The champagne was flowing at Sherston Post Office and Stores this week, after it was crowned the best in the Wessex region.

It was a red letter day on Monday for owners Paul and Gail Mather, as they found out they had won the regional Best Rural Retailer award for a village post office or shop.

The competition is run by the Countryside Alliance and nominations are received from customers.

Sherston was one of four shortlisted in its category.

Although Wren's Shop and Post Office, East Knoyle, received a commendation, it was Sherston that impressed the visiting judges the most.

A delighted Mr Mather said it was a wonderful achievement for all the staff and the village as a whole.

"It's fantastic and I am absolutely over the moon," he said.

Mr Mather and his wife took over the post office and the shop in 2004.

Previously, they had been operated as two separate businesses.

The couple embarked on a major refurbishment of the site in April, improving the layout and making an effort to stock local produce.

Mr Mather said he was thrilled people in the village thought so much of the post office and shop.

"I think it's the service that makes the difference," he said.

"It's different from some of the bigger stores, as we try and make it a fun place to shop.

"Our customers have fun with us and we have fun with them.

"I think that's what sets all village shops apart - it's the character."

Mr Mather said he was delighted personally to receive the honour.

"It's a lot of hard work and a little bit of recognition every now and then goes a long way," he said.

"Especially when the nominations come from our customers. It means a lot more to us then."

Mr and Mrs Mather will be invited to a reception at the House of Lords in February, when the winner of the national awards will be announced.

"It's been above our expectations already, and anything else would be a bonus," said Mr Mather. "But it will be a rare night out for us, so we will cherish that."

Delly Everard, regional director of Countryside Alliance Wessex, headed the judging panel and praised Mr and Mrs Mather.

"This dynamic duo only took the shop over two years ago and, while they were refitting the store, they traded from the village hall," she said.

"They sell wonderful local produce and are the hub of their community.

"They sell Christmas cards made by villagers, sell stamps for 10p to help the local Scouts, take part in the annual Sherston boules competition and help the elderly in the community by delivering direct to them."