North Walsham shop owner wins Business Person of the Year award

Russ Harmer with his 2021 North Norfolk News Business Person of the Year award

Russ Harmer, who runs two shops in North Walsham, with his 2021 North Norfolk News Business Person of the Year award. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

A North Walsham man who took over a pair of shops from his father-in-law has been named the Business Owner of the Year in the 2021 North Norfolk News Awards.

Russ Harmer, 40, runs the Mundesley Road Stores and Happisburgh Road Stores, part of the Premier franchise of convenience shops, in the town.

Russ Harmer, 40, runs Mundesley Road and Happisburgh Road Stores in North Walsham.

Russ Harmer, 40, runs Mundesley Road and Happisburgh Road Stores in North Walsham. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Mr Harmer said that winning the award was "a bit overwhelming really".

"I was shocked when I got the message I was nominated. It was unexpected," he said.

The other nominees were Melanie Benns of Henry's Coffee in Cromer and Val Howson at North Norfolk Crafts and Gift Shop in Bacton.

Mr Harmer said that running the shops for the last two years has been challenging. At the beginning of the pandemic, they started deliveries and have continued the service for customers who are less mobile.

"I have a fantastic team around me," said Mr Harmer. "I couldn't have done it without the staff. Everyone has been helping out as much as they can."

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He took over the shops from his father-in-law, Charlie Dyke, four years ago, having previously been the manager for ten years - and Mr Harmer said the work is "very satisfying".

"I've always enjoyed helping people. In this job you're always helping people, you're not just serving customers, you're helping people in all different ways.

"The shops are part of the community," he said.

Speaking about concerns around the Omicron variant and the possibility of new restrictions, he said: "You don't know from one day to the next so you just carry on as always. You have to just take every day as it comes."

He also said he wanted to thank all the staff for their hard work and the loyal customers who have stood by the shops.

In 2015, Mr Harmer ran 127 miles from North Walsham to London to take part in the marathon in the capital, a feat which saw him run six marathons in six days.

The epic challenge raised funds for Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, in memory of his wife Vicky's aunt, Helen Plummer.