A Rathcoole sub-postmaster has paid tribute to the community he served for 40 years upon his retirement.
Carrickfergus resident David Prince, 71, began working in Rathcoole in 1974 when he assumed ownership of The Squirrel sweet and stationery shop after seeing the opportunity to start his own business.
David told the Times: “I had been a rep and manager for a multi-national company but I became my own boss.
“At that time I just had the shop but in 1980 the post office became available.
“I brought it down into The Squirrel and kept it going until 1998 when I sold off the shop and kept the post office.
“I went in with Henderson Group who own Spar and from 1998 until the present I rented from them. I thought it was time for retirement!”
Working as Rathcoole’s sub-postmaster for 35 years, David became an integral part of the community.
He continued: “People are very generous in Rathcoole and I have had very good customers and friends. When I started in 1974 it was in the middle of the workers’ strikes and things were tough, but we made our way through it. It was a great opportunity to get into business.”
The sub-postmaster’s role involved paying out benefits for local people, as well as accepting the mail which was then collected and distributed by the Royal Mail.
David says that one of the highlights of his role was the opportunity to meet people. He added: “Pensioners would come in on a weekly basis. A Post Office is important as it serves the community. All postmasters are very valuable people for the area and I think their jobs are underestimated.”
Asked what he thinks of recent Post Office closures, David responded: “I think that community representatives and MPs should be mindful of the need to keep Post Offices in their communities. It’s where all people go.”
David, who is married to Ethel and has three children, says that he would have been unable to perform his duties without the support of colleagues April Oliver and Jane Mackey. Jane has now taken over as manager.
David explained: “I will miss them. I have had quite a number of work colleagues over the years and it has been a pleasure to work with them. We had to be a family, a team. .
“I would like to thank the people of Rathcoole for their generosity and thoughts over the years. I would also like to thank my staff who I couldn’t have done the job without.
“I have worked with Jane for 22 years and April for nine years. I wish them both well in the future.”
Paying tribute to David, April commented: “I’m broken-hearted. We are like a family and if we could have waved a magic wand and made David 20 years younger we would. He was the most honest, gentle, loyal, thoughtful employer. He’s one in a million.”
Jane added: “As well as being our boss he was a father figure, a confidante and a very good friend. He would never have asked anyone to do anything he wouldn’t have done himself. He is a true gentleman.”