By Barbara Dumphy

A TRADITIONAL hardware store in Great Ayton has just won a gold award in a national competition.

Richard Thompson, who owns Thompsons Hardware, one of Great Ayton’s most popular and longest-running stores, won the national hardware retailer of the year award at a ceremony in Coventry, organised by DIY Week.

Mr Thompson said he was over the moon about the award.

“We were told last month that we were in the running for the silver, but to win this gold award is fantastic and I’m just really proud and delighted,” he said.

The hardware store, which sells everything from screwdrivers and nuts and bolts to seed potatoes and garden equipment, has a loyal following in the village with customers praising Mr Thompson for running a traditional hardware store with friendly service and where everything is available from light bulbs to birthday gifts.

“If he doesn’t have it in the shop, Richard will order it for the next day,” said one customer.

“It’s really great for the community to have a store like that right on our doorstep.”

Opened in 1957 by Mr Thompson’s father, Billy, the store has been a mainstay of Great Ayton for almost 50 years and recently moved premises from the High Street to Park Square, opposite a traditional fruit and vegetable shop and Worthy Pearson’s, the newsagent.

Mr Thompson said: “My father used to be a cabinet maker. In 1957 he started up the shop in his own name on Newton Road, Great Ayton, after he was made redundant.

“In 1971, the business was doing so well my dad had the chance to move to Great Ayton High Street. The shop was still called Billy Thompson’s until five or six years ago.”

Mr Thompson came into the business straight from school when the shop was still on the High Street and rented from the Co-operative Group.

“When the group decided to expand their shop in the High Street, it was a case of either calling it a day or moving to somewhere else” Mr Thompson explained.

As well as running the store, the Thompsons, who have four children, have done a great deal of fundraising for Yorkshire Cancer Research, raising more than £10,000 in the past 15 years by doing the Great North Run. Their daughter, Harriett, has also tackled the Great North Swim twice for the same charity.

Three years ago Mr and Mrs Thompson were invited to a royal garden party because of their fundraising where they chatted to Prince Charles.

Now the couple’s son, Henry, 22, is coming into the business, working alongside his father at H Thompson Services.