As one Willingdon Post Office closed its doors this week another one re-opened after five years of closure.
The Hamlands Post Office in Freshwater Square has shut but the Willingdon village branch has re-opened. The premises in Wish Hill, which was shut in 2008 due to government cuts, has been trading as a shop. However, the owners are delighted to be offering Post Office services once again.
The Post Office says the Wish Hill branch has replaced the Hamlands Post Office and will provide an improved service – including longer hours and no lunchtime closure.
The Post Office in Freshwater Square has shut because the postmistress Kitty Del Lungo has taken retirement at the age of 82. Kitty had served local people in the Post Office for 30 years.
A celebration with Kitty’s friends and family was held on July 20 when she locked the door for the last time (see inset photo below).
Two days later, the owner of The Old Willingdon Post Office in Wish Hill was celebrating her re-opening.
Steve Hewlett, of Britain’s Got Talent fame, attended the grand re-opening and cut the ribbon with Arthur Lager.
Andrea Etwell, owner of the Wish Hill Post Office and shop, said she was pleased with the amount of locals from Willingdon Village and Ratton who turned out for the opening event. Ratton Cllr Colin Belsey and Cllr Caroline Ansell both attended.
Andrea said, “ I am delighted that we can now offer the Post Office services again.
“I live in the village myself and have always felt passionately that there should be a village shop.
“While I had continued with the shop it was getting harder and it was unlikely that could have continued.”
She described the return of the Post Office as a ‘lifeline’ but said she hoped people would use the service and give the shop a boost too.
Andrea added, “I believe the village shop and Post Office really is the heart of the community.”
The move is not popular with everyone, especially elderly residents who live near to the Hamlands Post Office.
However, the Post Office has said it is necessary because the current lease has expired and the subpostmistress wished to retire. It was also an opportunity to move to modern open-plan premises,
Will Russell, from the Post Office, said, “We understand how important having a Post Office is to residents in this area of Eastbourne and we are confident that the Post Office local service will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future.”
Opening hours at Wish Hill will be Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.