Britain’s longest serving postmistress yesterday shut up shop after 61 years service — most of it from a tiny Post Office in her GARDEN SHED.
Esther Brauer, 83, began work in 1953 from her remote home before moving into the 8 x 6 ft shed 31 years ago.
Her life-long dedication to the 14 scattered residents of the isolated fishing hamlet also saw her act as the postwoman, delivering mail on an 18-mile route until she was 60.
But yesterday, after becoming fed up with computer problems which are “doing her head in”, she finally quit the post at Kylesku on Scotland’s North West coast.
Her shed was cleared out by Post Office official who are replacing it with a letter box.
With no-one coming to take over, locals now face a nine mile drive to Scourie for their postal needs.
Devoted Esther said: “I love my job and I am very sad to give it up.
“I may be 83 but I’m only 22 in my head and I did feel I would be letting people down if I did retire.
“But I have had terrible trouble with my computer lately. It’s doing my head in.
“It’s because we’re quite remote – the engineers told me that was why the computer wasn’t going properly.”
Esther, who has no children, said there were days during her career when no one would come in to the shop and others when she would post five or six letters.
She added: “The service has been lifeline to the community, because we are so remote.
“People need to collect their pensions and be able to send their mail. Also I have made a lot of friends through working here.
“I still get Christmas cards and postcards from around the world from people who have visited.
“I’ve got so many cards I haven’t gone through them all yet.”
Kylesku Post Office is nine miles from the nearest shop and has become a local tourist attraction.
Esther said: “It’s quite something for people to see a post office in a shed.
“During the tourist season, a lot of people visit and want to see round the place.”
Originally from Elphin – a crofting community 18 miles away – Esther settled in Kylesku aged 18 after marrying her first husband, Ian Clark.
His parents ran the old post office from their home and when they moved away, Esther took over.
After the death of her first husband Esther married local Walter Brauer and when they moved a mile along the road the post office moved too – into the shed.
Last year she received a Long Service Award from the Post Office and this year will receive a special commendation from the Scottish Parliament for services to the community.
Esther is unsure how she will spend her retirement but thinks she and her husband will likely go to “places we have never been before”.
Kenny Lamont, Post Office area manager, said: “I have known Esther for the past 15 years, a fraction of her career with us.
“Esther is well known and very highly respected in this small Highland community and everyone is very sad to see her go.
“Esther has shown incredible dedication to her local community and her delivery service.
“We have a small number of exceptionally long-serving subpostmasters and mistresses and Esther ranks amongst the very best of them and she is a credit to our business.”