IN the hectic lead up to the festive period it is easy to forget the true meaning behind Christmas.

Centre Christian Bookshop in London Road, Stroud, which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, reminds us why we commemorate this joyous time.

Manager Yvonne Hobbs, 55, from Chalford Hill, said her shop reflects the important message of Christmas.

"Celebrations are very consumer orientated," said the mother-of-three, who has worked at the store for more than 15 years.

"The good thing about us is that we are really in touch with what Christmas is all about - the store is very popular at this time of year.

"Our customers like the fast we sell traditional advent calenders rather than Barbie ones with chocolate."

The shop, which is owned by all the denominations of Stroud, celebrated its anniversary with a special service at St Lawrence at the start of last month.

Fifteen volunteers from various denominations, including Catholic, Anglican and Baptist, all dedicate their time to work at the store.

It was formed when a mission came to Stroud in 1980 to preach Christianity.

"We are the church in the high street and the face of Christianity - we are open when the church isn't," said Yvonne, a former librarian.

"Working here is really fulfilling because we help teach the life of Jesus and the difference he can make.

"It's not just standing behind a counter all day, we chat to people and advise them on what books to buy.

"I really feel this is my calling and that God put me in this particular place."

As well as books, the shop sells Christmas cards, advent calenders, nativity figures, stable sets, CDs and Fairtrade food.

Books range from Bibles and bibliographies through to fiction and texts about saints, faith and spiritual growth.