Dutchman wins bookshop in west Wales raffle draw

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Paul Morris (left) and Ceisjan Van Heerden shake hands in a book shopImage source, Tivyside Advertiser
Image caption,
Outgoing Bookends owner Paul Morris and its new one Ceisjan Van Heerden

As far as raffle prizes go, they do not come much bigger, or as surreal, as the one offered by Paul Morris.

The 57-year-old book store owner gave customers the chance to win his shop Bookends in west Wales along with its contents if they spent more than £20.

Mr Morris, who is taking early retirement, said he wanted to give it to someone who may not usually have the chance to run their own business.

The winning ticket was picked by sci-fi fan and Dutchman Ceisjan Van Heerden.

He will be giving up his job in customer service to relocate to Cardigan in Ceredigion, on the west Wales coast.

"I was so shocked when I heard I had won," said Mr Van Heerden. "It's surreal. I had a coffee and a sit down to take it all in."

Image source, Bookends
Image caption,
Bookends is based on High Street in Cardigan

Father-of-two Mr Morris set up Bookends in 2014 after decades working in the publishing industry.

"I'd always thought Cardigan needed a book store and one night I was on eBay when I saw 18,000 books for sale - and it went from there."

Two lorry trips later - and six days of shelf stacking - the shop was up and running and has hosted in-store appearances by poets and authors.

'No-one loses'

However, with Mr Morris' osteoarthritis worsening over the years he reluctantly decided to call it a day - but wanted to sell it with a difference.

For three months, people who spent more than £20 were entered into a raffle.

"I didn't want to sell the shop and then see a chain take it over - I wanted it to stay a bookshop but give someone different a go," he said.

"I figured a raffle would be good, because no-one loses. Even if they did not get the shop, they still have some great books to read."

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On 1 September, number 33 was picked out of the hat to the tune of The Winner Takes It All by Abba in a packed bookshop.

Its new owner Mr Van Heerden, known to friends as CJ, learned of his good fortune through a text message.

He said he plans to run the shop with his friend Svaen Bjorn, from Iceland.

The pair have been friends for the past nine years after meeting on the internet - but have never actually met face-to-face.

"It might sound strange, but we can make it work and it is just an amazing opportunity," said Mr Van Heerden, ahead of the formal hand-over on 5 November.

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