A very special visitor will be making a guest appearance in Hawes next week to help Dales residents celebrate an historic achievement.
Postman Pat will be on hand when the new community-run Post Office opens for the first time … maintaining a local service for people in upper Wensleydale and upper Swaledale who feared they would suffer as a result of a rationalisation scheme put forward by the Post Office.
The new facility – sited in the Upper Wensleydale Community Office – will open for business next Thursday (26 June 2014). The daily responsibility for running the office will pass from the current Post Office team of Steve and Linda Reynolds, to 22-year-old Imogen Kirkbride, the newly-appointed Postmistress. Upper Dales councillor John Blackie will become the Community Volunteer Head Postmaster, with overall responsibility for the operation.
Councillor Blackie said: This will be a hugely important moment for the Upper Dales, with significance not just for us locally, but for scores of rural communities around the country whose vital infrastructure is being eroded at every turn,”
We have demonstrated that with determination and enthusiasm, it is possible to keep these wonderful communities alive and thriving. It takes effort and energy and commitment, but the alternative is too depressing to contemplate.
The Post Office in Hawes was threatened with closure as part of a nationwide reshaping of the organisation. In its place, the Post Office proposed to send a mobile office three times a week. Undelivered mail would have had to be collected in person from Leyburn … 17 miles further down the valley from Hawes.
The new look Post Office will be sited in the Upper Wensleydale Community Office, which already houses the local library and also provides a platform through which residents can access services provided by Richmondshire District Council, North Yorkshire County Council, and North Yorkshire Police.
As well as providing the counter service in Hawes, the new Postmistress will supervise other counter staff, provide a counter service at outreach Post Offices in Bainbridge and Askrigg, and account to the Head Postmaster (Councillor Blackie) for all financial transactions.
As well as Postman Pat, other guests at the handover ceremony next week will include Ray Allen and Shirley Iveson, who between them have delivered hundreds of thousands of letters, packets and parcels to the Upper Dales over 50 years.
Picture Shows (left) Abbie Rhodes (Upper Wensleydale Community Office/Deputy Head Postmaster for Hawes) and Imogen Kirkbride, at 22 years of age, currently the youngest Postmistress in the United Kingdom, at the new front desk in the UWCO.