Village shop one of the country's best

A VILLAGE postmaster whose store was raided by armed robbers has been celebrating after his shop was named one of the best in the country.Alec Gardner, owner of the Budgens store and post office at East Bergholt, near Colchester, scooped Convenience Store magazine's Best Village Store and Best Independent Symbol Village Store awards.

A VILLAGE postmaster whose store was raided by armed robbers has been celebrating after his shop was named one of the best in the country.

Alec Gardner, owner of the Budgens store and post office at East Bergholt, near Colchester, scooped Convenience Store magazine's Best Village Store and Best Independent Symbol Village Store awards.

Mr Gardner said: “It was unexpected and my team and I were all thrilled, but what's best about the news is that it takes away some of the pain of the armed robbery that we suffered last autumn.

“Our customers were so supportive then and I'd like to thank everyone in the local community and all our loyal employees because it's all these people who make the store what it is.”


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The armed raid happened in October last year when three balaclava clad men threatened staff with a sawn-off shotgun, crowbar and baseball bat before herding them into the back of the shop and ordering Mr Gardner to hand over money.

The kind-hearted postmaster, who has been at East Bergholt for four years, was also in the news in August 2006 when he handed out £340 of his own money to elderly customers who were unable to collect their pensions because of problems with the telephone internet connection at the store.

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David Rees, Convenience Store editor, said: “Alec Gardner's enthusiasm and commitment to the highest of standards have not waned throughout his long career as a retailer, and he is continuing to drive impressive growth in sales and customer services from a small village store.

“Alec's story is one of a love for retailing. It was his commitment to his local community that last year won him our Lifetime Achievement Award and we're delighted to see him up with our winning stores yet again.”

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