SHOPS closing down is an everyday threat to the biggest town centres and side streets alike, which many communities are finding impossible to prevent.

But 25 years ago this month, villagers in Harefield fought back to save their beloved Co-op from extinction, in a real victory for community action.

The Co-op was on the verge of closure in April 1984 after failing to make enough money to keep it going, but villagers desperate not to lose out on a most valuable asset were hearing none of it.

They petitioned their local councillors and the Co-op itself, planning to set up their own village Co-op if it could not be saved.

Villagers argued that closure would have a seriously damaging effect on those unable to do their shopping outside the village.

Pauline Crawley, chairwoman of the Harefield Tenants and Residents Association who has lived in the village since 1977, said: "It would have been a big blow to lose it - it was our main supermarket.

"It provided the majority of things which people needed and was a real good community shop."

The Tenants and Residents Association at the time petitioned the Greater London Council and sought funding to keep the shop going which was eventually awarded.

A public meeting was held and attended by more than 80 people, all determined to save their supermarket.

Officials from the Co-op's regional offices also attended the meeting and agreed in principle to help the villagers set up and run their own supermarket.

Local councillor at the time Don Mitchell backed the campaign, writing personally to the head office of the Co-op asking them to reconsider their decision to close the store down.

He argued that a supermarket like the Co-op was necessary and closure would bring hardship to old people and young families in the village and that because the population of Harefield was growing it needed a shop like it.

Mrs Crawley said: "We managed to save the store, its amazing what you can do when you get together and campaign."

The site of the Co-op in Harefield High Street has been preserved as a supermarket ever since, and is now a Spar, but at the end of last year in December, a familiar name returned to the village with a new Co-op also opening in the High Street.

Mrs Crawley added: "I think people are really pleased with the store, it has quite a lot of variety in it."News of the villagers fightback made front page news of the Uxbridge Gazette in April 1984, which was before Harefield even had its own edition.