FROM crucifix to cleaver – it’s all in a day’s work for this man of God.

Ordained minister Ben Nicholson has taken over the role of head butcher at Thomas the Baker’s new Helmsley delicatessen – Thomas of Helmsley.

The 47-year-old is combining his role as assistant curate at Helmsley church with his new job as meat development manager at Thomas of Helmsley.

The shop, which was sold by Andrew Pern earlier this year, will offer local foods as well as developing a new range of ready meals, sandwiches and his award winning sausages.

Mr Nicolson said: “Butchery is in my blood going back three generations. My grandfather, who had been a butcher in Wass, near Coxwold, moved to this site in 1935 and Nicholsons was well known.”

Mr Nicholson worked for it and for Pern’s who bought it out – all the while helping out at the local church and training for the ministry with a learn-at-home course.

After briefly leaving butchery to become a postman he returned to the shop which by now had been taken over by Thomas the Baker.

He said: “To some extent there is a moral dilemma. But in my position I oversee the whole process. I select the animals for slaughter, particularly beef and sheep. There is a need to show some respect to the animal.

“Being in control I can assure the lesser of two evils and ensure that they have a dignified death in the name of serving the community here in Helmsley.

“I love being back at the shop and I think the customers like the fact I am a familiar face – though there has been some funny reactions if I happen to be wearing my dog collar,” said Ben, who is responsible for taking services, weddings and christenings at the church.

“It’s great to be able to link the community together through the church and Thomas of Helmsley.”

Mr Nicolson is already getting stuck into his second calling – recipes.

A new heavenly range of ready meals will join a delicious array of his cooked meats, sausages, pies and sandwiches, some of which have been finalists in regional tastings. Mr Nicholson’s sausages, made in the traditional butchery to an old family recipe, were a North East regional finalist in Britain’s Star Sausage competition, judged by Craig Revel Horwood.