Long-standing Shoreham postmaster and wife applauded as they retire after 26 years

A long-standing Shoreham postmaster and his wife have retired after running their shop for 26 years.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 11:10 am
Updated Monday, 25th January 2021, 3:00 pm

Ashok and Shobha Sthankiya were applauded by grateful customers at Southlands Post Office, in Upper Shoreham Road, on Saturday and presented with a bouquet of flowers by Penny Joseph, church warden at St Giles’ Church, on behalf of the community.

Ashok, known as Ash, was following in the footsteps of his brother, Anant Sthankiya, as he was postmaster at the Mansell Road post office in Shoreham for 31 years before he passed away last year.

Ash said: “It has been hard work but it has been an absolutely enjoyable job. In 26 years, I can count on my two hands how many bad customers we have had.

Penny Joseph from St Giles' Church presenting flowers to Ashok and Shobha Sthankiya at Southlands Post Office. Picture: Steve Robards SR2101231

“We know all the regulars. Everyone has been so helpful as well.”

When Ash and Shobha suffered with Covid-19 in November, the regulars rallied round to help.

Ash explained: “We were so poorly we had to shut the shop. People were so worried. The customers found our telephone number and did our shopping for us. It was absolutely amazing.”

Ash and Shobha opened the shop and post office on January 19, 1995, and it was their first business.

Customers applaud long-standing postmaster Ashok Sthankiya and his wife Shobha at Southlands Post Office. Picture: Steve Robards SR2101231

They came from Leicester, where Ash was an engineer before being made redundant. The couple had two children, a 12-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, and with family in Shoreham, including Ash’s parents, it seemed a good time to move.

Ash explained: “Our children always wanted to come and be near their grandparents. This place came up, so we took it.”

The coupe became popular shopkeepers, known for their friendly approach and kindness to customers.

Shobha said: “We are going to miss everyone.”

Long-standing postmaster Ashok Sthankiya and his wife Shobha retired from Southlands Post Office on Saturday. Picture: Steve Robards SR2101231

Ash said they ‘got the right offer’ to take over the post office. It is now shut for total refurbishment but when it reopens in May, counter services will be available for much longer hours.

Ash said: “For now, I need to take some rest. When we both had Covid in November, we were ill for three weeks and I am still feeling fatigue.

“I have not had a holiday since 1992, only a day off here and there. It would be nice to do a bit of travelling, once we are back to normal.”

Penny was pleased to present them with flowers and a gift card, following a collection co-ordinated by St Giles’ Church.

She said: “We wanted to wish them a happy retirement on behalf of the local community and show gratitude for all the kindness and service they have shown to us all over the years.

“They are very much loved locally and we had an amazing response from the community.

“I had dozens of names to go on the card. We are sorry we were unable to contact all of Ash and Shobha’s customers and we explained to them that these were just a sample, and that the wishes have come from the whole local community.”

Southlands Post Office will reopen as a new post office and convenience store on Wednesday, May 5 at 1pm. The new post office opening hours will be Monday to Saturday, 8am to 7pm.

The nearest post offices in the meantime are Mansell Road and Shoreham High Street.