Sara Barlow, Postmaster for Rainhill branch in our North West and North Wales region is to receive royal recognition for services to the community and businesses of Rainhill.
A British Empire Medal is to be presented to Sara, who has quickly made a difference to her community in the three years that she has been Postmaster for Rainhill Post Office.
Sara is chair of the Rainhill Community Support Group set up to support the people of Rainhill during the Coronavirus outbreak. Even before the pandemic Sara had already gained deserved praise as Postmaster for Rainhill for her care for customers, especially those who are deaf, living with dementia, living alone or those with mental health issues.
Sara knew sign language as her Uncle is deaf. She taught this skill to her staff to help communicate with their three deaf customers. The staff are dementia trained and are more patient and understanding. They also keep an eye out for regular customers and if they have not been in, they then check on their wellbeing.
Nick Read, Chief Executive at the Post Office, said:
“Sara is one of our great examples of Postmasters who are kind and caring and really look out for their community. Her practical training for her Post Office staff equipped them with the skills to help vulnerable customers. As a pillar of the community, Sara was well placed to offer help to those in need during the Coronavirus pandemic and started the Rainhill Community Support Group to co-ordinate an impressive team of volunteers.”
Postal Affairs Minister Paul Scully said:
“In what has been a tough year for everyone, Sara has gone above and beyond to support those around her. Like many postmasters right across the country, she plays a massive role in her local community, and it’s great to see that celebrated through this honour.”
Sara wants to accept the British Empire Medal award on behalf of her three administrators of the Rainhill Community Support Group and the 83 volunteers that helped deliver food and prescriptions to 300 vulnerable local residents and phoned people to check on their welfare.
Sara said: “I came up with the idea, but I couldn’t have done it by myself. I had three administrators who were phenomenal – Andrea Lynsey, Cllr Donna Greeves, and Natalie Mukherjee. They went above and beyond and they co-ordinated all of our amazing volunteers and requests for help. We have become great friends. I became the chair, although I wasn’t elected, as it was my initial idea and I have the biggest mouth. I went into “Mum mode” organising everyone. I am totally amazed to have been given the British Empire Medal.
“The Support Group started small, with me saying to customers before the first lockdown, if you need help give me a call. It quickly grew legs and more and more people needed help to get food and prescriptions and lots of volunteers quickly came forward to help. My husband Robbie deserves a medal too for all of his volunteering and putting up with me working non-stop during the pandemic.”
With Rainhill being at the heart of the community Sara was able to rally support from residents and businesses. On one occasion the owner of The Blue Mango restaurant donated 200 Indian meals to lift the spirits of those shielding and they were delivered by the volunteers dressed in saris.
At Christmas time Sara made an extra-large Christmas dinner and delivered food to two residents that she knew were going to be alone that day because of Covid restrictions.
Sara added that the pandemic had brought the village together with people looking out for each other and pulling together. “People who received help were very appreciative. I constantly had fresh flowers for the first eight weeks of lockdown without buying a single bunch. We had so many boxes of chocolates from people who wanted to say thank you. There were volunteers who were without jobs and faced hardship because of the pandemic, but they still wanted to help others and chose to put treats in the shopping bags of those they were delivering to. It was very humbling.”