Hemsby postmaster puts his stamp on 50 years of work

Owen and Liz Church who have been running Hemsby post office/newsagent for 50 years.Picture: James B

Owen and Liz Church who have been running Hemsby post office/newsagent for 50 years.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

A first class stamp would have set you back 1d when Owen Church started work as a postmaster.

Half a century later, they cost 62p but Mr Church is still behind the counter and today marks 50 years in charge of Hemsby Post Office.

'It's been in the family since 1900,' said Mr Church, 71, who took over from his parents in 1964 and today runs the store with his wife, Liz.

'You get to know a lot of people, That's one of the reasons I decided to take it on.'

'You're always making friends and you've got company everyday,' added Mrs Church, 68, who met her husband in the late 1970s while working as a merchandiser.

The shop was rebuilt in the late 60s to cope with growing demand and more people moving into the seaside village near Great Yarmouth.

'There have been a lot of changes over the years,' said Mr Church. 'The community is still close though.'

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Hemsby has seen its fair share of heartbreak over the past year; the December 2013 storm hit hard and the village is still mourning two young people who lost their lives.

'You find that in the bad times, people stick together. They look after each other,' said Mr Church, who experienced that first hand when the shop was damaged by flash floods in June and a small army of neighbours came out to help.

'So many people came around to help,' he recalled.

'We must have had 20 neighbours who came along, making sure we were alright and the shop was ok.'

Showing no signs of slowing down or retiring just yet, Mr Church - who also runs a newsagent inside Lathams at Potter Heigham - will keep his watchful eye on Hemsby as the years roll by. He's proud to be an independent businessman and believes village shops will survive if they are run well and supported locally, although he did add that the goverenment 'could do a lot more' to help the small traders.

'The main thing you've got to be is friendly and helpful,' he said. 'And enjoy it.'