A warm-hearted retailer loaned money to pensioners in his village after they were unable to draw their pensions because of a computer fault.
Budgens retailer Alec Gardener, who owns East Bergholt Village Stores, near Colchester, Essex, handed out a total of £520 of his own money after the broadband internet connection to his post office and store crashed for almost two weeks.
Alec, who won the lifetime achievement award at Convenience Store's Top Shop Awards in 2005, said he felt obliged to continue to offer the service to the customers, who borrowed an average of £50 from him each week.
"I felt I had to help as they support us with their custom week in, week out," said Alec. "The pensioners have no other way of taking money out because we are quite isolated and they can't just drive to a post office in the next town. We like to work together as a community; it's what village life is all about."
The connection failure, which has been blamed on a problem between BT and Cable and Wireless, has now been resolved and most of the pensioners have repaid Alec.
He added: "All the customers have been very grateful. I only wish BT or the Post Office could have done something more. If I hadn't been prepared to loan my own money, they would have missed out."