A RETIRED farmer has praised the overwhelming kindness of the close-knit rural community that rallied round her after December's floods.

Berthe Hayhurst, 85, has nominated her friends in the tiny hamlet of Milton as Gazette Flood Heroes, together with members of her church at Preston Patrick.

In particular, she has described neighbour Sue Taylor as her "helper, adviser and saviour" and told the Gazette: "I can't thank her highly enough for all she has done for me."

Farmer's daughter Miss Hayhurst lives alone in the house where she was born, and said it was 'devastating' when nearly two feet of water flooded in, floating over tables, chairs and cases of her precious books.

She is well known locally for her voluntary work, and that kindness was returned when neighbours and friends rallied in her hour of need - mopping floors; washing furniture, curtains, cushions, glassware and crockery; taking away chairs and rugs to be dried; fetching wellington boots, heaters, new carpets and a dehumidifier; and even cooking her Christmas dinner.

Members of St Patrick's Parish Church did her laundry, supplied a fridge freezer, washing machine and television, and are helping her to buy a new cooker.

"Their kindness has overwhelmed me," said Miss Hayhurst, who is living in her pantry while her house dries out. "A couple of rooms are still in need of some sunshine and sorting, but I have kept smiling through it all. So many people have been much worse off than me."

Neighbour Sue Taylor has known Miss Hayhurst - "Aunty Butty" - all her life and said she was very touched to be among those nominated.

Sue praised her good cheer, and told the Gazette: "She's a star. I don't think I did anything particularly special. It was just nice to be able to help out and lovely to be able to keep her in her own home.

"She's very resilient; she got through the war and she said, this is not going to beat me."