ON International Women’s Day last week, the Post Office announced that Joanna Thuel is new postmaster for Buckfast Post Office.
She takes the role of another inspirational local woman, postmaster Lorraine Lee.
This is after Joanna received first class training as an apprentice and then branch assistant at nearby Ashburton Post Office.
The 26-year-old is very grateful for her two-year apprenticeship with Ashburton postmaster Stuart Rogers.
Joanna, née Giles, stayed for a further six years to learn many new skills, which have prepared her to take on the reins at nearby Buckfast Post Office on March 13.
With the postmaster Lorraine Lee retiring from Buckfast Post Office, Joanna successfully applied for the role.
Joanna, who has always lived, studied and worked in the Ashburton area, is very grateful to Buckfast Abbey for its generous financial support for her to take on the branch in the grounds of the Abbey.
A farewell party is being held at on April 1 for Lorraine, who has been postmaster at Buckfast Post Office since 1993, first as a counter clerk, then in charge since 2011, and she has been the official postmaster since 2013.
Lorraine’s loyal Post Office staff are continuing to work for Joanna and the branch has been busier since nearby Buckfastleigh Post Office closed in January 2023.
Joanna is fortunate that Buckfast Abbey paid for the full refurbishment of Buckfast Post Office and shop in 2015. Just a refresh of the shop is required, but this can be achieved without the Post Office and shop closing.
New retail ranges are being introduced for variety. A key emphasis is to support local producers of food, drink, cards and crafts at the shop.
New Buckfast postmaster Joanna said: ‘After eight years of working alongside Stuart Rogers, I am now taking the leap into Post Office ownership at the ripe age of 26-years-old.
‘Many people think of postmasters as being much older, but there are a number of younger postmasters across the UK successfully running a post office and retail business.
‘I am really looking forward to having my own business – it’s exciting.’
After gaining good A level results, Joanna decided against going to university as she was raring to start work and didn’t want student debts.
Joanna said: ‘I would strongly recommend that people look at apprenticeships after they finish A levels instead of automatically just going down the university route.
‘I learnt so much on the job. I saved hard and I was able to get on the property ladder at the time friends were leaving university with large debt.’
Joanna was the first full-time apprentice at Ashburton Post Office and shop, which is a pioneering branch as it also has the library in its building and it comes up with many creative ways to support the Ashburton community.
To mark her two-year anniversary as a Post Office colleague she undertook a UK wide fundraising mission to travel to the most southern, western, northern and eastern points of the UK with her journey ending at the Houses of Parliament.
This raised money for Cancer Research and Ashburton Arts.