Hold up Post Office couple retire after nearly 50 years service in West Cornforth

The Northern Echo: Ian and Vera Wilson. Picture by Sarah Caldecott Ian and Vera Wilson. Picture by Sarah Caldecott

A COUPLE who run a post office will retire tomorrow after nearly 50 years behind the counter.

Ian and Vera Wilson have operated the Post office in West Cornforth, near Ferryhill, County Durham, since 1965.

The couple took over the management of the shop on High Street from Mr Wilson’s parents, Bill and Frances, who had run it since 1945.

They have seen a lot in their five decades behing the village shop, but nothing to campare to the day in 1987 when they made headlines after an armed robber attempted to steal money from the Post Office.

It later transpired that the attempted robber was Antoni Imiela from Newton Aycliffe, who was given seven life sentences in 2004 for a series of rapes which earned him the nickname the M25 Rapist.

Police praised the couple’s bravery, with Mr Wilson getting special mention after he pushed his wife to the floor to get her out of harm’s way seconds before the gun was fired.

The robber ran into the shop at about 9.20am on Thursday, October 22, 1987, with a sawn-off double shot gun hidden inside a copy of that day’s Northern Echo.

It was a 3am edition of the paper and police appealed for any newsagents who may have sold that copy to contact them.

Imiela then fired a shot before fleeing in a Ford Escort which had been stolen from Bright Street in Darlington sometime on the previous night.

Mr Wilson said it was one of the more dramatic moments of his time in the Post Office.

He said: “It was certainly dramatic but it never put us off, it was expected at that time because a lot of people saw Post Offices as easy places to hold up.”

Mr Wilson said he will miss his many customers, but has no regrets about giving up early Saturday morning starts.

He said: “I know it sounds a bit silly but that is the big thing I am looking forward to no longer having to do.

“I would like to thank the people of West Cornforth for their kindness and good wishes.”

The couple’s niece Karen Veitch said: “They have been a part of the fabric of the village and community life for so long, giving a very personal service.”

Their last day in the Post office will be tomorrow (December 5), with the service set to move to the Costcutter shop in the village.

Comments (1)

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1:11pm Fri 13 Dec 13

Cycling Scientist says...

Have a nice retirement. I am sad to see you going. You were always friendly and devoted to your profession. I am sure most villagers will miss you.

No parcels go Germany any more. ;)
Have a nice retirement. I am sad to see you going. You were always friendly and devoted to your profession. I am sure most villagers will miss you. No parcels go Germany any more. ;) Cycling Scientist

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