Postmaster Keith recognised in New Year’s Honours

Postmaster Keith recognised in New Year’s Honours

We hear so many stories about Postmasters going above and beyond for their Congratulations to Keith Rutherford, Postmaster at Colonsay Post Office who has received a British Empire Medal.

Keith has received recognition in the New Year’s Honours for his vital role serving the very remote Inner Hebrides islands of Colonsay and Oronsay, Scotland region. The area is only connected at low tide. He was also a volunteer for the Coastguard and Fire service for more than 20 years.

At first Keith was the Postmaster and shopkeeper, then an opportunity arose to also become the postman and he juggled all the roles.

Now, aged 73, Keith remains a Postmaster, and someone else took on the postman role sorting the mail alongside Colonsay Post Office and delivering the mail to both islands. Another person runs the shop.

Colonsay and Oronsay have a population of 130 people, although this dipped to below 100 in the 1980’s, but the population is now rising and people are moving there to enjoy the beautiful, isolated lifestyle, that has the internet. The aim is for a population of 200. In the summer there is also normally lots of tourists, although not this year due to travel restrictions.

Thoughts from the Post Office and Postmaster…

Nick Read, Chief Executive at the Post Office, said: “This is well-deserved recognition for Keith Rutherford who has done so much for the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay over the past 40 years. Keith is a shining example of how we serve rural and isolated communities across the UK. Our Post Offices are at the heart of communities. Keith is highly respected and appreciated for his work.”

Postmaster Keith said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that I had been given the OBE. This has been a very strange year. Thankfully there have been no Covid cases. This has been a really busy time for the Post Office with people sending and receiving parcels and letters. More people on the island are now doing online shopping, so the island is receiving more parcels and the Post Office is handling the returns.

“The Post Office really is a lifeline to the communities of Colonsay and Oronsay.  as we offer so many services including banking, bill payment and cash withdrawals. We are a communications hub.

“It has been lovely being Postmaster for so long. I have got to know everyone and many generations of the same family. In the summer the island is normally heaving with tourists and many come back year after year and I have got to know them too. I am hoping that 2021 will be a much better year for the country and all the tourists will be able to return and that everyone on the islands stay safe.”

Keith was originally from Derby and he worked for British Railways. A colleague, who enjoyed visiting remote islands in Scotland, suggested that Keith join him for a holiday in Colonsay. It was here that he met an islander, called Mary, who became his wife. He moved to Colonsay as Mary did not want to leave her beloved island.