THE owner of a threatened pet store has been rewarded for the excellence of his service to the community by being named 'Shopkeeper of the Year.'

The future of Heads 'N' Tails - Wanstead's only pet shop - remains in doubt more than three years after its owner was told the business may have to move from its current home in the High Street, by landlord WX Investments.

Mas Beg, who has run the 46-year-old business since 1999, has been left in limbo ever since he was told he might have to relocate so the site can be redeveloped - a situation some fear could be imminent after it was revealed that an application granted on appeal five years ago to extend the premises and add a new shop front is set to expire this July.

But the 54-year-old father-of-two's mood has been lifted by news that he is to be named the area's top trader by the Wanstead Society.

He said: "I'm really pleased.

"I didn't ask for this, but it's nice that people think we deserve it.

"I still don't know what the plans are for the shop but we are just carrying on the same as always.

"We have great customers here. Some of them have been coming to the shop for a long time.

"We offer a personal service like all small shops and I think people appreciate that.

"It's business as usual as far as I'm concerned."

Wanstead Society member Marian Temple said: "When one of our committee gave a talk to a local group, they took us to task for having ceased our Shopkeeper of the Year awards before honouring Mas.

"We asked around and found that many other society members rely on the little shop and couldn't speak highly enough of Mas and his assistant Trevor."

Mr Beg will be presented with the Shopkeeper of the Year award at his shop at 11am on Monday, May 17.

He told the Guardian that he has asked for three to six months notice if required to relocate.

A spokesman for WX Investments said: "Mr Beg is on a lease so there is no question of us just making him leave.

"If he wants to discuss this with us then we will be happy to do so.

"We are currently looking at a couple of options for the site. What eventually goes ahead depends on what the council permits."