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A case of the last post for ‘Gentleman Jim’

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All being well, Waringstown Subpostmaster Jim Watson will retire from the post office at the end of the month without a sick day to his name.

The ‘one-man post office’ started in 1984 and with the post office moving to new premises at the end of the month he looks set to stamp his last envelope.

Jim (67) said: “I run it all myself. I get no help. I take bank holidays off and a few other holidays during the year. Because I do everything here it’s difficult to get cover.

“I work six days a week with a half day on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“I never was off a day sick. Sometimes I wasn’t well but I battled on. I thank the Lord for my good health.”

Jim used to run a grocery shop in Donaghcloney before selling it on and taking over Waringstown Post Office in 1984. He said: “Mr McCabe ran it before me for 19 years. Looking at all the names of previous owners I think I might be the longest serving one.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it expect for the hold ups. Those were the only negative bits in the last 30 years.

“I love meetng the people and serving the people. It’s great people coming in and sharing problems and talking about the goings on.

“I might be the only face some older people see that day. They like to come here for a chat.

“I’ve never had any bother with anybody here. Waringstown people are absolutely great. They are very civil people - a higher class of people.”

Of the changing face of the post office Jim said: “The post office has changed quite a bit since I started.

“We lost quite a bit of business through pensions, but gained business through people being able to do their banking here. Nearly any bank can draw money out of post office.

“The big change in the business is the number of ebay packages I’d be handling.”

When asked if he favoured posting letters or sending electronic mail he said: “I wouldn’t do much of either.”

Waringstown Post Office opened in 1834, moving to its current location owned by the Church of Ireland in 1965.

Jim, who devotes much of his time to the Gospel Hall on the Clare Road, said: “We close officially on Thursday, March 21, and open up in the pharmacy.

“Everybody tells me they’re going to miss me and are hoping I’m going to the new place.

“I’m going to maybe do a couple of days of the week in the new place if they want me.”

Jim is originally from Donaghcloney and is now living on the outskirts of Waringstown.

He is married to Joan and together they’ve two daughters - Elizabeth (40) and Joy (31) - and one son - Andrew (39).

 

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