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Beans and salvation on offer at store

PUBLISHED: 16:15 13 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:51 03 March 2010

VISITING a vicar at your local supermarket is not top of everyone's shopping list – but the trend is catching on at Ipswich's Asda store.

Father Paul Bourner has been fulfilling a two-hour Sunday slot at the store, in Goddard Road, for more than three months and his popularity is growing.

VISITING a vicar at your local supermarket is not top of everyone's shopping list – but the trend is catching on at Ipswich's Asda store.

Father Paul Bourner has been fulfilling a two-hour Sunday slot at the store, in Goddard Road, for more than three months and his popularity is growing.

His "friendly shoulder" approach has gone down well with staff and customers alike in a scheme that is extending to Asda stores nationwide.

The move has gained acceptance from the Keep Sundays Special Campaign, despite their objection to Sunday opening.

"It's got to be a personal decision bearing in mind these stores are now open, said campaign manager John Alexander.

"There's very little we can do to stop stores opening and I don't think we can object to him wanting to help people."

For Father Bourner, of St Thomas's Church, in Bramford Lane, Ipswich, the slot helps him branch out into the community and meet people.

"You can't turn the clock back (to when stores couldn't open on Sundays) and if you could many people still wouldn't come to church so I go to Asda, he said.

"Doing a chaplaincy in a place like Asda is front line ministry because you don't know what to expect. It's all about being available and I think it's brilliant."

Each week, Father Bourner takes his place in the restaurant area of the supermarket and an announcement is made over the tannoy advising customers of his presence.

He estimates around three or four people sometimes come over to talk to him during his slot. A private room is also available for sensitive matters to be discussed.

Lorraine Bolt, events co-ordinator of Asda, said: "We've had quite good feedback from customers and colleagues about the scheme.

"He's very approachable and his popularity is growing. He isn't in your face but he's available if people want to talk to him."

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk


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