RED letter day finally arrived for Innerleithen this week with the return of a full time Post Office. Before the official opening, our reporter Hilary Scott met up with Susan Meikle and Hazel Millen, owners of the Allotment, who stepped in to save the day following the closure of the previous Post Office on the High Street.

It wasn’t ever their dream to be postal mistresses. Susan and Hazel were content running their successful store, which has been selling fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, wholefoods, jams and chutney since 2011.

They had always been open to suggestions from residents on new products and ideas – creating a monthly cheese tasting evening, and a popular home delivery service.

When news hit the town of the Post Office closure in February last year, the community fought a hard campaign to see its full-time service return.

The impact of the closure was felt by the Allotment and other High Street businesses. Susan explained: “When it closed, a lot of people who previously used the Post Office started going out of the town and naturally doing their shopping elsewhere. It hit Innerleithen hard.”

The pair had previously laughed off any suggestions by locals that they could house the Post Office within their store.

But one evening in late December, something moved Susan to click a link online to find out more information – and from this very moment, the revival of the Post Office began.

No-one had officially approached them to take on the Post Office, so when asked what moved them to send the application, Susan and Hazel looked at one another and mused: “You could call it insanity!”

It wasn’t easily signed, sealed and delivered. There were many loop holes to jump through, including applications, interviews and trips to Glasgow for training, before they could start running Innerleithen’s new service from their premises.

And although Susan and Hazel say they will not financially benefit by taking on this new responsibility, they feel the gain is retaining a vital service for the people of Innerleithen.

Variety is the spice of life, and for the Allotment owners and their two hardworking members of staff Leanne and Susan, they’ll be juggling more than apples and pears on occasions. “I hope people give us a chance. It is going to be a challenge running the Post Office and serving our valued customers,” added Susan. “There are going to be times that there will be a queue and we would appreciate people’s patience. We are new to this. It might take a little longer for us to do things, but it will be done right.”

I on the other-hand like to think that a little festive magic played its part in the happy ending to this tale, and somewhere in this quaint town, the one request on someone’s Christmas list was that the community didn’t lose its postal service.

And it wasn’t delivered by a postman, or a man with a white beard wearing a red suit and black boots. It was answered and delivered by these two brave and ambitious local ladies, who with the community at heart, saved Innerleithen’s Post Office.