RIGHT at the heart of Ilminster’s town centre is a shop which has been running for more than 20 years.

The Silver Street Dairy is the absolute definition of a local business.

As well as its prime location by the Market House, the shop is owned by local Caroline Speke, employs four other people who live in the town, and is a champion for West Country products.

“In September this year I will have been running the shop for five years,” said Caroline.

“I bought the business as a going concern, and prior to that it had been part of the community for 16 years.

“I enjoy it and I relish the fact that we are a part of this town.”

In 2017, the business was forced to closed for seven weeks after devastating floods hit the town.

Water swept through the town during flash floods, and Caroline’s neighbours were forced to close their doors too.

Caroline added: “We put in a lot of work to come back from that, and we are very much proud to be part of a community.

“I have four staff with me and we are all Ilminster people. We have continued the sort of history of the business.

“We are very much community based and we have ongoing customers who have been with us for many years.”

Caroline also owns and runs the Gift Barn, at Jordan’s Courtyard in Horton.

Both her businesses work with local traders to get the best of the South West.

“In the dairy, we try and champion local products, we use West Country cheeses, and a lot of our products are homemade on site by staff,” she said.

“The whole purpose of the gift barn is to fully champion West Country makers and products. We champion artisan products that you won’t get everywhere, and I am really proud of it.”

When asked what makes the town special, the answer was clear for Caroline.

“Community – that is the backbone of Ilminster.

“I believe it is the community-minded people reinvesting in their own town, trying to keep the town thriving, whether that is through business, charitable or community groups.

“The town as a whole looks to promote Ilminster and what it has to offer. It is the community that makes the town.”