From leading prayers to leading sales, a Norfolk priest has been named shopkeeper of the year.

Reverend Andrew Bevan is the assistant priest for Stalham and Smallburgh Benefices.

And for 18 years, he and his wife Alison have run a business called Brundall Home Hardware, a home and DIY store with a garden centre.

On Tuesday, March 5, his team were named as Broadland Retailer of the Year at The Broadland and South Norfolk Council Business Awards ceremony at Carrow Road in Norwich.

They were also a finalist in the small business of the year category.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Reverend Andrew Bevan runs a hardware store in Brundall with his family. The Reverend Andrew Bevan runs a hardware store in Brundall with his family. (Image: Diocese of Norwich)

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The judges recognised the team’s community involvement and care of those who visit the shop.

Mr Bevan said: “For many years as a family business we have tried to support our local community and to be a central part of village life.

"We have always provided a friendly welcome and extended the hand of support and friendship."

Since his ordination in 2019 as a self-supporting minister, many visitors to the shop have enjoyed the opportunity to share their concerns and to seek a pastoral ear.

"This is not provided just by myself but by the whole team," the reverend said.

Self supporting ministers have undertaken theological training and are ordained as deacons and then priests.

They often combine this role with paid employment in a workplace or volunteering in the community.

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Mr Bevan said: "It is wonderful to be a visible minister in the community, enabling both those familiar with Christianity and those less so, the opportunity to speak in confidence and to seek prayer support.

"It helps to break down some of the invisible barriers to church life and demonstrates the Christian Gospel message is accessible to all."

For some visitors to the shop, being served by a man wearing a dog collar is a novel experience. 

"I do sometimes get some strange looks from new customers," Mr Bevan said.

Details of all the awards winners are on the Broadland Council website.