Mundesley man wins national shop assistant award
He began as an unpaid work experience helper trying to build a career, but David Tustain's progress to running his village store when the bosses are away has seen him named the nation's top corner shop sales assistant.
The 29-year-old from Mundesley began at the Mace store 100 yards from his front door six years ago on a short placement as he sought to find a job through a back-to-work scheme.
He immediately felt at home, enjoyed the work, and after gaining qualifications and experience has now beaten thousands of other people across the country to the title of Sales Assistant of the Year in an awards scheme run by the Convenience Store magazine.
Mr Tustain, who had already won his independent branded category, was announced as the overall winner at a ceremony at London's Dorchester Hotel, hosted by TV presenter Anthea Turner.
'It was a blur. People were taking pictures, and I had to make a thank you speech,' he said.
The man from Walthamstow in London moved to north Norfolk in 2000 following in the footsteps of his sister, but was keen to find a settled career after having a string of jobs including at a printers and market stall.
'I did work experience at a bookshop when I was at school, so that must have been what sowed the retail seed,' he explained.
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During a Gateway to Work course he also did some work experience at Cash Converters but then switched to his local shop.
'I was supposed to work here for a month but I never left!' he smiled.
After the early unpaid shelf-stacking he worked his way through GNVQ qualifications to level 3 in retail management.
He learned how to do the morning newspapers and stock ordering.
Mr Tustain said: 'I really love the work. I know everyone in the village and they're not just customers, they're friends.'
He delivers groceries to elderly or infirm customers who are unable to leave their homes, and has helped boost the success of the store by changing layout and displays to promote offers and seasonal goods.
David has also staged community money-raising events including raffles and pumpkin carving.
When owners Derek and Lou Balding recently went on holiday they were happy to leave him in charge - and nominated him for the award, where judges were impressed by his energy, commitment to the community, and willingness to implement new ideas.
Julia Maunder, from Mace said: 'We're so proud of David and all he has achieved. He is a role model to other sales assistants out there.'
Mr Tustain added: 'This award means everything to me. It's been six years of hard work, but it's been more than worth it. This is my calling. It took a while to find it, but now that I have, I'll never leave.
'I am here for the long haul as a way of paying Derek and Lou back. In the long term owning my own shop is a dream that would be brilliant.'