Sheila’s 30 years in PO

Yetholm subpostmistress Sheila Jeffrey with her 30 year long service award
Yetholm subpostmistress Sheila Jeffrey with her 30 year long service award

A village subpostmistress who, in her 70s, fought off a robber, has been awarded a 30-year service award.

Brave Sheila Jeffrey was presented with the plaque and a voucher by Post Office officer Jackie Phillips.

Sheila said: “I should have retired a few years ago, but I enjoy it and it gives me something to get up for in the morning. I’m going to keep going while the grey matter still works!”

It started years ago when the previous subpostmistress Mrs Jean Tice had become ill with flu over Christmas and New Year, and Sheila was asked to cover.

Sheila recalls: “I was thrown in at the deep end! I’d never worked for the Post Office, but I used to work at the garage (Frank Gibson, where her late husband Jim was a mechanic) and I had always dealt with money.”

She then helped out on a part-time basis before applying when the job became available, taking over in 1983.

She runs the busy office from a room in her house. The nearest other Post Office is Kelso, nine miles away.

“Lots of the customers are old friends. I lost my husband six years ago, so the Post Office has been a great way to keep me busy and meeting people. Thirty years on, I still really enjoy it, “ said Sheila.

“People come from all over the world to walk the Pennine Way (which finishes at Yetholm), so you get to meet all types. It’s that variety that keeps the job interesting.

She also runs an Easter competition for the village children.

“I’ve done it for many years, and the kids always get excited about it,” she said.

There has only been one low point, in September 2008, when, aged 72, Sheila resisted a knife-wielding robber and was injured. The man was later caught and convicted. And Sheila, her daughter Angela Lyall (who came to her assistance) and other villagers were presented with meritorious awards for helping police catch the thief.

Sheila said: “It was very nice to be recognised, but I just wish it hadn’t happened and it was the only downside in all these years. It was very surprising in a small village. It makes you very wary.”

Sheila’s hobbies are walking and her family. Daughter Angela lives around the corner in Woodbank Road and her sons are nearby, James working at Yetholm Mains farm and Alistair driving for Eric Gillie horse transport. She has five grandchildren.

Ms Phillips said: “Sheila embodies the kind of attitude and dedication that the Post Office is so proud of.

“We want to congratulate Sheila on her outstanding service to Yetholm Post Office and the local community over the last 30 years. It’s a remarkable achievement.”