A Perthshire postmistress facing financial ruin over the Horizon scandal has been overwhelmed by support from the community.
Thousands of pounds have been raised for Marlene Wood, who regularly has to make up shortfalls due to continuing errors in the Post Office computer system.
It’s left her in debt and taken its toll on her mental health.
Just last week, a £750 shortfall was recorded.
Fujitsu, the company which developed the Horizon software has apologised for the firm’s role in the scandal.
Postmistress Marlene Wood said: “It’s something that I and many other postmasters deal with day to day, Horizon, and there is still that dread on a Wednesday night when you press that button.
“A lot of nights I could see no end to it. I hardly slept.”
Two weeks ago, Marlene Wood’s post office in Comrie was on the brink of financial collapse.
Four years since starting her dream job, her life has been turned upside down due to the Horizon computer system throwing up errors in the balance sheet almost everyday.
She’s found herself thousands of pounds out of pocket as she attempts to cover discrepancies and rising costs.
Hearing of Marlene’s plight, the community has rallied together, raising more than £5,000 for her business, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign led by the chair of Comrie Community Council.
While not a long-term solution, the support has helped keep the vital service open as problems with the computer system remain ongoing.
Comrie Community Council chair Gillian Brock said: “We just thought, ‘we have to do something’.
“We thought we’ll start a GoFundMe page in the hope that we could get some money to help pay her electricity bills, maybe give her a wee bit of security in the background to keep her going for a wee bit longer and give her some self-esteem back.
“This is a community that does have a large elderly population and they like to go down for a blether. It’s the hub of the village and it’s our post office.”
Marlene added: “I have slept quite well since it has all happened. I don’t have that horrible pit in my stomach feeling and that’s nice.”
More than 700 Post Office branch managers around the UK were prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 after faulty Horizon accounting software made it look as though money was missing from their shops.
Hundreds of subpostmasters and subpostmistresses are still awaiting compensation despite the Government announcing that those who have had convictions quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.
The saga prompted an outcry across the country after it was dramatised in the STV series Mr Bates vs The Post Office in early January.
Three former subpostmasters have had their decade-old convictions quashed at the Court of Appeal, taking the total number of quashed convictions due to the Horizon scandal to 100.
In recent weeks, representatives from Fujitsu, the company which developed the Horizon software, gave evidence to the national inquiry and apologised for the firms role in the scandal.
A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are deeply sorry for past wrongs. We’re doing our utmost to ensure any injustices are put right as swiftly as possible and full, fair compensation paid.
“We continue with extensive work to support and progress the overturning of wrongful convictions and strongly encourage people who have not yet come forward to appeal to consider doing so.”
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