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VILLAGERS in Whitley came together last month to say farewell to Smith’s post office and shop, which closed its doors after 52 years.
The village shop was opened in 1965 by Tony and Margaret Smith and quickly became a vital part of village life.
Their daughter Carolyn and granddaughter Karen took over the running of the shop and post office in 2016 after Tony died but now, due to ill health, the shop has been sold to new owners who will refurbish the shop and reopen later in the year.
Villager David Farr and friend of the family said, “Carolyn would get up at 5.30am to get the papers ready for delivery and then work in the shop all day; this would be every day, apart from Christmas day.
“The shop also provided work experience for many local teenagers who served behind the counter and as paper deliverers. Carolyn quietly and patiently taught them to be reliable and responsible.”
Before the shop officially closed, villagers came together to wish Carolyn and Karen the best of luck and presented gifts and cards from the village.
Ann White who has lived in Whitley for 48 years said, “I have been a customer since the shop first opened. It’s sad to see the Smiths go after all this time as they have been part of the village. They have done more than they needed to do for people, over and above the demands of a village shop. They were just always there, whatever the weather, the papers arrived, you knew that they would come. Carolyn used to go out in all sorts of weather. She’s brilliant.”
Karen said, “It’s an end of an era but at some point you need to move on. We both feel a bit sad, but happy at the same time.
“I’ve been doing it for so long, since before I left school. I started on my summer holidays, weekends and then I thought I’d carry on, but now I have to move on. It’s sad but it’s a new beginning.
“I didn’t have a clue that this was being organised for me as well, I thought it was all for mum as she has done it for so long.
“I’ve got to find a job now which is exciting but scary. Everyone needs to move on, I’ll see how it goes.”
Carolyn said, “I didn’t know any of this was going to happen, if I had, I might not have come into work today! It’s quite overwhelming but very nice of everyone.
“My dad would have been very proud that the shop is still open and being supported by the village, although if he was here today, he would have definitely run away from all the attention.”
The shop will close for refurbishment but will reopen soon.