A NEWSAGENT is handing over the reins of his Berry Hill business after serving the community for the last 25 years.

Eamonn Evans plans to ‘go see the world’.

And he said: “I never thought when we sold our house to come to Berry Hill News in 1992 that I’d still be here 25 years later, but it’s been a colourful ride and the years have flown by.”

He is handing over the convenience store and Post Office to mum-of-two Val Stacey, 53, from Christchurch, who has been working alongside him learning the business since last July.

“I love the early mornings, getting up at 5am to get the papers in and sort out the delivery rounds, and I know I’ll miss it,” said Mr Evans.

“But while I still enjoy the job, serving the community, I’m away quite a lot, and it’s time to hand on to someone else. I wish Val every success for the future.”

Mr Evans, who is originally from Lydbrook, has lived in Berry Hill since 1985, when he used to do a bread round that included delivering to the newsagents store.

“That’s how I got to know the shop, when it used to be based next door,” he said.

“The previous owners kept asking me whether I’d be interested in taking the business on and eventually I said ‘yes’ in 1992.”

He said it had been a pleasure to serve the community for a quarter of a century, and added: “I want to say a special thank you to staff and customers, past and present, who have helped make Berry Hill News such a success. Also a special thanks to my son Don, who will still be involved here.”

When the village Post Office closed in 2010, the store opened a Post oOffice counter.

But Mr Evans noted that it was only the ‘continued support’ of residents that would guarantee the store’s future at the heart of the village.

“Over the years the business has changed so much,” he said. “We now provide Post Office and PayPoint services, which makes the store extremely busy, but these companies pay very small commissions, so we still rely heavily on the continued support of the community as a grocery and convenience store, which will enable the village to have a shop for many years to come.

“We rely on local trade and a bit from the campsite, particularly in the summer – people have been very friendly and pleasant and it’s been a pleasure to serve them.”

New owner Val Stacey said: “I worked here 10 years ago, then came back in July with a view to taking on the business. I’ve always worked in retail, and I’m really looking forward to taking over here.

“I know the business, but stepping up to run it will be a challenge. But the customers are great, love a chat and we have a good laugh.”