Postmasters continue to go above and beyond for their communities, supporting people in a variety of ways.
Julia and Aidan McDonald, who own Bruton Post Office & Church Bridge Stores, in the South West Region, have been recognised with the High Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for their contribution to the Bruton community during Covid-19.
The award celebrates outstanding individuals and organisations who have made exceptional contributions to communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The award was made to Church Bridge Stores for an ‘outstanding contribution to the community in Somerset and for acts of thoughtfulness and kindness during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020’.
Mary Clare Rodwell, High Sheriff of Somerset, presented the award to Julia, Aidan and their team; Natasha Jearum, Sarah Cook, Sophie Andrews, Claire Nicholls and Katie Anderton.
High Sheriff Rodwell thanked the team for their ‘exceptional acts of compassion and outstanding contribution to the welfare of the community in Bruton’.
Church Bridge Stores and Post Office remained open throughout all the national lockdowns and restrictions. Recognising there would be people in the community self-isolating with limited access to online shopping, the branch set up a delivery service with the help of Bruton community.
The thoughtful Postmasters contacted local churches and the council to get the word out about the delivery service. Within a week the number of homes on the delivery list rose from 40 to 170.
A local school, King’s Bruton, allowed Church Bridge Stores to use their minibuses and staff for the deliveries while Julia and Aidan figured out how to fulfil all the orders. They soon bought a van from a local garage and it was kindly fitted out to function for deliveries. This, along with a delivery of a walk-in fridge/freezer, allowed for a delivery system to be operating across Bruton within two weeks.
The Postmasters were supported by their suppliers, who after becoming aware of the Church Bridge Stores deliveries, prioritised them to ensure the vulnerable could access essentials such as milk and eggs.
The deliveries have continued, and Aidan said even when things return to normal Church Bridge Stores will continue to deliver to the vulnerable in the community, including to Hugh Sexey’s hospital, which offers independent supported living in Bruton.
Reflecting on the past year, Julia and Aidan said the sense of community in Bruton was second to none and they had been immensely supported.
Aidan said: “The Bruton community has really looked out for us, and each other. A local furniture shop kindly donated visors to our staff at the beginning of the pandemic, and we have been gifted hand sanitiser and even hand cream.”
The couple also supported other community initiatives during the pandemic, including assisting with the Food Drop scheme which offered food shopping to people who had lost their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Julia said these initiatives had helped to bring the community even closer together.
Julia said receiving the award was a great morale boost for the entire team. She said: “the award was not expected at all, but it feels amazing to be recognised. It has been an incredibly busy year but, despite the workload, it has been enjoyable.”
Julia and Aidan extended thanks to their brave staff, including young shelf-stackers and counter staff. They said the entire team had been invaluable as the Post Office was constantly busy, but the staff managed a new queue system and increased demands with ease.
As well as their team, the Postmasters thanked Wincanton Postmaster Nigel for his unwavering ‘big brother like’ support.
Julia, Aidan and the entire team at Church Bridge Street Stores and Post Office are looking forward to being able to celebrate their High Sheriff Special Recognition Award together soon.