'I'll really miss the people' - Suffolk postmistress retires after 43 years

Sheila Coe has retired after 43 years with the Post Office. She ran the Stoke Ash branch form 1979.

Sheila Coe has retired after 43 years with the Post Office. She ran the Stoke Ash branch form 1979. - Credit: Post Office/PA

A Suffolk postmistress has retired after 43 years of working for the Post Office.

Sheila Coe began running the Stoke Ash Post Office branch, near Eye, in 1979 out of a garage conversion.

Reflecting on her time with the Post Office, she said: “A friend down the road had the Post Office at the time and she wanted to sell, so we decided to turn our garage into a Post Office and take it on.

“I’ve enjoyed being a postmistress. I started when my girls were all at school, and now I have grandchildren getting married, so I’ve been here a long time.

Sheila Coe is finishing her Post Office career after 43 years

Sheila Coe is finishing her Post Office career after 43 years - Credit: Post Office

“I’ll really miss the people, who come in for a lot of different things; Post Office services, as well as banking and transactions.

“I have had some great face-to-face conversations with people over the years.”

Sheila also said how being at the Post Office in-person was especially important during the pandemic.

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“When we had the big shutdown, I stayed here, open, the whole time.

"I really think people used to come in just to have a walk and to see someone.”

Post Office area manager Shervorne Page thanked Sheila for her long service, adding : "Sheila has been a wonderful Postmaster and I know how much the community has appreciated having her behind the counter.

"Forty-three years is an amazing amount of service. She and her husband Lionel are very much at the heart of their community.

“I hope she enjoys her well-deserved retirement and has time for more walks around her lovely garden. Post Office wishes her all the best.”

Post Office said the company is working hard to restore services to Stoke Ash following Sheila's retirement.

In the meantime, alternative branches include the mobile service at Thorndon, and the stores in Mendlesham and Eye.

Sheila said she would now convert the garage into something else – but hadn’t decided what yet.