A TULLYHOGUE woman is celebrating this week after being awarded for her 30 years service as a sub postmistress at the village’s Post Office.
A humbled and proud Georgina Harpur was presented with the long service award at the small branch where she has served the community for the last 30 years.
The presentation also marks a special occasion as Tullyhogue is believed to be the oldest Post Office branch in Northern Ireland and has remained in the same family for some 172 years.
Amazingly, the Post Office pre-dates the world’s first ever postage stamp, the Penny Black, which was first introduced in 1840.
Mrs Harpur, who married into the local family over 50 years ago, has been fondly looking back from when she first started the job to more recent times.
“I originally planned to stay in the job for only three months to stand in for a relative of mine who had left, but then the position of postmaster came up and I had been enjoying the job so I applied for it and got it.
“What I love most about my job is meeting people and being able to enjoy a good chat and having some good company throughout the day. The people in Tullyhogue village are very nice and I’m really loving my time here.
“I get up early six days a week to be in work and ready to open for 8.30am. I’m so used to it now that it doesn’t bother me at all.
“I just enjoy meeting people and the daily chat, it’s a nice village to work and live in, and people come a right distance travelling to come here. I’ve watched people grow from children to adults down through the years and I’ve built up a very good relationship with local people.
“I am very proud of my award and I love the bunch of flowers I got too, normally when people come in with flowers they are looking to know directions to somewhere else, so it was a nice surprise.”
Mrs Harpur, who originates from Newmills, moved to the small village after she married local man Bobby Harpur, who sadly died a number of years ago. After the birth of their son and two daughters, they moved into the Harpur family home, which sits next door to the Post Office.
The friendly relationship Mrs Harpur has with the locals is clear to see when a few customers arrive. After proudly showing off her award, she is praised for her hard work and is thanked for her services.
“That’s what I love most about this job, is the friendly nature of people and it’s wonderful how it gets you through the day if you’re down.
“I find that lorry men would call in and ask for directions so I do a bit of sat nav and sometimes when they go past they toot the horn. So I have that bit of fun too.
“The Post Office is the hub of the community and it’s where everyone comes to meet and have a chat so it did concern me when I heard of all the little Post Offices closing down and I was waiting for the call but luckily it never came.
“But if it does come then I’ve done my duty, though I do worry about the older people having to travel to Cookstown or Stewartstown as not everyone can jump in the car.
“Years ago when I was told they would be bringing in computers I thought I was too old, but I was told not at all, that once you get on to it I would get used to it and now I wish I had done it a long time ago. It’s the help from the Post Office staff in the company that got me through it. I would never go back to paper and pencil now!
“I hope to stay here for as long as I can, I can’t imagine myself without as it’s such a big part of my life.”