THE owners of a friendly local shop where the service is “second to none” have been named as two of York’s unsung heroes.

Shopkeepers Helen and Stephen Weston live above their business and work at Macrae’s First Stop in Huntington Road, going out of their way to look after their customers and make sure they have everything they need.

The shop has been put forward by Stephen’s daughter, Jodie, who said: “Helen and Stephen are the most genuine friendly people you will ever meet.

“They work all hours here, and I work Sundays for them so they can have one day off.”

Helen has owned the shop for around 20 years, and she and Stephen have recently celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary.

Regular customers pay tribute to the couple’s friendliness and care.

Jodie said: “Everyone who comes in here is familiar. It’s all faces we know, and everyone will tell you how friendly Helen and Stephen are.”

The couple’s commitment to the business and their customers has not wavered in the many years Helen has been at the shop, even though last year Stephen was at work when the shop was targeted by armed robbers.

Despite the ordeal, he has carried on working in the shop and looking after their regular customers.

The Service with a Smile award is for York businesses with outstanding customer care, or charities that operate for the benefit of people in the city.

It is one of three group categories in the awards - the others going to the Primary School Project of the Year and Community Project of the Year.

Since the Community Pride awards launched in March nominations have flooded in to the Press’s offices speaking of the dedicated and inspirational people of York who give their time and energy to making life better for others.

But the judges still want to hear about the Primary School Projects and Community Projects the people of York want to see praised.

The Primary School Project award goes to work - which can be an ongoing project - which has improved its surroundings or the environment.

The Community Project award is for an informal voluntary group, and last year saw the York Foodbank praised for its work to help people who had fallen on hard times, while community gardens, cafes and tree planting projects were also shortlisted.

For more information on any of the Community Pride awards, which are sponsored by Benenden Health, go to