A council recycling crew came to the rescue to help a recently widowed woman track down letters and cards of condolence that were mistakenly thrown out by a friend.

The distraught woman, who lost her 40-year-old husband suddenly last weekend, wanted to keep them to show her young children when they are older.

But a friend accidentally put them into a recycling sack which was collected from her house in Wandsworth last Tuesday.

When she realised what had happened she immediately called the council’s waste management team to see if they could be retrieved.

After receiving the distress call, staff contacted the recycling crew and asked them to try and find the letters so the woman could be reunited with them.

The team, made up of Nathan Hearne, Lee McSweeney and manager Mark Hudson, tipped the contents of their lorry on the ground and sifted through the sacks until they found the cards - which were returned later that day.

Driver Lee McSweeney said: “When we were told what had happened we were more than happy to help.

"The thought of having lost all those important letters must have been absolutely terrible.

"There were more than 1,000 sacks in the back of the wagon, so we knew that it might take us ages to find it but we were determined to look through each and every one until we found it.

"It took a while but all the boys were really chuffed that we managed to track it down and very pleased that we were able to help this poor woman after everything else she's been through."

Wandsworth Council's environment spokesman Councillor Malcolm Grimston paid tribute to the crew and said: "This was a sterling piece of work in response to what was essentially an emergency situation. The crew can and should be very proud of what they did."

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