After almost 50 years of delivering what they hope has been a first class service, Ballykelly’s postmaster and postmistress have retired.
William Mitchell and his wife, Sylvia said a fond farewell this week from Ballykelly post office, which will be relocated to Morans Supervalu in the village.
Since the couple announced their retirement, they have been inundated with cards and messages of support from well-wishers in the village.
“You know you’ll be missed,” one loyal customer told William on Tuesday, before giving him a hug.
And, after 49 years of running the post office, William said he feels exactly the same about his customers.
William took over the post office from his father, Robin when he died suddenly.
Stepping in to help his mother, William recalls receiving telegrams over the phone and typing them out before hopping on his bike to deliver the news.
“You got the good news, the bad news, the news about the greyhound races being cancelled,” he recalled. “Nothing stands still, and the post office is different now, but they were happy days.”
While acknowledging the many changes in the Post Office throughout the years, William believes the customer remained at the heart of everything.
He said one of the highlights was in 2009 when the branch was placed among the top three in the north.
“We have enjoyed our service. It was the heart of the community, and we tried to serve the people as best we could, and we hope we did that,” said William.
The couple say they are looking forward to standing in the queue with the rest of the customers at the new post office, and say they are ready for the next chapter in their lives.
They hoped people would support the new post office venture at Morans Supervalu.
“We will definitely miss the people because they have been very kind to us.
“They have been very loyal and we have known them all our life, but we are looking forward to retirement to do what we want to do, and make use of our bus pass,” said William with a smile.
“I suppose it is the end of an era,” William said, who wanted to give this message to customers: “We would like to thank all our customers for their loyalty and support over the years we have run this post office. It was a pleasure to serve you all and I hope we have given you the service you deserve.
“Thank you all again and we wish you all the best in the future.”
A spokesperson for the Post Office said services will be available during the Morans Supervalu store’s opening hours, 6am to 11pm seven days a week.
It means the opening hours will increase, and will include earlier opening, later closing, no lunchtime closures and service on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and Sundays, said the spokesperson.
The date for the relocation has yet to be confirmed.
Suzanne Richardson, Regional Manager said: “We are making it easier for customers to get their cash, send and collect their mail and do their banking because we know how important these services are to local residents.”