Self-sacrifice set to save Overstrand post office

A North Norfolk sub-postmaster has delayed his retirement to give time for a successor to step in and save his village from losing its post office.

When John and Aindrea Withnall announced that they were calling it a day after 23 years at the helm of Overstrand Post Office, there were fears that it could become the latest village to lose a lifeline amenity.

But, following negotiations with Post Office Ltd, Mr Withnall has agreed to stay on until a new sub-postmaster is in place.

And the EDP has learned that Michael Maher, the current sub-postmaster at Blofield Heath Post Office, Woodbastwick Road, Blofield, is looking to take it on.

Mr Maher did not want to comment in detail, but said: 'It would be a shame if Overstrand lost its post office. I have applied for the position of sub-postmaster.

'It's imperative to continue the service there. I'm very grateful to Mr Withnall for agreeing to carry on while my application is pending.'

He said he intended to continue to run the post office at Blofield alongside the service at Overstrand.

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The post office had been due to close temporarily on November 18, sparking fears in the village that it would never reopen.

But a Post Office Ltd spokesman said a 'prospective candidate' was going through the selection process, and added: 'We are delighted that we have been able to come to an agreement with our current partner to continue operating Post Office services in Overstrand.

'Customers can be assured that we will continue to work hard to find a solution that will provide a Post Office presence in the area for the long term.'

Mr Withnall said: 'I'm retiring. I've got some health problems and that has spurred me on. It will give us time to see this county, which we love. It has been tough the last few years. I thought we were going to be closed during the closure programme a few years ago. But it's still viable with another business.

He added: 'When we took over we had a convenience store with the post office, but the recession hit and it just became a post office.

'Originally we were going to go on November 18, but we will probably be here until after Christmas now. The sale is going through for the business next door. Hopefully we will soon be able to transfer it and there will be no break of service.'

Mr Withnall said he and his wife would continue to live above the post office.

Overstrand's North Norfolk district councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett said: 'I'm keeping everything crossed that it's not going to close. It's absolutely vital. Overstrand has still got a church, school, shop, pub and post office.

'To lose the post office would be totally detrimental. We need it.'