KIND-HEARTED neighbours united to protect an elderly woman after a rogue trader tried to charge her more than £1,000 to cut a hedge.

The 92-year-old woman, who was left “shaking like a leaf”, praised her neighbours for coming to her aid.

The pensioner, who asked not to be named, said she felt embarrassed and stupid after the man visited her home in Studds Lane, Mile End, Colchester.

She had previously had her garden hedge trimmed at a cost of £700, but a man quoted her a price of £1,200 to carry out the same work this year.

He did not leave a name or contact number but promised he would return yesterday to carry out the unwanted work.

Afraid to face the man alone and turn him down, the resident appealed to her neighbours for help.

Kindly neighbour Terry Morgan received a note through his door asking for support in heading him off.

It said: “I have done the most stupid thing.

“A man came to my house saying he cut my hedge last year and I want it doing.

“He said this will cost £1,200. I am now feeling very stupid. I have phoned my son who said he will try and be here by 8.30am.

“If they arrive earlier, could you give me a little support when I tell them not to start and I do not want them to cut any of my hedge.

“I feel stupid and shaking like a leaf.

“Last year it was £700 and they didn’t clear up properly.

“Just your appearance would be such a help.”

Early yesterday morning, Mr Morgan and a group of neighbours stood guard at her address to show their support.

Mr Morgan, who a taxi driver, said: “In this day and age surely he should have had some form of identification.

“It seems like he was trying his luck and taking advantage of her.

“We have always looked out for each other here and we didn’t hesitate to help.

“She clearly didn’t want the work done and was afraid.

“I had my car parked across her drive just in case they tried to arrive.”

The group joined the pensioner’s son Simon who said he was touched by their show of support.

He said: “There have been examples of people such as this persuading elderly people to pay too much for a simple job.

“It is important we look out for them, it does make me angry.

“She paid much less last year and £1,200 to cut a hedge is crazy.

“It is nice to know community spirit still exists and she has neighbours who are willing to support her.”

After standing guard at her address for around an hour, the trader had failed to show up.

The group said they would remain vigilant should he visit again.

The pensioner, who has lived in Studds Lane for about 34 years, said she was “overwhelmed” with the response to her appeal.

She said: “When I first came here I was quite young - now I am the oldest in the road.

“My neighbours have been a pillar of strength. I just feel so stupid, I didn’t get a name or a phone number off him and didn’t know what to do if he turned up.”