A village community has rallied around its local subpostmaster and helped him to repay the £28,000 he had admitted stealing from the Post Office.

Graham Warnes, of Fowlmere, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to stealing the cash, and when he could not repay the full amount to Royal Mail local residents chipped in, saving the store from closure.

Graham told the court he started taking the money two years ago to fund the village shop when it ran into financial difficulty. He said he saw the shop as an essential hub for the community and didn't want it to close.

The judge handed down a nine-month suspended sentence and 200 hours of community service. Graham will also have to pay costs of £965.

The Post Office has since closed, but Graham is still running the village shop and has promised to repay all the money lent to him.

"What the villagers did was tremendous," he said. "All I can say is a big thank you from me to all of the villagers."