MANY of us will have experienced the occasion when over-exuberance of pulling a crisp note out of our wallet or purse has resulted in it being torn in two.

Generally speaking, all you can do in this instance is tape the two halves together again.

But what would you do if you found one like that pictured above which looks like it has been through a shredder?

This, once pristine £20 note was given to a reader when he was doing some building work at a gentleman's home over the border in Lancashire.

The gentleman had been tidying his garden and found the note under his hedge.

Suspecting it had been through the lawn mower, or chewed by mice, or both, he handed it to the builder saying: "There you go; a bonus! See if the bank will change it for you."

Not the type to look a gift horse in the mouth, the builder said he'd have a go.

So, what happened to the sorry looking note?

We decided to try some of the Skipton banks for their expert guidance when presented with half the Queen's face, half the water mark, two thirds of the metallic strip, almost all the holograph but only one of two serial numbers.

Clearly it was a genuine £20 note at one time and, in fairness, we knew we were probably on a hiding to nowhere given its state, but we thought it interesting to find out just how much of a note you needed for it to be regarded spendable currency and which bank, if any, was willing to give you its face value in exchange.

First stop was HSBC.

The cashier said it was a no-hoper. She said her bank's policy was that at least three quarters of both serial numbers (one on each side) had to be in tact and the whole of the Bank of England wording on the front of the note had to be there in its entirety.

Clearly this example was not going to pass muster, however, she did give us a form where we could send the remains of the note off to the Bank of England and they would likely refund the amount into an account or by a cheque.

We tried both Barclays and Nat West and were told the same, only in their case they would require the Bank of England wording and all of both serial numbers before exchanging the note over the counter.

Incidentally, you also had to be a customer in all the cases.

So, there you have it. If you come across a bank note that is very much worse for wear you should be able to exchange it by sending it, with the appropriate form, directly to the Bank of England. A bit of a phaf, but it's still £20 at the end of the day.