Long-serving Westhall Post Office worker Tony Whatling praised by prime minister David Cameron

A village shop owner has been congratulated in Parliament after clocking up 60 years of service with the Post Office.

Tony Whatling has weighed packages, sold stamps and given out pensions to the people of Westhall, near Halesworth, since 1951.

In that time villagers have seen rationing, the introduction of decimalisation and countless other changes, but the one constant throughout has been the presence of Mr Whatling behind his till at Tony's Stores.

Yesterday prime minister David Cameron congratulated him in the House of Commons as Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey mentioned him during a question on rural post offices in Prime Minister's Questions.

Mr Cameron said: 'I certainly join my honourable friend in paying tribute to Mr Whatling. To run your village store and post office for 60 years is a huge achievement and it is people like that who keep our country going.'

In July, Mr Whatling celebrated 60 years of running his shop, but at the end of the year his store marked six decades as a post office as he was presented with a special long-service award from bosses in front of his loyal customers.

Regional Network Manager Mark Lawrence said: 'We appreciate the dedication, contribution and commitment that Mr Whatling has made to the business through his long service with the Post Office.

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'Mr Whatling is a true ambassador for the business and to be with the Post Office for so long is a fantastic achievement.

'The Long Service Award they receive gives the Post Office an opportunity to say thank you for their loyal support to the business.'

Mr Whatling, 86, first opened his store at a 25-year-old, having always wanted to be a shop keeper.

He said: 'I can't quite believe I have done so many years as it has been such a pleasure to serve my customers and the community of Westhall.'

Westhall resident and customer Julia Baker called him a 'huge pillar to the community'.

She added: 'Westhall is so very lucky to have such a wonderful person.'

During Prime Minister's Questions, Ms Coffey asked the prime minister to press the Post Office to re-open services in Walberswick and Wangford.

Mr Cameron said that the government has committed �1.3bn to improve the Post Office network and that mobile post offices were a way to serve many communities.

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