A MANAGER was subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of a man wielding a gun, as she opened the Spar shop at Boscombe Down on Monday morning.

The woman had arrived at the premises in Boscombe Road just before 6.30am and was opening the store when she was confronted by a man wearing a black balaclava and armed with a gun. He escaped with £6,000.

The incident follows armed robberies at the George Hotel, Amesbury, in February and at the Co-op in Downton the previous November, both of which occurred as the premises were being opened for the day.

Police said the victim of Monday's incident was deeply shocked but had been able to From page 1

dial 999 to summon help. Officers were at the scene within three minutes but a search of the area proved fruitless.

It is not known whether the gun was real or imitation.

A spokesman for Spar described the manager, who is in charge of 30 full- and part-time staff, as fantastic.

"She really is amazing," he said. "Unless it happens to you, you don't know what you would do.

"She was clearly terrorised by what happened, but she acted brilliantly and appears to have taken it in her stride.

"She is angry at the man's cowardly act and, when the store reopened at 10am after the police scenes-of-crime people had finished, she was back running the store.

"Everyone else is fine. We are helping the police with their inquiries as much as we can," he added.

Detective Constable Alison Wiles, of Amesbury CID, said the robber was dressed entirely in dark clothing - trousers, balaclava and hooded jacket.

"He was about 5ft 10in tall but we have no age and he had no particular accent," she said.

"We want to hear from anyone who saw any suspicious vehicles in the area prior to the robbery or from anyone who knows who this man is.

"He may have run off into a waiting vehicle, which may have been in Jaggard View, as he ran in that direction."

Turning to the robberies at the George Hotel and the Co-op at Downton, she said: "We cannot rule out that they are possibly connected and we are investigating links with those previous incidents."

She added that the manager had been very good in helping with inquiries.

Anyone who was in the vicinity of the shop early on Monday and might have seen the man, or anyone with information about the robber should call the CID on 01980 623822, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.