VILLAGERS have rallied to help save their post office by buying £10 stakes in the business.

People in Stillington, near Easingwold, have bought more than 200 shares in a co-operative, in the hope of raising enough money to buy the shop.

If they succeed, any profits made by the post office would be put back into the community.

The move is in addition to a loan from a local bank. Grants have also been applied for, and gifts and loans of money have been offered by people living in the area.

It is hoped the community will be able to find the £135,000 asking price for the business before the end of next month.

Action group Stillington Community Association Limited was formed after postmistress Jenny Nesbit and her husband, Stan, said years of poor returns had forced them to sell.

A survey of the village's 1,380 residents devised ways to improve the shop to offer a better service and help secure its survival.

Harry Silcock, a member of the co-operative, said: "We have drawn up a business plan which has been well received by the bank.

"We need to improve the post office, refit it and stock new products. We could sell items such as wine and ready meals, and perhaps buy a photocopier that the village can use.

"There's been a terrific response from the community to make it happen, community spirit is very strong. I'm very hopeful that we'll do it."