Village says farewell to post office

AS the death knell sounded on one of Suffolk's community post offices, residents took the unusual step of holding a wake.Villagers in Burstall, near Ipswich, gathered at the weekend to commiserate the end of their local branch, which had been the focal point of the village for the last 134 years.

AS the death knell sounded on one of Suffolk's community post offices, residents took the unusual step of holding a wake.

Villagers in Burstall, near Ipswich, gathered at the weekend to commiserate the end of their local branch, which had been the focal point of the village for the last 134 years.

But the day was also a chance to pay special tribute to the shop's longest serving owner, Dot Chapman, who has been behind the counter for 42 years.

Over 80 people packed into the village hall on Saturday afternoon to witness the presentation of flowers and garden furniture to Mrs Chapman from the chairman of the parish council, Andrew Cooper.

Jane Fiske, who helped organise the event, said a wake seemed the appropriate thing to do: “A wake is to celebrate the departed so we are celebrating our departed post office and thanking Mrs Chapman personally.

“It is like everything, you do not know what you have got until you have lost it. It was well used in a village this size but it is no longer viable as a shop without the post office.”

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Now in her 70s, Mrs Chapman, who received a community award from Babergh council after reaching 40 years at the shop, has now lived through the closing of their pub, their school and now the post office.

She said: “It is a very sad time for the whole country but it is a different way of life now to 40 years ago. People did not need to travel outside the village then - they all worked on the farm or land.”

Everyone was to blame for the closure of some post offices, she said, due to the way people now travel and use supermarkets.

Of the closures she said: “Personally I was very hurt when I was told. I am resigned to it now but I feel it is very hard for the (elderly) people who cannot get out. They (the Government) are always on about the environment but they are making people do more miles.”