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Village postmaster up for award over efforts to keep branch open during pandemic

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Gilly Cole has been nominated in the We’re Stronger Together contest
Gilly Cole has been nominated in the We’re Stronger Together contest

THE efforts by Burton’s postmaster to keep the branch open during the Covid-19 pandemic have seen her nominated for a regional award.

Gilly Cole was shortlisted by the Post Office in the south-east category of its We’re Stronger Together competition. Throughout the crisis she has worked on her own at the Salisbury Road outlet.

“I am humbled to have received such a recognition,” she said. “I only consider myself lucky to have a job that I enjoy so much and with wonderful considerate customers.

“Although working through Covid-19 was so hard, my lovely customers kept me going with little gifts and even a fresh trout!”

As reported in the A&T, the Burton site was at risk in late 2016 when the Post Office earmarked it for closure as part of a modernisation programme.

However, lobbying by Christchurch MP Sir Chris Chope and a petition by villagers as well as Gilly’s arrival saw the decision reversed.

Post Office area manager David Stiggants added: “Working on her own throughout the pandemic, Gilly has constantly received high praise from customers who recognise her as the centre of the community.

“She always has time for everyone who enters her branch and goes the extra mile with a smile on her face. Gilly makes the atmosphere in her branch and is, as one customer responded, ‘a real local legend’.”

There was further praise from Nick Read, Post Office chief executive, who said: “I have heard many inspiring stories of postmasters going the extra mile and I have welcomed the opportunity to hear first-hand how postmasters in the south-east have fared during the pandemic, including Burton.

“Post Office branches have a vital role to play in supporting their customers and communities, as well as helping small businesses and independent retailers get back on their feet.”

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