A Postmaster described at 'the light at the end of the tunnel' is celebrating 30 years of local service to the Post Office - and the community.
Daljit Lehal, known as Dee, was working for the British Medical Association in the library, when her late husband, Shamus, wanted to fulfil his dreams of owning a shop.
And so the couple, along with daughters Sheron and Reena - and later son Jesse - took on the Bedford Road post office and shop in July 1991.
Shamus, sadly passed away three years ago and Dee has continued to run the Post Office.
She said: “It was incredibly hard, but I have carried on when most would have given up. The local community helped to keep me going.”
Dee’s dedication to the community was recognised in the Post Office ‘We’re Stronger Together’ awards in July 2020, in which she was a finalist in the Local Hero category for going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic.
When Covid hit Dee ensured her customers could still access essentials.
She said: “Some people were too scared to come out, so instead of closing I took a two-hour lunch break so I could pick up their prescriptions, deliver milk, bread and other essentials. It was important to put back into the community.”
Paul Mead, Post Office Area Manager, said: “Dee’s commitment to her customers goes well above and beyond the port of call, she gives up most of her free time to ensure they are safe. She is like Superwoman!”
Paul recently presented Dee with her 30 Years’ Long Service Award and flowers for her loyal service.
In January this year, Dee lost her mother - another adversity which she said she would not have been able to get through without the support of the community around her.
She said: “I wanted to be there and carry on; I like being part of the community.
"Over the years my youngest customers have grown up, gone to university and are now back living in the village. They come into the shop and are surprised to see I’m still here!”
“Working here is a social thing, I want to take the time to make all my customers feel happy, meeting and greeting everyone in the shop, even the youngest customers’ faces light up when you talk to them.
"Post Office has given me the confidence to talk to people and make them feel happy.”
Dee said she couldn’t have got through the past 30 years without the Wootton community.
She added: “I’d like to thank the Wootton community for believing in me, supporting me even when the shop shelves were empty when Shamus passed away, they still came to use this Post Office.
"Some customers called me the light at the end of the tunnel and have said they are grateful for me for carrying on, and I’m so grateful for them.”