Former NFDC leader Barry Rickman takes on Sway post office
THE former leader of New Forest District Council has hailed the “incredible support” of villagers after he stepped in to ensure the survival of Sway’s post office.
Cllr Barry Rickman has become the new postmaster after launching a community-centred shop with his wife Sue.
The post office opened in April in a former double-glazing shop on Station Road, selling stationery and household items as well as serving as a hub for local producers.
Postal services were previously based at the Bestway Central Convenience Stores, which announced it would close in January this year.
Cllr Rickman is now an Independent on New Forest District Council, having resigned as Conservative leader last year after he admitted breaching environmental laws relating to Rickman’s scrapyard in Lower Mead End Road, Sway, which was operated by his brother Robert.
Cllr Rickman said: “It was a very difficult year for me but the community of Sway have been incredible in their support. I am really enjoying serving my community as an independent councillor– which was how I got involved in local politics in the first place.
“Local councillors should be at the heart of their communities and that is exactly where I am. We are eternally grateful to so many people in the village who have supported us to open to do this and throughout the last year.”
Initially working part-time at the convenience stores, Barry learned the basics on the job and worked over the festive period to ensure postal services could continue.
When it closed in January, he was able to continue running the post office within the premises for £1 a month until the new shop was ready in April.
Cllr Rickman said: “When we heard the news last autumn that the convenience store was closing I realised that if we did lose our post office in Sway, we would probably never get it back.
“It was important to me to maintain the postal service – meanwhile, we had absolutely incredible support from so many people in the village and especially Roy and Margie Parker who took charge of the whole shop renovation and basically project-managed it.”
The new Sway post office opens 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 9am-midday on Saturday. The shop has also become a showcase for local craftspeople selling everything from knitted tea cosies to tiaras.
Sue said: “Many of the items we sell are unique and made by local people – Kim Williams is a very talented knitter who makes animal tea cosies, we have a lady called Angie Bishop who makes jewellery from copper piping; Sarak Uniacke who makes handbags out of cork; and incredible felt dogs made by Karen Findlay.”