Checkout chaplain lends his ear

PUBLISHED: 07:34 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:07 24 May 2010

Asda chaplain Paul Arblaster with Louise Smith.

Asda chaplain Paul Arblaster with Louise Smith.

FOOD and drink is easy enough to buy at the supermarket, but heavenly help and saintly support are normally a bit harder to find. But troubled shoppers in Weston looking for a listening ear as they leave the checkout can always turn to the Asda chaplain.

FOOD and drink is easy enough to buy at the supermarket, but heavenly help and saintly support are normally a bit harder to find.But troubled shoppers in Weston looking for a listening ear as they leave the checkout can always turn to the Asda chaplain. Paul Arblaster stands at the end of the checkouts at Asda in Phillips Road every Thursday afternoon, offering customers a little bit of God's guidance with their groceries.The 55-year-old holds a sign which says 'Asda Chaplain' and simply talks to people about whatever they want.Paul, who lives in Cheddar, said: "A lot of people give me quizzical or suspicious glances. some will give me the thumbs-up when they see me and about one in 100 will stop for a short chinwag."About one in 200 will have a conversation for four or five minutes and share what they're going through."Every now and again though someone will just talk to me for ages, maybe over an hour, and just unpick their lives."Paul was inspired to take up the role of supermarket chaplain by the leader of a church in Gloucester, who is also an Asda chaplain.He moved to England three years ago from America so he could get more involved with the church. He is married and used to work as a teacher.Paul added: "The Asda chaplains offer a service to people who may feel they are marginalised or alienated by the church and have needs they cannot get anywhere else anymore."Paul is also organising informal meetings to discuss spiritual questions and experiences. Anyone interested should call him on 07815 441730.

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