When Alan and Wendy Stamford close the door of the village Post Office next month they will be marking the end of an era for the village.
The little Post Office on the corner of the High Street and Lewes Road has served generations of villagers, often patiently queueing outside the door to buy their stamps and post their parcels.
For the last 17 years Alan and Wendy have been the friendly faces behind the post office counter, along with staff Glenda (four years) and Janet (two years), so it seems appropriate that they are all retiring together next month.
As they prepare to leave the village, Alan and Wendy spoke about how they came to buy the Post Office and become an integral part of village life, how, faced with adversity, they were touched by the kindness and support of customers, and how they are looking forward to their first proper holiday in 17 years!
By Claire Cooper
Alan and Wendy first met as teenagers when they worked at WH Smith’s in Churchill Square in Brighton. “I was only 15 1/2, and it was my first job,” said Wendy.
Romance blossomed and the pair were eventually married, moving to Grimsby working at WH Smith before returning to Sussex and running Dillons newsagents in Worthing for 25 years.
With many years’ experience running newsagents’ shops, it was only a matter of time before Alan and Wendy decided they would like a business of their own.
“We had always thought about running our own business but didn’t want to take the risk while our two children were young,” said Wendy. “Alan had always wanted to own a card shop as he loves choosing and ordering greetings cards!”
Tired of the long hours involved in running a newsagents, the pair started looking around for a business that didn’t involve getting up at the crack of dawn to organise the morning paper rounds.
“So we were delighted when details of the Lindfield Post Office arrived in the post!” said Wendy.
However, at first it seemed an impossible dream as the sale included both the shop and house next door and was way beyond the couple’s budget. “I spoke to the estate agent who sang its praises and suggested we still came and looked as there might be an opportunity to buy just the Post Office. Even without the house it was still slightly over our budget but we loved it straight away.”
So the couple jumped in at the deep end and bought the Post Office. “We had to stretch ourselves just to buy this bit and we wondered if we were pushing ourselves too far,” Alan recalled. “But it proved to be absolutely the right decision.”
Full article available on pages 20 & 21.