WHEN 82-year-old George Dearlove popped into the bookies on his way home from the pub, the last thing he expected was to be caught up in an armed robbery.

But the two machete-wielding masked men who burst into Coral in Wallingford may have had a bigger scare when the retired railway-worker hurled two metal stools across the room to try to stop their getaway.

The pensioner had placed a bet at 8.50pm on Wednesday when the men, who were disguised with Halloween masks, ran into the Market Place bookmaker and demanded staff opened the safe and hand over takings.

One was waving a machete while the other held a red and white plastic bag for their loot.

Mr Dearlove said: “At first I thought it was a couple of boys having a laugh. Then I thought: ‘You cannot have that’, and hurled a chair at them.

“Then I went over a bit further and threw another one. I wasn’t scared at all.

“They didn’t reckon with me being there. I’d only just placed a bet, and all I was thinking was: ‘You’ve got some of my money there, mate.’”

Police are now searching for the two men, who escaped with more than £1,000 in cash. The armed man is described as being between 5ft 7in and 5ft 8in, and was wearing a black hooded top and black gloves.

His accomplice was wearing a dark hooded top, light-coloured tracksuit bottoms and gloves.

After fleeing the scene, the pair headed in the direction of Waitrose.

Thames Valley Police said Mr Dearlove had shown “great bravery” in trying to stop the offenders escaping.

In The Dolphin pub, in St Mary’s Street, locals hailed as a hero the man they know as “Gentleman George”.

Regular Phil Oglesby, 46, said: “George really is a lovely old boy. Fair play to him for what he did.”

Coral spokesman Simon Clare said: “Clearly Mr Dearlove was very brave and courageous, and we are very grateful for his intervention.”

No-one was injured and no arrests have been made. Anyone with information should contact Dc Jon Shaw on 08458 505505 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.