GRAND plans are in store for a South Woodford Christian bookshop saved from closure.

Wesley Owen Books and Music was faced with shutting down at the end of last year after the charity that ran the chain, IBS STL, went into administration.

But it was recently announced that the Nationwide Christian Trust (NCT), an organisation based in Ongar, Essex offering various Christian resources, would be taking over up to 20 of the shops across the UK, including South Woodford.

Reverend Andy Twilley, director of Christian life and ministry at the NCT, said: “We believe it would be a terrible loss to our high streets for these retail outlets to close.

“That’s why, since the beginning of the year, we’ve been actively exploring the possibility of what part we can play in saving these shops.”

Wesley Owen will become Living Oasis and will be completely revamped to coincide with the NCT’s vision for the store.

Rev Twilley added: “With Living Oasis, the vision behind that title will be to provide a Christian presence on the high street, connecting with Christians and non-Christians.”

Plans are currently in place to move to larger premises to accommodate a coffee shop, lounge and children’s area.

Rev Twilley said: “We want these shops to be dynamic places of refreshment and renewal.”

The NCT is also a charity and still relies on donations from the public to help fund its work.

Cash raised by churchgoers and customers, which totalled about £40,000, has been passed on to the NCT to fund restocking and remodelling the South Woodford shop.

The much-loved shop was at the centre of a hard-fought campaign to stay open and regulars last week spoke of their relief that it would not close (February 4).

It has also been proposed that the shop become a place for prayer meetings, youth groups and other community activities.

Rev Twilley said: “These shops should offer more than just static resources.

“We believe they should become centres of mission in the community.”

The store is expected to reopen within two weeks once restocking is complete and former Wesley Owen staff will remain in place for the time being.

They are in talks to secure their jobs once the transformation from Wesley Owen to Living Oasis is complete.

Manager Dominic Stinchcombe was ceremonially handed back the keys to the shop at a special public meeting last week at All Saints’ Church, Woodford Green.