LYME Regis cheesemonger Justin Tunstall is feeling really “grate” after winning a national award.

Mr Tunstall, otherwise known as the Town Mill Cheesemonger, was crowned the cream-cheese of the crop in the Farm Shop and Deli Awards “Cheesemonger of the Year” category.

There were nearly 300 entries nationwide for the competition and the Town Mill Cheesemonger was one of 12 winners in the separate categories.

Mr Tunstall said: “Wow. There are some truly great cheese shops in the UK, so it's a real honour to come first in this competition.

“I blushed as I read some of the comments on the awards nominations from the regular customers, without whom our business wouldn't exist.

“We try to treat every customer as though they are a 'mystery shopper' and I'm so proud of my staff who, as with all our visitors, ensured that the expert who judged us came away having had a great experience and clutching some outstanding cheeses.

“The win will put a real spring in our steps when we reopen on February 13, after our winter break.”

The awards were designed to celebrate the unsung heroes of the high street and speciality retail scene, with categories ranging from butchers to garden centres.

After being shortlisted, they were judged by a panel of experts and were visited by mystery shoppers to test them out.

Nigel Barden, chairman of the judges, said: “It's gratifying to know that there are so many excellent purveyors of food and drink in Britain, like the Town Mill Cheesemonger “During the mystery visits I have been delighted, moved and inspired by the people I've met and it's inspiring to find the Town Mill Cheesemonger is so much at the heart of its community.”

The Town Mill Cheesemonger will now go head to head with the other 12 winners to compete for the overall Retailer of the Year, with the winner announced on March 24, at a glitzy ceremony in Birmingham.

Neil Nugent, executive chef and head of product development at national supermarket chain, Morrison's and was also on the judging panel, said “The awards are a brilliant opportunity for the UK's small independent businesses like Town Mill Cheesemonger to get recognition nationally and enable them to become a destination.”