern Co-op has demonstrated its commitment to local communities after donations from four of its branches helped save a Dorset family farm from closure.

Each shop donated a total of £3,500 to Fancy’s Farm which opened in 2011. The farm, which relies on donations to operate, saw visits decline due to bad weather.

Kim Daley, manager of one of the Southern Co-op stores in Weymouth which helped save the farm, said: “The farm has an educational facility where they talk about the animals and let the children stroke and feed the animals. They have work experience days for a local group which supports people with learning difficulties.

Negative gross margins on Co-op own label

“We’re part of an independent, regional co-operative, and have a community programme to support great causes like this. We’re so happy to have been able to help them and hope we can get together for a community day at some point in the future.”

The other stores which helped with the donation were in Bournemouth and Portland.

Farm owner Susan Illsley: “The weather has been so bad this year that it has really impacted the number of visitors and the number of donations. It has been the hardest winter we have ever had.

“We were really thinking about having to close so the donation from Southern Co-op has dug us out of a big hole.”

Focus on fascias and franchises: Southern Co-op