A STUDENT has spoken of her horror after a hammer-wielding robber struck at a village shop.

Helen Ashworth, 26, was working alone at the Quick Stop Shop in Burnley Road East, Waterfoot, when a masked man walked into the shop.

He leaned over the counter and raised a claw hammer above her head and demanded the takings.

Miss Ashworth, who has worked part-time at the store for eight years and studies hospitality and events management at Blackburn University Centre, said she was ‘terrified’ by the ordeal.

She said: “I was in the back of the shop doing some work. I heard the door go, glanced at the camera and went into the front, just thinking it was a customer.

“But he was right at the side of the till straight away, leaning towards me with the hammer raised. I took a step back. I was so scared. I just wanted to get him out of the shop.

“He didn’t speak at first and tried to press the button to open the till. When that didn’t work he said ‘Open the till now’, but in a deliberately disguised, gravely voice.

“I did what he said and he grabbed about £35 of cash and ran off. It was only afterwards that the whole ordeal sank in.”

Miss Ashworth, from Waterfoot, rang police, locked the doors and called her boss Paul Carter, who owns the small convenience store.

She had only swapped the Saturday night shift as a favour to shop assistant Tina Goggins, at late notice.

Miss Ashworth has not been back to work since, but said she hopes to fulfil her shifts later this week.

She said: “I’ve had support from my parents, but it has been really stressful.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot of money for someone to threaten that level of violence.

"I just hope someone knows who this is so it doesn’t happen to anybody else.”

Miss Goggins, 41, from Waterfoot, said: “I feel really bad because it should have been me working that night, but also a little fortunate because it sounds horrible.

"We all just hope Helen recovers at home and comes back when she feels ready."

The masked robber struck around 8pm on Saturday, when the Rossendale village was busy.

Police said Miss Ashworth hadn’t been harmed, but was left ‘shaken’ by the ordeal.

The attacker is described as around 5ft 6ins tall and of medium build.

He was wearing grey tracksuit bottoms, a navy waterproof jacket, with white piping on the sleeves and hood, and a green scarf covering his face.

Detective Constable Sarah Beckley said: “If anybody was in the area around the time of the robbery and saw anything suspicious or has any information at all about this incident then I would urge them to contact police.”

Call 0845 1 253545 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.