A couple who ran a Post Office in Swindon for just over a decade made the decision to retire because of concerns over the new Horizon software. 

Isabel King was among the first postmasters to be trained on the Fujitsu accounting software whilst running a Post Office in Blunsdon with her husband Edward.

Her son, Nick Adams-King, has told the Adver she highlighted at the time, in 1997, how it was problematic.

Instead of choosing to continue at their Post Office with the new software, the pair decided to call it a day and retire for good. 

They would go on to see many of their fellow Postmaster friends struggle to balance the books and use their own money to plug the gaps we now know were caused by problems with Horizon.

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 900 were prosecuted by the Post Office.

Swindon Advertiser: Nick Adams-King's parents ran a Post Office in Blunsdon in the 1990sNick Adams-King's parents ran a Post Office in Blunsdon in the 1990s (Image: Archive)

"My mum and dad ran a sweet shop in North Devon, but as they got into their late 50s they were looking for a business they could run up until they retired and settled on a Post Office thinking it would be a quiet, less stressful business to run," Nick said.

"One came up in Blunsdon so they moved there and started it up in 1987."

The pair would run the Post Office there for over a decade, becoming a big part of the local community. 

In 1994, they were robbed by a man armed with a machete which he used to smash his way through the security screen, but Mr King sheltered his wife and then raised the alarm, remembering the number plate of the raider's car, for which he was later awarded by the Post Office. 

Then in 1997, they were chosen as a pilot Post Office for the new Horizon software. 

"They both had an incredibly strong work ethic and had built other successful businesses, so rather inevitably turned it into a thriving, busy shop and postal hub," Nick said. 

"In 1997 given their turnover they were chosen as a pilot post office for the new Horizon software rollout.

"My Mum was sent on a course to learn how to use it. She came home disillusioned and concerned.

"The training unit she had been using never balanced, despite her being sure she had entered the correct data. The trainers dismissed it as her error and assured her it worked correctly.

"Mum was certain that wasn't the case. She distrusted the system, saw its flaws and the liability which would potentially descend on her and Dad.

"So she decided they should sell up and fully retire, leaving the business they loved. Mum refused to have Horizon installed, stubbornly sending managers and installers away until the final day before they closed and transferred to the new owners."

Isabel and Edward then moved to Hampshire, but kept in touch with friends who ran Post Offices and would often talk to Nick about how many of them were regularly having to use their own money to balance the books. 

He said: "Many of my parent's postmaster friends faced awful problems with the software, having to deal with huge liabilities, dreadful worries and an intransigent, belligerent, litigious employer."

Isabel died in 2010 just as the Horizon Scandal was about to make the news, but Edward lived until 2015, so did see it all kicking off. 

"He was pretty sharp right up to the end," Nick said. 

"He turned to me and said, this is exactly what your mum said would happen."

The Horizon scandal has become a big story nationally after the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office captured the public's fury, after years of reporting brought the injustice to light. 

Nick added that he has been unable to watch it yet because it made him think about his parents and was too emotional.

"It could just have easily happened to them," he said.