A FEEL GOOD story which took place at the end of a ghastly year.

An emergency call from Sweden on New Year’s Eve: my 20-year-old daughter was on a 10-day post-Christmas yoga retreat. It was awful, she was flying home that day, very upset. Could I pick her up from Gatwick?

Anxious to avoid delays and motorway prices for fuel I hurried into my local filling station.

It was very crowded and the only free space was on the “wrong” side of the pumps.

It took some manoeuvring but, somewhat flustered, I could just get the hosepipe to the fuel inlet.

I paid and set off, but in Chalford the always reliable engine stopped.

I took out the fuel receipt.

Yes, I had put unleaded petrol in my diesel car.

I called my roadside rescue.

It was a busy time: it would take several hours to tow me home (free) or clean the tank (£200). Either way I’d miss the incoming flight.

Several friendly people asked if I was OK and the driver of a new black Range Rover with personalised plates offered to tow me home.

A complete stranger, he even knew how to fix a towing eye into the apparently impenetrable bumper on my Audi A4.

We had been chatting while fixing the tow rope and he knew why I was on the road.

Unprompted he offered to lend me his (third!) car (“an old Discovery we take stuff to the tip in”) until my local garage re-opened and could fix my car.

Having towed me home to Thrupp he drove me back to his house to pick up the Discovery and said that he had learned about “doing the right thing” when he bought his Chalford house some years ago. The day before he and his wife moved in, there had been a flood downstairs.

All the neighbours had rallied round in an amazingly generous way, moving furniture, making meals, supplying cups of tea for the firemen, and it had been a wonderful way to join their local community.

He was passing on that goodwill.

I collected my daughter and returned his car all in time for a happy new year!

David Frost