A postmaster from Menheniot has been awarded a British Empire Medal as he now stands as one of the longest-serving postmasters in Britain.

When Gary Walters became the UK’s youngest postmaster at 18 he said at the time he knew it was a role that would become a vocation.   

True to his word, he is now one of the longest-serving postmasters in Britain and is due to celebrate his 40th anniversary at the helm of Menheniot Post Office on March 29. 

A postmaster is an individual who is responsible for all post activities within their Post Office. Responsibilities of a postmaster might include mail distribution, establishment of letter carrier routes, supervision of letter carriers and clerks, enforcement of rules and procedures and managing staff.

Reflecting on his journey of four decades at the heart of his community, Gary, who is now 58, said: “It has been a pleasure to serve and help my customers. A Post Office is integral to residents. I was really pleased to become the UK’s youngest postmaster. It was a role that I knew that I would always stay in because it is a vital service to the community. Over the last 10 years there has been the opportunity to maintain Post Office services in 15 other communities, plus the home shopping service. I never thought that I would be the postmaster for so many communities, but I am really pleased that with my team that we can do this.”  

With parents who were successful small business owners, it was perhaps inevitable Gary would follow in their footsteps. His mother, Betty, who is now 88, and father, George, who is 87, bought the village shop in 1970.

Six years later they bought the Co-op, which included a Post Office, and was directly opposite. Watching his parents successfully juggle both businesses, Gary realised how fulfilling it would be to take over the running of them and continue to play such a vital role in his community.  Taking over the reins shortly after his 18th birthday in 1984, Gary has never looked back. 

Gary pictured in March this year
Gary pictured in March this year ( )

He said: “Community is the focus of all I do. I have carried out different types of fundraising throughout my adult life. I was also a Scout leader for ten years and have been the Treasurer and Bookings Officer for the parish hall since it was modernised in 1990. I also run the voluntary bar when needed with help from others. I also sell tickets for all village activities in the Post Office to ensure everyone can get involved with supporting the community.  

“It’s important to stress that everything I have achieved over the last 40 years has been a team effort and all thanks to my family and those who work with me to run the businesses. “My wife Sarah works full-time with me and both my sons and step-daughter also worked in the shop and Post Office when they were younger either doing a paper round or helping in the evenings and at the weekends when they were at school.  

“They also supported me during COVID when we were really busy and it was not possible for them to work their normal jobs.”  

His passion and care for the village has also led to a string of accolades for Gary. During his early days as postmaster, he was praised for helping to secure a conviction against Raymond Hewitt, a salesman from Deal, Kent who cheated four banks of more than £18,000. Gary was responsible for Hewitt’s arrest after becoming suspicious of a cheque he handed to him and alerted police. 

Gary was awarded a British Empire Medal in 2022 in recognition for all that he has done for going above and beyond for his customers and community. He was also invited to King Charles’ Coronation last year and the Royal Garden Party which takes place in the iconic gardens of Buckingham Palace or Palace of Holyroodhouse each year.

Gary at Cornwall Civic Office where Gary received the British Empire Medal
Gary at Cornwall Civic Office where Gary received the British Empire Medal ( )

It appears retirement is not on the horizon for Gary, he said: “Forty years has flown by in the blink of an eye. I have no intention of retiring anytime soon as I love what I do and will continue to support and help my community for many years to come!” 

Menheniot Post Office is open everyday (apart from Sundays) from 9.30am till 5pm. The Post Office offers everyday and personal banking services, mail services including Drop & Go and Parcelforce Express Services, Lotto prize payments and Lotto ticket sales, a platform to pay bills and top, travel services including foreign exchange and travel money cards.

The Post Office has more than 11,500 branches across the UK as well as a more than 250 mobile Post Office vehicles that visit rural locations across the UK, at set times and on certain days of the week.

For more information on Menheniot Post Office visit www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder/3185397/menheniot#ServicesAvailableAtThisBranch